jueves, 27 de mayo de 2010

La Migra

When most people think of "La Migra", they think of INS raids in the US, deportation, and other terrifying stuff. For me, it means something entirely different and very often pleasant.

After years of living in Mexico somewhere on the fringes of the legal side of things, last year Mario took some time off of work to "legalize me". At that point, I was completely illegal, having been 9 months pregnant when my tourist visa expired. We decided it was more important to hang out in town, near our hospital, than to take a 3 hour trip just to cross the border and get a new visa.

We were married for a year and a half before I finally waltzed into the migration office here in Saltillo. Clearly, we could have gotten the ball rolling a lot earlier. However, for the first year we were married, we were living near Toluca in the state of Mexico. At some point during that first year of marriage, we wandered into migration offices to see exactly what the process was to get me a resident visa. They wanted to send us to three different offices (including a police station). Mario has a deathly fear of the police in this country (sometimes it's a reasonable fear), so as we knew we'd be moving to Saltillo within a few months, we waited until we were here.

And I'm so glad we did.

The immigration office in Saltillo is located in a beautiful, tree-lined, residential neighborhood. The immigration office in Toluca required us to wait in line for the hours and hours it took to talk with someone at the desk. Here in Saltillo, they have a waiting room complete with chairs, a sign-in book, a security guard (to call us into the offices in an orderly fashion), a water cooler, and a TV that's always tuned to Chef Oropeza making something healthy and delicious.

Once it's my turn, I get escorted to one of two very spacious desks, which also provide various places to sit down. And the woman who explains the process and files my papers has got to be one of the most adorable women on the planet. Seeing her just makes me happy. She takes my papers, explains the next step, and volia--I'm on my way!

I may also really enjoy my trips to immigration simply because the bus stop on the way home backs up to a bakery on one side and an ice cream store on another. Or, it may be that last year, when I had to make multiple trips to file that first visa, I was so starved for adult interactions that talking to the security guard and Adorable Woman were really the highlights of my week.

This year, however, I do have real friends. I mentioned to one of those friends that I spent the morning at migration.

Her quick reply? "Ugh. I HATE that place."

Really? Are we talking about the same migration office? Surely a city as small as Saltillo can't have two.

She said they were mean and condescending. Clearly, she has not yet had the pleasure of dealing with Adorable Woman. I'll have to introduce them for her next appointment.

On the other hand, my friend doesn't mind going to the Civil Registration. I hate that place with a passion. And Adorable Woman told me that I should really go there next week to speed up delivery of my visa.

Nuts. Maybe I'll take my friend with me.

5 comentarios :

Rebecca dijo...

Jill, i just found your blog through another blog. Great job! I look forward to reading more in the future. I love finding other ladies in the same situations

Jill dijo...

Thanks, Rebecca! I agree, and am not almost shocked to find out how many of us there are living this life. I used to feel so alone!

Amanda dijo...

glad your process is so nice. Ours is usually just a pain because we have to go to GDL which is 2 hours away and we have the girls there. But the people are always helpfull. My next visit will be to apply for my permanent residency or for Dual citizenship and I will be done with the paperwork. Oh except we do have to go and tell them of our address change.

Karen dijo...

Hi, Jill. I am in a similar situation. Wondering how much you had to pay for multa for being "out-of-status?" I went to Veracruz about a year ago and they wanted a total of about 5000mxn, way more than I had after being relieved of all my money in DF. Half of that was for the FM2, but the rest was mostly multa. I don't see any way to get that kind of money, so wondering if your experience was the same. If you want to email me more info I would appreciate it. kmckown58 at hotmail.com. Thanks!!!

Jill dijo...

Hi Karen!

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner (I'm kind of slow and just found the "comments" button on the site . . . usually I don't see any new comments unless they're from the last few posts . . . but no longer!)

Anyway, with all counted for, the total might come close to 5000pesos (including the multa for the expired visa). Yearly renewal for the FM2 is 2801 pesos, and I had an expired tourist visa when I applied for my FM2, the fine for which was about 1500 (possibly a little more). It's steep, so here's hoping I'll get plenty of use out of the permanent resident visa when that comes through!

And I know of a woman who had to move back to the US while her husband is in Mexico, as they can't afford visas for either spouse in either country. Breaks my heart. Here's hoping that very few others have to go through that. (Wish that could come true.)