Mexican Immigration Catch 22s when changing from a Temporary to Permanent visa
We have recently seen two situations where people find themselves in jeopardy of having their immigration papers denied through no fault of their own. One situation can be avoided but the other one may not be, leaving people in a tough situation.
This is not a case where Mexico’s National Immigration Institute is to blame but more the legislature as we now have had a full 6 years under the new immigration law passed in 2011 and that went into effect in November 2012. There are certain situations that could have not been reasonably anticipated. These are gray areas or situations where common sense says one thing but the letter of the law says another and that letter of the law must be followed.
The first situation is where a person applies for a temporary resident visa due to family unity at a Mexican Consulate. The Mexican consulate in Canada, for example, would ask for the Marriage Certificate if a husband wanted to get his wife a temporary visa as she could get one without having to qualify financially by being married to a temporary / permanent visa holder or a Mexican citizen.
Mexican Consulates do not usually ask for documents presented to them to be apostilled or legalized. A person who applies using a certified copy can get their spouse a temporary visa.
Problem comes up when after 2 years on the temporary visa, a person married to a permanent resident or Mexican citizen applies at immigration in Mexico to then change to a permanent resident. The Guidelines or Lineamientos published on November 8, 2012 state that at the presentation of the request to change to permanent resident you must prove the relationship which means presenting the marriage certificate… but then remember that all documents presented within Mexico MUST be apostilled / legalized and translated into Spanish. Here many people logically but erroneously assume that the same document that they used in the Mexican Consulate to get their initial visa would be equally acceptable at the National Immigration Institute in Mexico.
TIP: Any birth / marriage / death certificates or court judgments that you may have the need to use in the future in Mexico should be apostilled / legalized by the State / Province / Country of issue if not Mexico.
Apostilling / Legalizing documents has its own world of odd quirks and requirements. Some states or provinces require certain certifications of the original document by a certain public official or state it cannot be more then 5 or 10 years old or else no apostille /legalization. At times getting an apostille/legalization can be as easy as spending a few hundred dollars or less and waiting 2 days to 2 weeks. Other times it can be a complex round of visits to government offices or paying over $500US / Canadian dollars and waiting weeks or longer to have new documents reissued that meet the guidelines then certification then apostille / legalization.
The second situation also is for requesting to be a permanent resident after being a temporary resident. The Guidelines or Lineamientos published on November 8, 2012 state that at the presentation of the request to change to permanent resident you must provide your passport that you used to obtain the temporary resident visa you now are asking to change to permanent.
This is usually not a problem EXCEPT for people who have had their passports lost/stolen or renewed and they did not get their old passport back or threw it away or lost it.
Yes, Mexico’s National Immigration Institute probably does have a copy of the passport you used plus everything else you submitted somewhere, in a file in a box in another state or wherever they store their old files. There is no requirement for them to send out a search team to locate their copy of your old document.
TIP: Get notarized certified copies (from any Notary Public, or Notario Publico) of your passport face page, consular visa and FMM you used to enter as we have seen cases where people who have had those documents have been able to overcome this obstacle and not be condemned due to unfortunate or criminal events.
Another reason to get certified copies of your passport and immigration card and limit the carrying of originals. You are more likely to lose your originals or have them stolen if carrying them daily.