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My Permanent Residency Application Process, Part 1: September 2014

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#1 mstevens

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 02:26 PM

(From the sre.gob website for those applying in the US. Requirements in other countries are nearly identical and differ primarily in terms of fees and non-citizen visa details. The Boston consulate that I used actually took all this OFF their website right before I went in (early September 2014*). As if this posting, it's still up at the LA consulate and several others but they seem to be disappearing overall. It's really best to try to consult the website of the consulate you actually plan to use: on the left panel of the homepage, find "Visas" or "Visas for Foreign Nationals", and look across the top or scroll through that page to see if they have links to different types of residency. If not, try the LA or New York consulates which as of this posting do still have such links. Some also have a link to the application form that you can fill out ahead of time. You can print it and fill it out by hand or fill it out on your computer then print it.)
 
Visa for Permanent Residents
 
This type of visa is for you if:
  • You are moving to Mexico to be there indefinitely
  • You don´t have a work authorization
Requirements:
  • Apply at the Consulate General in person
  • Schedule one appointment 
  • Fill out the Application form, English or Español
  • Valid passport in original and one photocopy of the pages containing personal information, photograph of bearer and expiration date/extensions
  • Valid US visa for multiple entries and one photocopy (non-US citizens)
  • Valid I-94 and/or I-20 or J-1 or I-797A Form in original and one photocopy (non-US citizens)
  • One photo passport size (size 1.5 x 1.3/4 inches), in color, no glasses
  • Original financial records (last twelve months of your bank statements in US Dollars, last twelve months of pay stubs, employment letter specifying your position and salary and the last twelve months of international credit card statements. Yearly social security statement and one copy. You can also submit official documents proving the ownership of a property/company/business) and one photocopy of them
  • Payment or Consular fee (USD$36) (only cash or money order)
 
Visa for Temporary Residents
 
This type of visa is for you if:
  • You are traveling to Mexico for retirement, investments, professional activities, technical activities, artistic activities, scientific activities, and sport activities or as a minister of religion
  • You will be in Mexico more than 180 days
  • You don´t have a work authorization
Requirements:
  • Apply at the Consulate General in person
  • Schedule one appointment
  • Fill out the Application form, English or Español
  • Valid passport in original and one photocopy of the pages containing personal information, photograph of bearer and expiration date/extensions
  • Valid US visa for multiple entries and one photocopy (non-US citizens)
  • Valid I-94 and/or I-20 or J-1 or I-797A Form in original and one photocopy (non-US citizens)
  • One photo passport size, no glasses
  • Original financial records (last twelve months of your bank statements in US Dollars, last twelve months of pay stubs, employment letter specifying your position and salary and the last twelve months of international credit card statements. You can also submit official documents proving the ownership of a property/company/business) and one photocopy of them or a yearly social security statement
  • If a company/organization/association in Mexico is sponsoring or inviting the foreign national, the applicant can submit an original invitation letter* from them (the invitation must have a letterhead, address and signed in ink. Scanned or pdf versions won’t be accepted). Ministers of religion should submit original letter of “anuencia” (consent) of the Ministry of the Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación) from Mexico
  • Consular fee (USD$36) (only cash or money order)
 
*Invitation Letter - Original Invitation Letter from the company/organization/association based in Mexico must be addressed to the Consulate General of Mexico requesting the visa and specifying:
  • Exact purpose or activity and length of time for the trip to Mexico
  • How your expenses will be covered
  • Applicant´s full name
  • Registration number of the company/organization, plus address, complete name and contact information of the company/organization
  • Copy of ID of the person who signed the invitation letter
 
Visa for visitors with authorization for lucrative activities
  • If the purpose of entering into Mexico is working there and you will receive a salary or payment (lucrative activities), you will have to apply for a prior authorization to the National Immigration Institute in Mexico. In that case, you will receive an authorization number (NUT number).
  • As soon as the NUT authorization has been issued you must be in contact with this Consulate in order to schedule one appointment and to process a visa. Once you make the appointment you only will have 10 days for the interview and the issuance of your visa.
  • Schedule one appointment
  • Fill out the Application form, English or Español (click here)The sre.gob website recently had a very nice list of all the documentation requirements, but at the beginning of September 2014 that disappeared and I haven't been able to find an official list since.

____________________

 

(See the end for why I recommend using a local consultant to assist with this process.)

 

I started all of this through the Boston consulate. I couldn't figure out how to make an appointment online and couldn't get through to a person on the phone, so emailed through their website asking how to get an appointment. 2 days later I got an email response that included an appointment that I couldn't make, but they quickly rescheduled it for me via email. The person who responded to the email was the consular official with whom I ended up meeting for the application. The process at the consulate took a total of about 90 minutes from start to finish.

 

The documentation requirements differ based on the basis on which one is applying for residency. I took everything I could think of and a number were handed back to me as unnecessary. For example, the consul told me she didn't need my fideicomiso because my retirement balances covered the financial requirements and didn't need my marriage license since I didn't need to apply on the basis of marriage to a permanent resident because I met the financial requirements independently. She recommended keeping the application as simple as possible and qualifying on one single basis rather than multiple ones to keep complexity, paperwork, and chance of problems to a minimum. I heartily agree, but think it's still best to take everything you can think of in case it's requested.

 

When I was with the consul, she asked for a letter from my bank that hadn't appeared on the list of documentation. My consul eventually ticked off the box on her computer that said we'd given her one (because it wouldn't let her proceed with the process until she did that) and asked me to get one and email her a scan. The requirements for this letter are vague in the extreme and my bank declined to provide one with the wording she gave me - something like "this person has an account with us and gets regular deposits from [specify place]". Some people have said that a letter stating "as of [date], [accountholder] had an account with us with a balance of [balance]. That, in any event, is what our bank eventually and grudgingly agreed to provide.

 

She asked me to highlight on my bank statements all income deposits and to highlight the matching amounts on all my pay statements. She also recommended that I use a marker to obscure my account number on the bank statements for my own security. She kept the pay and bank statements and returned the retirement account statements (which I thought odd because it was on the basis of the retirement balances that she officially approved my application) and told me to reprint all of the stuff she kept. I did the highlighting and account number obscuring in Preview on my Mac so they print with that already done. There are several ways to do this on a PC.

 

If applying for permanent residency on the basis of connection with a Mexican citizen or resident, they'll want proof of the relationship, such as a marriage license, birth certificates, etc. One problem with this is that some people applying on the basis of marriage to someone that took place outside of Mexico have been asked for proof the relationship still exists, which is tough. They may also ask for proof of financial independence even when applying on the basis of personal connection.

 

There is a "point system" (where the points are secret) that includes investments in Mexico, ownership of property in Mexico (in which case one would need to provide a copy of the fideicomiso or title), fluency in Spanish, familiarity with Mexican culture, special skills (being famous for something, mostly), etc. Some of these are obviously pretty subjective on the part of the official reviewing the application.

 

My consul told me that I had brought far more documentation than she needed but recommended that I take ALL of it with me to the INM office in Cozumel when I go. 

 

Once my application was deemed complete, I was asked to pay the USD$36 fee (in cash or by credit card) and photographed and fingerprinted. A visa was printed and attached to a page in my passport that permits me to enter the country for the purpose of seeking permanent residency. It's very important that immigration officials in Mexico see this so you enter the country on that basis and not as a tourist.

 

The Cozumel INM office is open Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 1 PM. Supposedly, anyone who has signed in before 1 PM will eventually be seen that day. There is a fee to be paid there of MXN$3,953, one must give them the departure portion of the FMM, and one needs to provide ones height and weight in metric units and some "infantil" size photos - these are NOT the same as US "passport size", so get these done on the island at a place familiar with the requirements, NOT in the US. They'll need a letter (in Spanish) stating why you're doing all this. They are *supposed* to proceed based on the presumption that the consulate has verified that one has met requirements, but I really think one should be prepared to provide anything they ask for. Documents will need to be translated into Spanish by an expert translator ("perito"). Some official documents (such as birth certificates or marriage licenses and almost anything that needs to be notarized) may need apostilles - these take time and significant hassle and will be much easier to get in your home country. In the US, each state's Secretary of State is responsible for apostilles on documents issued in that state, so you may need to deal with agencies in multiple states.

 

Once they're happy with paperwork, you will start an application on the INM online system. You may be notified to return to the office for various reasons or to provide additional documentation. Once the application is deemed complete, you'll need to go in to be fingerprinted (on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays only). That should complete the application process. You'll then need to wait for your card to be printed in and mailed from Mexico City to the INM office in Cozumel where you will need to pick it up in person.

 

The INM office will keep the departure portion of your FMM, so you won't be able to leave the country during this process. It is possible to obtain a "permiso de viaje" that allows one to leave and re-enter the country while all this is taking place, but it's important to get this BEFORE you leave Mexico and to ensure you do NOT re-enter Mexico as a tourist.

 

I'll post follow-ups once I've begun the on-island parts of the process in about 2 weeks.

 

(Part 2 herePart 3 hereSummary post here)

 

*As of 2 November the Boston consulate website again has links to the visa information in English. I think they must have been refreshing their website when I posted this.

____________________

 

I know lots of people speak great Spanish and wouldn't have any problems navigating this process on their own. I nevertheless recommend strongly considering hiring an expert to help you through the process. Keep in mind that when it comes to document translations, nobody cares if you were born speaking Spanish and work as a Spanish teacher - translations need to be done by someone certified to do this. Beyond that, note that this is a very bureaucratic system where you'll be dealing with at least 3 distinct groups of officials: the consulate in your home country, the INM office in Cozumel, and INM people at the mothership in Mexico City. Knowing things such as the EXACT wording that works or things to avoid saying, can make a huge difference in how difficult and time-consuming the process is. There are more subtle issues, such as personal familiarity with local officials, knowing days or officials to avoid, and so on. My facilitator is charging MXN$3,000, which I think is an extremely good investment in helping things go more smoothly.


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#2 Coz2wonder

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 03:10 PM

EXCELLENT!

 

Good advice on leveraging a Spanish speaker or hire a person who knows the ropes.  It is less confusing, less time consuming (for everybody) then trying to muddle through it the first time.


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#3 mstevens

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 08:27 PM

I'll point out that while permanent residency is easiest (and conceivably only possible) to get if you can prove you don't need to work and are financially independent, it grants the holder all the rights of citizenship with only two exceptions: the right to engage in political activity and the right to own property within the Restricted Zone. That means that, once one has permanent residency, one is supposedly permitted to work. It also carries with it the obligation to notify INM of any changes of address, of starting or changing jobs, and of each time one leaves the country.


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#4 liverbird

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Posted 17 September 2014 - 01:11 PM

That is a fantastic explanation of what to do and how to do it. Thank you. One question is about original bank statements, credit card statements, and salary statements - I don't receive any hard copies any more, everything is done online and through email. So what would I do? Would they accept the print-outs? Thank you again.


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#5 mstevens

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Posted 17 September 2014 - 03:51 PM

I'm in the same boat - I don't get original paper copies of any bank statements or pay statements. They accepted printouts at the consulate without batting an eyelash.

 

Nobody asked me for any credit card statements.


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#6 Freezin' Canuck

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 05:12 AM

At our consulate, when they saw the online bank printouts, insisted that the bank stamp be placed on them. Fortunately the bank branch was close to the consulate, and they officially stamped each month. I suppose it depends on which consular official you see.
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#7 mstevens

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 09:38 AM

Wow. I'm glad I didn't face this. I live in New Hampshire and the nearest branch of my bank is in San Antonio.


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#8 Coz2wonder

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 03:04 PM

That is why you need to check prior to going as to what  YOUR consulate office is going to require.

 

There appears to be  no "official" process, and each consulate may require something different.  Which just causes a lot more effort then should be required.


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#9 mstevens

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 10:39 PM

I have to say my visit to the consulate went well, but communication with them ahead of time is difficult and frustrating, and the information available about what one needs to take appears to vary by consulate and isn't available at all consulates.


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#10 mstevens

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Posted 06 October 2014 - 04:06 PM

Part 2 is here.

 

Part 3 is here.


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#11 Coz2wonder

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Posted 06 October 2014 - 04:12 PM

Your facilitator will get a document from immigration which you need (maybe they can do it for you) to take to the bank and pay for your permanent visa.

 

That needs to go back to immigration (usually it's the same day) to complete the process which is answering some questions, fingerprints, and having your pictures adhered to the card.


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#12 mstevens

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 12:10 PM

Oh, I fully expect there will be fees involved...


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#13 Coz2wonder

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 12:26 PM

Question for you Mark.

Did you need to present reference letter when you applied for your PR in the states?

 

You did clairy one thing that I had a question on.  It doesn't matter where you start the process in the states.

 

The pricing on the PR card was in the $350-$400 usd range if memory serves me right.


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#14 Carey

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 02:54 PM

Thanks very much, Mark, for taking the time required to post this important information.  Current info is the most valuable.  (Which also means that anyone reading this one year from now may wish to look for something in the now.  Immigration rules change all the time, it seems.  But they are slow to be implemented on Cozumel as a rule.)

 

May we assume that  you are using Monica Sauza as yout go between with local immigration?  We've used her and I can highly recommend her services.  If you are not using Monica to assist you, then perhaps you could give us the name and contact info of whom you are using as this will be helpful to people who follow behind you.

 

One small correction re your rights with a permanent residents card -- which AJ and I have also.   You cannot participate in any form of political protest.  Actually you don't even want to be SEEN near a protest of any sort unless you have Mexican citizenship.


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#15 pecas

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Posted 08 October 2014 - 11:38 AM

To the best of my knowledge Monica got out of the immigration business.  I agree she was excellent and am so very thankful that she was able to guide me through the various steps I took to get to my PR (registering our marriage, FM3, FM2, PR).  Bummed that she is no longer offering this service, but I can totally understand her decision. 


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#16 mstevens

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 06:34 AM

Question for you Mark.

Did you need to present reference letter when you applied for your PR in the states?

 

No. Just the application and, in my case, financial records.

 

Thanks very much, Mark, for taking the time required to post this important information.  Current info is the most valuable.  (Which also means that anyone reading this one year from now may wish to look for something in the now.  Immigration rules change all the time, it seems.  But they are slow to be implemented on Cozumel as a rule.)

 

May we assume that  you are using Monica Sauza as yout go between with local immigration?  We've used her and I can highly recommend her services.  If you are not using Monica to assist you, then perhaps you could give us the name and contact info of whom you are using as this will be helpful to people who follow behind you.

 

One small correction re your rights with a permanent residents card -- which AJ and I have also.   You cannot participate in any form of political protest.  Actually you don't even want to be SEEN near a protest of any sort unless you have Mexican citizenship.

 

I agree about timing - that's why the month and year are in the title. It could be woefully out of date even months from now. As far as I can determine, the new subdirector has implemented every current rule.

 

Monica no longer does immigration facilitation due to health. She did do my translations. She referred me to Gretchen Martin for facilitation.

 

I probably should have said "political activity" rather than voting, but my understanding is as yours: any activity that could be seen as political can be a big problem.

 

To the best of my knowledge Monica got out of the immigration business.  I agree she was excellent and am so very thankful that she was able to guide me through the various steps I took to get to my PR (registering our marriage, FM3, FM2, PR).  Bummed that she is no longer offering this service, but I can totally understand her decision. 

 

That's correct, but as noted above she did refer me to someone else.


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#17 mstevens

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 08:37 AM

As of 2 November the Boston consulate website again has links to the visa information in English. I think they must have been refreshing their website when I posted this.


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#18 mstevens

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 01:36 PM

As a small update, a friend (who's active here and might wish to chime in) has been having a significantly different experience at a consulate in a different state. Some of the differences have been not being able to make an appointment, not being able to complete the process in a single consulate visit, and not getting a definitive response on the visa application at their walk-in visit - they were told they'd be contacted in several days with a response (including possible request for further documentation) after which they would need to return at least once. They actually went with the bank letter I described in the initial post and tried to provide it, but the officer didn't want it!

 

Similarities included that the consular officer wanted to keep the process as simple as possible and did not want any documentation beyond the minimum required financial documents. Just as with my application, the officer didn't seem to be interested in proof of owning property in Mexico or of relationships with other residents or applicants.

 

I'd say this is definitive evidence that different consulates manage this process in different ways and that it's not safe to make any a priori assumptions based on my report.


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#19 cvchief

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Posted 21 November 2014 - 07:14 PM

Yes, I'll chime in.  I used Philadelphia.  I emailed and called to get the 'appointment.'   I got an email in a couple days that said documents could be dropped off between 3:30 and 5:00PM no appointment needed.

 

So I rolled in a little early and was told to come back at 330 and talk to the same girl.  She said she was a different 'department' at 230.

 

Back at 3:40 and a guard inquired what we wanted and seated us.  Then we were called to the window.  It was like a bank.  Line of service window with hole at the bottom and a speaking grill.  We did everything through the window.

 

For a PR it was two choices: Investments or Pensions.

 

For the wife it was pensions.  Gave them a copy of a pension advisement and the yearly SS advisement.  Asked to see the original.  Handed them back.  Wanted 6 months of bank statements with the deposits showing. Looked at one with me and circled the two deposits.    If it was there, that was all she cared about.  Tried to show her the letter from the bank detailing each deposit and amount for each month and my account was in good standing, etc etc.   She did not even want to look it.   Said it had to be like $2,400 and something total in pension a month and that was it. Gave her a pic, copy of the passport and a signed applications.  She bundled up and sat it aside.

 

For me, I started asking about being married.  She said NO.  Everyone must apply on their own.  So I said investments then.  She said it must be a average daily balance of 99,000 US and change.  She checked the exchange rate for the day before quoting the number.  I thought the average would be higher than that, but I was expecting to give her much more paperwork.  So I asked if I should give her copies of another account to be sure.  She took it, but was very clear that she only wanted enough to cover the 99K and NO more. Gave her a pic, copy of the passport and a signed applications.  She bundled up and sat it aside.

 

I asked about the Fidecomiso.  She said NO.  Only for Temporales.

 

She asked how long we were staying this trip.  I said I wasn't sure.  She said be sure you can stay long enough as it might take a month, etc etc.  She said lots of people get them and then come back and have to start over with her.

 

I said I had an attorney in Coz.  Hint: Don't say that.  I got a small speech on Mexico being different from the US and Mexicans deal directly with the Government.  She was very nice and friendly about everything.  

 

She said they would double check the documents and she would call be between 2 and 7 days to come back and pick up the visa and pay the $36.   She seemed quite clear that if I gave her documents meeting the requirements and a check of our names caused no problem, it was a done deal, easy peasy.  I very much felt like if you qualified, you qualified.

 

So, I gotta go to Philly next week I guess.  She said when she called me back we would both need to come to get the visas and she would set a time with us.   I wonder if I could have just mailed the docs?

 

 

On the bright side, I went to the Philly FOP for the first time and had a 1st class steak and I am picky about my steak.  So, I am thinking another on the return trip.


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#20 cvchief

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Posted 20 December 2014 - 10:10 AM

So by way of further update:

 

Philly freaked us out a little by not calling.  I managed to get the lady on the phone on the 1st and she said she was pretty sure it would be back on the 2nd.  She called on the 2nd and we headed down the turnpike, there were 5000 truck dumping salt and a rock starred the windshield. 

 

The second visit was easier than the first.  Only thing they asked additional was the Nov bank statement as we started in November before it was ready.  We signed some stuff and sat and waited a little.  Then she called us back to the window and took our photos.  Then waited a little more.  Paid our 36 bucks got our passports with the visas pasted in.  Really pretty easy and we were not there that long.   Really nice lady who does it.

 

So in Cancun, Susan arrived on the 3rd.  No problems, just yelled "canje" a bit and waived the visa around.

 

I didn't come down until the 10th.  I was yelling 'canje' and waiving the visa, but due to my extreme gringo appearance, he didn't get it and ripped the FMM from my hand and like lightning signed me up for a 180 day tourist visa.  Then he caught on and was so kind as to fill out a new one for me and all was good.

 

So Susan met with Gretchen Martin on the 4th.  I think the stuff was submitted to Monday the 8th to Immigration.   Gretchen got her in for the interview and prints on Wednesday the 17th.  That took all of 20 minutes.  We were in the process of getting the letter to leave when we got a sudden call from Gretchen to get to the immigration office within 20 minutes (before 1 pm) on Friday the 19th.  Turns out that Susan's PR card came in suddenly on Friday.  So we got there signed her in and waited a little while since the office was busy.  They called Susan stepped to the counter signed a couple things and got the card.  Done and done! Gretchen was terrific and made it all very easy.

 

Me on the other hand....  I guess my stuff was submitted on the 12th maybe?  Susan got a card to stay in Mexico forever: All I got a letter from Mexico that said I could get out!  Seriously nothing on mine came back  so Gretchen got me the letter granting me permission to leave.  She anticipates that I can have an interview scheduled for my next arrival and get the card then as well. 

 

Oh and we rushed to the Ultramar and got Susan her ferry card 5 minutes before the office closed. 

 

Thanks to Mark for making this seem so 'doable.'


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