Disclaimer: The following post talks about my personal experience, specifically at the Consular Section of the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC. Please be fully aware that all situations and all consulates are different and may yield different results.
After weeks of planning and waiting, the day had finally come: The day that I’d be heading to the Mexican consulate to apply for temporary residency in Mexico for me and my son. I was a little nervous to say the least, as I had heard so many stories about how hard some of the consulates were on applicants especially if the personal information provided didn’t match word for word or letter for letter in your passport or other legal documents. Unfortunately, this was part of the reason most people decided to just do the 6-month “border run” to stay legal within the country. However, knowing that we’d planned on being in Mexico for at least a year, I wanted to at least TRY to do things the right way in an effort to make things easier on us in the long run.
In the weeks prior, I had taken care to make sure that I had all of the requirements listed on their website and in the information that was provided via e-mail in response to my requests for clarification. Those requirements included:
Valid passports and copies of the main page.
One color passport-sized photo for each of us.
Application processing fee of $36.00 per person.
Original and copy of the documents serving as proof of economic solvency: At the DC consulate, the minimum that I needed to show was the last 6 months of pay stubs from my job (printed PDF copies were sufficient) showing a monthly income of at least $1,560.00 USD for me, and an additional $520.00 USD for my son. To be safe and one step ahead of them, I printed 12 months of statements AND provided a proof of employment letter from my current company.
Signed and notarized letter from my son’s father giving his authorization.
All went smoothly at the beginning of the appointment. She looked at my son’s birth certificate and asked where his father was. I mentioned that he lived in Arizona, but that I had his notarized consent letter at the back of the packet. She nodded. She then flipped through my bank statements and asked that I have a seat for a few moments while she went through the rest of the paperwork.
She called me up to the window once to sign the visa application and passport (which had recently been renewed), then asked me to have a seat again. When she called me up to the window a second time, I knew that something had to be wrong. When I walked up, I was surprised to see that the problem was with the notarized letter from my son’s father. She pointed out that while the letter that he provided was perfect and stated everything that it needed for me to travel with and reside in Mexico with my son, that unfortunately it was missing the language that was clearly written in the requirements on the website-- the language specifically stating that he authorized the visa application itself.
She explained that while the letter I had was also necessary to cross the border with my son, to apply, his father needed another notarized letter stating that he was OK with me applying for the visa. She then went on to say that even IF the letter had the correct language and they issued his visa from that office, that I would have to obtain yet another notarized letter from him for when we arrived in Mexico stating that he was OK with me proceeding with the residency process there. Oh, did I mention that the second letter would have to be written in Spanish?
I was calm, although in my head I thought to myself, “Are you f**king kidding me?!” Although it made total sense, these are the things that were NOT clearly explained on any website that I'd seen, and would have resulted in an even bigger headache upon arriving at the INM office in Mexico. Additionally, it would have caused a problem when trying to get my son enrolled in a school, or anything else in Mexico, for that matter.
She asked if I spoke Spanish. I told her no. She looked at my son’s father’s last name again (which is a common Hispanic last name) and asked if he was Mexican, or if he spoke Spanish. I laughed and told her “he does, but not that great...” Although my son’s father is Puerto Rican and speaks some Spanish, he only rates himself a 4 out of a 10 in the language, so I certainly wouldn’t expect him to be able to type up an important document in the language and have it fly at a consulate or immigration office.
She told me to wait for just a moment as she wrote down word for word in Spanish the language that the letter required to be approved, wrote down the address of the office in Arizona that he needed to go to, and highlighted the information of the person that he needed to ask for. My head started to spin as she explained the process that he would need to go through from the Phoenix consulate to get them to send the approved paperwork to the DC consulate.
It then dawned on me that just the day prior, my son’s father had mentioned that he was planning on making another trip to the DC area in May, so I asked if it would just be easier if he were to physically appear to give his approval. Her eyes lit up as she told me that doing so would be much easier and would allow our son to quickly proceed with getting his visa. She also explained that it would allow my son’s father to sign off on the Power of Attorney form, which would then give the consulate the authority to complete all of the Mexican legal matters on his behalf prior to our arrival (and therefore save us from all headaches and questions at the INM office once we arrived in Mexico).
She asked if I wanted to at least proceed with my visa application for now, and of course, I agreed. She then offered to get my son’s application started as much as she could so that during our next visit, we could just have his father do his part of the paperwork, pay, and get his visa. Within a matter of 10 minutes, she took photos of both my son and I, took both of our fingerprints, and handed me a card to take to the window in the main room where I would pay my application fee. After the fee was paid, I was handed two receipts: one for me, and one for the visa office. After returning to the visa office with the receipt, I waited about 10 minutes before she had my visa printed and ready.
After handing back my son’s paperwork as well as my passport and RT visa, she gave me a pamphlet with the nearest INM office in MX, documents outlining what I needed to do next, and the application that I needed to complete when completing the process at INM (which is written in Spanish). Before letting me walk away, she asked, “Will you still be working for the same company online or…..” and motioned with her arms if I’d be quitting. My heart skipped a beat, knowing that I hadn’t exactly notified my job of the move yet. I simply said, “That’s the plan...” and she nodded with approval. Whew. She then called in a second lady to explain the Power of Attorney process.
When the second lady arrived, she handed me the form that my son’s father needed to complete (again, written in Spanish) and emphasized that if my son’s father was not fluent enough to understand the form or what they were saying to him when both parties signed off on the form in person, that we would need to involve a translator in the process. She explained that didn’t have to be a certified translator-- just someone from the outside who was fluent. In our case, this wasn't a problem since my son's grandparents and uncle on his father's side are fluent. She then told me to e-mail them as soon as we find out when my son’s father would be back in the area so that they could prioritize our appointment and get us taken care of.
So, we left the appointment with me having my Residente Temporal in hand, and my son having nothing. Although not the result I was hoping for, I am thankful that I got started months in advance to allow time for these kinds of oversights. I am even more thankful to have had a good experience where they were willing to work with me and make things easier on my next visit by getting the bulk of my son’s application done, and by providing me with their personal contact information so that I could pick right up where we left off when we return to the office, hopefully in May.
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