Wednesday, February 13, 2013

An informational meeting the new Mexican immigration laws

I attended a 'town hall' meeting today by the United States Consular Agency of Nuevo Vallarta  "intended to educate the public on the new Mexican laws regarding visa renewal and the temporary importation of a foreign plated car to Mexico."

700 plus expats for today's immigration meeting
It was apparently a pretty hot topic for expats. The Consulate expected 200 people. More than 700 people showed up.

They started with the caveat that these are the local immigration officials and not those that enacted the law and to please "not shoot the messenger."

My own caveat is that I'm NOT AN EXPERT and I'm just posting my notes from today's meeting. I'm not guaranteeing the accuracy on their part or on my part. To the best of my ability, I'm just relaying what I heard."

So with that, here goes a summary of my notes:

Let's start with the basics. If you're not already up to speed on the nuances of Mexican immigration, please look elsewhere online for info.

Here's the new time frame for the current application process since the law changed Nov. 7:
* You still renew 30 days prior to expiration.
* It should take 20 working days to process your application in order to take your fingerprints.
* After your fingerprinted, the completed applications are sent to Mexico City.
* Mexico City issues the final forms.
* There is a two to three week wait for the card to return to your office where you applied.

So, expect about 6 to 8 weeks for the application/renewal process.

They also said that the replacement cost for lost or stolen residency cards is quite a bit higher --- maybe $2000 pesos or more to replace the permanent card.

As to the types of visas, it sounds there are still four levels of visas --- temporary tourist visa, FM-3s, FM-2s, and the Permanent Resident.

I'm still not clear on the difference between the FM-3 and FM-2 at this point because although I have been hearing that they no longer exist, they were still referred to during the presentation. But it sounds like either one leads to the application process for Permanent Immigrant status six months before your visa expires in your fourth year.

We're waiting on our FM-something card to come back from Mexico City, so hopefully that will clear it up for us. 

For permanent status for those of us retired, you have to prove a monthly income of over $32,500 pesos per month or investments equal to over one million and something. I could find this number online but I didn't catch it today.

It also sounded like there might be exceptions but it was only briefly alluded to and it would take a trip to immigration for each case.

If you're out of the country when it's time to renew, you have 55 days to re-enter the country and five business days to renew. But the total number of days cannot exceed 60, regardless of the situation. It sounded like there wouldn't be any exceptions for that, and that might have to apply for an extension. That part wasn't clear.

They also said if you leave or return on a tourist visa while you have your resident visas, it will cancel your resident visas and you'll have to start over. Don't know how that would happen unless it is now all computerized. But apparently they really don't want any of us doing this (anymore?).

The big news which the local immigration specialists said they are already challenging is the change in the customs laws concerning foreign plated vehicles in the country.

An official announced.... drum roll, please.... that once you've received your new immigration card (all levels), you have 60 days to get your vehicle out of the country.

Sixty days?

I'm guessing that most ex-pats living in Mexico are hoping that they don't know what they're talking about on this issue. We talked to our immigration specialist after the meeting who said that they are already investigating this information and have not been told this. Nor has anyone read it in a law anywhere.

So ---hopefully this is a misinterpretation said to a mere, oh, 700 PLUS PEOPLE IN AN AUDITORIUM. Who probably all of have foreign-plated cars.

Hoo boy.

They also said that if it is a six year old vehicle or newer, it can be imported. Under this new change in customs, the only foreign plated cars in the country will be those coming down with people holding tourist visas, and must be taken out of the country within six months.

 I'll post whatever news I hear about cars as soon as I hear it, since we would part of a huge caravan of vehicles that would have to leave the country pronto.

In the meantime, I would encourage all of you reading this to follow our lead and just wait for more information to settle out before we all panic and head for the border.

Those of us who attended the meeting are supposed to receive the power point and Q & A's (which had to be submitted a week before the meeting) by email. When I do, I'll be glad to share the information. But it might take a while.

In the meantime, we'll all just Stay Tuned to 'As the Visas Renew'....


Anonymous said...

If the Mexican gov't wants money (of course), then a foreign plated suto being left in Mexico indefinately by the permanent resident or FM holder when they are back in Gringo-land makes sense to me.

Individuals who go to Mexico on a tourist Visa with an auto from US and Canada and who leave Mexico with the vehicle would not have to worry. Those individuals cannot leave their autos in Mexico (the current situation).

But it is Mexico and it is gov't ... (in)sensibility in gov't is not unique to Central America.

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