On being an IIegal Immigrant

Last week we made our visa run to Texas and came back with a loaded vehicle, it's crazy how many things break down and parts are only available in the US. So we took that opportunity.

However, we had no idea how quickly we'd be headed back to the US!

Yesterday I went to our attorney's office to hand over the paperwork and get our visas processed. We have 30 days from entering Mexico to get the process started. The first part of the process takes 3 weeks then you have to return to the immigration office for fingerprinting, then three weeks later you can pick up your residency cards and paperwork. However, this is Mexico, and Christmas is upon us. I'm not expecting this process to go quickly. So everything we can do on our end we're going to do to get the process moving quickly. Because in 4 weeks we're leaving this area (San Miguel de Allende, quite possibly the world's best city to live in for expats) and head to the playa (beach) near Merida, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. So hopefully we can get the fingerprints done before we leave the area and then our attorney will ship us our paperwork and cards when they are complete.

If you haven't read about last week's trip to Texas and the kerfuffle that we had over Becky getting temporary residency, you'll need to read that first for context... it sets the stage for this post. Oh and don't forget the visa run from hell 6 months ago.

So all that being said, Monday was a holiday here, the beginning of the revolution. So our attorney's office was closed. And thus why I went to our attorney's office on Tuesday, Becky's birthday. We didn't want to wait another day!

She said to me as I left "Bring me home some good news for my birthday!"

Because she was only given temporary, and we thought that maybe She could re-apply here in SMA. So if the attorney says, yeah we can do that... well that'd be happy birthday news after all!

And since we sold our Minivan in Texas we're down to only our RV for a vehicle. But our RV is pretty stationary and does not help us get into downtown. So it's on buses and taxis that Alia and I took into town for our appointment.

We chat with our attorney a while about Becky's situation and he's flabbergasted, he's never seen the kids separated from the Mom with opposite visas and since it wasn't a financial purpose he says there was no reason for the lady to deny Becky permanente. However, he said it's pretty unlikely that she would be able to have it switched. They'll try, but it's fairly unlikely. We talked through a couple of options and decided to proceed with them trying and see what happens.

So I go to pull out my paperwork, and this is the key, when we came into the country we needed to ask the immigration office for a canje. Otherwise we would have to head back to the border and get it again. We were sure to stop in the immigration office. We received the Canje, and headed for home.

I handed 6 Canjes to the attorney, and his jaw dropped.

They were not filled out correctly.

In fact they were empty. completely, except for the word Canje. The officers were supposed to stamp our passports and to stamp our paperwork. I didn't know that I needed to follow up with them and ensure that they did their job.

So the attorney spoke with his assistant and then informed me that this was an emergency situation and that we needed to go to the immigration office right away. We did with his assistant accompanying us. When we spoke with the immigration officer he put the blame on us, that we didn't get the proper paperwork. That we were supposed to know what it looks like and that we were supposed to ensure that the immigration officer knew what he was doing.

So back to the attorney's office and we chat again. This time Becky's status is of lesser importance in that the rules of the visas (permanent and temporary BOTH!)  state that once you enter Mexico you cannot leave until the process is completed.

However we never legally entered the country.

Or did we?

We don't have stamps on our passports, we have no proof that we stopped at immigration and started the process. So it's a grey area and when I called us illegal immigrants the attorney scoffed and said, no you've got proof that you tried to do it right... no one would throw you in an immigration detention for this situation. The worst that could happen is they cancel your visas and you have to start all over again.

So we discuss options. We could just travel to the border, never leave Mexico but get the immigration officers to stamp the passports correctly. We could also leave the country and hope that Mexico doesn't have in their system that we left the country (thus we can NOT fly out).

This could also be a blessing in disguise, in that now we can hit up another Mexican consulate with an effort to get Becky on a permanent visa.

Once we enter the country we have 30 days to start the process. So technically we're not in a rush. However, we have a house booked for the week of Christmas near Merida. We're not going to give that up if we can help it! So we'd like to get this taken care of before we take off from SMA.

So since we cannot fly, our options are to rent a vehicle or take the bus system. We compared pricing, and found out that the only bus options are overnight. So for $400 we can take the bus for 10-12 hours and not have to pay for hotels or gas. Renting a car would be $500 plus hotels plus fuel but it would be worth the money if it is insured by speedwaymedia.com . So we're going to give the overnight buses a try... here's hoping we all feel fine for our entry into the US... since Becky can't sleep in moving vehicles.

We've opted to try a different consulate and a different border crossing, so we're taking the bus to Reynosa and walking across to McAllen. Becky has an early morning appointment at the consulate, and then we have 10+ hours to wait until the bus leaves...(Anyone have any ideas for things to do in McAllen, TX or Reynosa, MX?).  So we leave on Sunday afternoon, spend the day Monday in Reynosa/McAllen and then return home on Tuesday.

This time we hope to have correct stamps in our passports and on the paperwork. We also hope to have permanent visa for Becky.

I'm slightly concerned that either by our own error or by someone else's we will have our Visas revoked and have to start the process all over again but it's just a wait and see situation.

Lets just say I'm hoping that nothing else goes wrong.


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Paul Kortman

Dad of 4, husband, blogger, digital marketer, follower of Jesus. I podcast at nomadtogether.com and own connexdigitalmarketing.com We're on this crazy journey to travel the world as a lifestyle. Looking for help in how to live as a digital nomad family? Join this Facebook Group!

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  1. Karen

    Dang, you’ve been through a lot. I hope this all goes well for you. Why’d u sell the van? Try to have a Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Paul Kortman

      When we become permanent residents of Mexico we’re not allowed to have a US plated car here. We can pay to import the car but that’s around $3k and the minivan was at most worth $1,500 so we offloaded it in Texas so we would be prepared for permanent status. No regrets, it’s teaching us to use the local transportation system more, and that has been good!


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