We love Mexico, living there for the last year has helped us confirm that it's a place we'd like to set up a home base in.
However, when we decided we'd like to add a (non white) child to our family we were informed that permanent residents of Mexico can adopt for free domestically in Mexico.
So we decided to try to skip the four year standard process of getting a temporary residency visa first and then graduate to a permanent resident visa after 4 years.
There's a loophole that if you have enough money coming in to afford your dependents and you are retired from the day to day activity in the business you can skip the process and jump right to permanent.
To do this you have to start the application process at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico. We needed to do a visa run and grab stuff in Texas anyways, so we decided to make an attempt.
This past Tuesday we had appointments for all six of us. We arrived on time and checked in. The guy at the checkin desk spoke Spanish and some English so that was helpful.
After an hour of waiting I checked with the guy and found out they had decided to let someone else go in front of us because there was only one of him, versus 6 of us.
This seemed odd to us, as on one hand sure let the quicker party go first, but on the other hand they only have 6 visa appointments a day and we booked all of them for that day. Why was this other guy even there? Plus we've got kids who get squirrelly when attempting to sit still for a while.
The other guy was of Korean descent and his father was there. I'll refer to them as the Koreans to make it easy, not for any racial remarks or thoughts.
So, it was finally our turn!
We sit down and tell the lady in the other side of the protective glass that I'm retired and we'd like to apply for permanent residency in Mexico.
Before this moment we had discussed that it's really up to the person on the other side of the desk. If they were willing, then we'd get it. If they're not willing we'd have to settle for the "standard" path of 4 years of temporary residency.
So to say the least there were a whole lot of emotions going into that moment. Plus the kids were being a challenge. They're kids and when there is stress they smell it and act differently because they aren't prepared for it. Plus we generally try to let them run free and explore their world. So trying to be loving, firm and not dictatorial in our demands that they sit still, it doesn't always work.
And then the other shoe drops. The lady on the other side doesn't speak any English.
But we understand Spanish, and the Spanish word for no is no.
No, you cannot have permanent residency.
What? Why not?
Because you need temporary first. It's the way it works.
But I'm retired.
No your not (implying I'm too young to be retired).
She then relents and started looking through our financial statements. Cannot accept this one because it's a business account and your name is not on the account. You have no paperwork proving this is your business.
Okay then just use my personal account.
So who is this JPMorgan for all these deposits?
That's my business bank. See the name of the bank on this statement, that's jpmorgan chase, one of the largest banks in this country you are living in. And you don't know what jpmorgan is? Oh boy we're in trouble!
So then she says do you have any paperwork to show that you're retired?
No, what would that be?
I don't know, but you don't have it so no is the answer.
Ug, fine, give me 30 minutes I'll have my COO sign a statement, email it to me and I'll print it and bring it back. (Remember we had the whole morning booked, it's only 10am and I know she has us on her todo list for the rest of their working day)
Oh, we'll let me try to find another way to reject you.... I need to ask how much you need to make for your dependants.
Turns out the minimum is $1,900 a month for the head of household, and $280 for each dependent. I already told her we make $4,500 a month. And for the 25 minutes it took for her to get the answers we were sweating. Because if it almost $2k for me, $1,400 for four kids... that only left $1,100 for Becky. I thought for sure adults would be equal and she'd be $1,900. Turns out she is just a dependent ($280) at that point I knew we'd qualify!!!
However, my income fluxes, and they only wanted the last 6 months of income to count. Two of those months we only paid ourselves $2k. So they had to add up the last 6 months of income and divide by 6 to get an average. Turns out I was right. We pay ourselves an average of $4,600 ish.
I (Paul) qualify.
The kids qualify with me.
However she points at her screen and says it's the law that my wife has to be temporary for two years before applying for permanent.
We've got nothing.
No leg to stand on. Nothing to argue with her over.
I felt that at this point we had played all of our cards. We had nothing left to fight with, so we just had to accept it, despite not understanding it.
And for some reason I became an optimist about it. More on that later.
While I'd love to gloss over the rest of our appointment, I cannot in good conscience say it went smoothly.
She put all of my info from my application and my passport into the computer. And that seemed to take forever. It did include 5 minutes of her asking for different email addresses because every one I had given to her was returning as invalid in their system. Turns out if you have an "out of office" auto responder enabled it shows up in the Mexican imagration as an invalid email address.
When she got done with all that she said we needed to wait. The computer sends the application to three different departments to verify i am who I say that I am.
And since this lady wasn't trying to be kind she says it might take an hour it might take 10 days.
I have no idea why she wanted to scare us and throw our lives and plans into confusion. But she's that kind of lady.
After about an hour I approached her desk to see if anything was different, and to find out if we could leave? It was almost lunch time, the kids hadn't had a morning snack, and they were struggling (Saying nothing about Becky and I who had just been through the emotional ringer)
She said, there's no update. Oh and our office closes at 1:30... so why don't you leave for an hour, grab some lunch and then be back in time to check before we close.
Well now, that's a great idea! Wish I had thought of that an hour ago when you were talking it might be 10 days!
Anyhow, we all piled into one vehicle, we had been driving two, our van and a rental from Mexico, as when you receive permanent residency you're no longer allowed to have a us plated vehicle. Our van is only with $1k, and the import fees are around $3k. So if we received permanent status we'd have to sell our van in the states.
So we found a Subway restaurant outside of downtown, basically in the suburbs, and there was a T-Mobile store nearby. Our todo list for the next three days had about 20 stops, two of them were Subway and T-Mobile. So we thought we could cover a couple of the errands while we were waiting.
There was a lot of talk between Becky and I about what if we have to wait 10 days, or what if we have to return to the consulate tomorrow? We had a house booked and plans in San Antonio, 2.5 hours away.
And there was more talk about the fact that Becky didn't receive permanent status.
We didn't know why, we don't know if it was just that lady's way of sticking it to us. But as far as we knew we had done everything we could.
So what did this mean for the adoption?
We knew we might be able to re-apply sooner than 2 years, we might be able to actually get this taken care of, and what if we can adopt because I'm a permanent, what if they only need one parent to be permanent?
Like I said, I suddenly became an optimist... however one of those points has since been shot down.
We confirmed that both parents need to be permanent residents in order to adopt.
So after lunch and a visit to a mall we returned to the consulate and found she was now processing the kids visas!!!!
Evidently I had passed, and therefore there was no need to wait on the dependants.
The process of taking our pictures (even though we had supplied passport pictures) and getting everything into the computer took some time... but finally we had all of our passports, 5 had permanent visa stamps in them, 1 had a temporary sticker.
We then took off for San Antonio, one of my favorite cities in the world!
As I write this we're halfway back to Gracie in Mexico. The border crossing went smoothly except they charged me $150 import fee on the windshields for Gracie.
We've discovered that the immigration office in San Miguel de Allende is the most experienced and may find a way for us to switch Becky to permanent. We'll get that process started on Monday. And we'll be hiring a lawyer to ensure every thing is done smoothly and perhaps he might know how to get Becky switched.
So everyone who's been following along keeps asking, did you get permanent visas? And the answer is yes and no. Me the optimist believes that we can get Becky's switched. However, as it stands right now, unless things change we're in a two year waiting period. :(