There is a lot of advice given on the internet, especially on web-chat forums, but in the midst of all the chatter, a few voices are broadly recognized to give advice that stands rises above the crowd. Rolly Brook is one. Spencer McMullen is another.
Rolly? He has just announced his retirement: ~ It’s time to say good-bye ~
Note: If you have other questions on coming to Mexico, see our main article at: ~ Current Rules and Procedures for Immigration, Visiting, and Staying in Mexico
Back to the topic: Regarding Residente Temporal and Residente Permamente card holders, the talented and well-respected attorney, Spencer McMullen offers the following very good advice:
“The only people that should enter Mexico as tourists are those who want to leave in 180 days. Using their nationwide computer databases, Immigration is now checking and cross referencing the entrances of foreigners with Residente Permanente and Residente Temporal visas with the information from their FMM – entering into Mexico. The law states that if a Residente Permanente or Residente Temporal enters or exits as a tourist, then they will have their Temporal or Permanente visa canceled.
Why would people who have one of these documents risk losing everything, including all the time and money spent?
Here are some commons reasons:
- Ignorance about having to show their travel letter (or needing one when traveling while papers in process) as they exit and re-enter Mexico.
- Being too cheap to pay for a travel letter (the INM exit and re-entry permit needed when we leave Mexico while our Residency application is being processed by INM).
- Not showing their visa sticker from the consulate in their passport upon arriving in Mexico.
- Having an ignorant INM agent at the border or airport, who thinks all foreigners are tourists when you enter Mexico, and who (mistakenly) tells you to sort out any problems at your INM office.
NEVER leave the immigration counter if you were given a tourist visa and you are not a tourist, because INM at the entry points are trying to process (get rid of) you quickly, but once you leave that entry-point INM counter, then you are stuck and risk losing everything later. Pay attention: If your FMM form says “180 days”, then they marked you as a tourist. If you get a special visa from a Mexican consulate to enter Mexico, then your FMM form they give you will say “30 days”. Once you leave the INM entry-point area, they will assume that you did wrong, (not them), and they will cancel your document.
People with travel letters need to get both entry and exit stamps on the travel letter, show it at all times, and do not let the INM entry-point agents keep it.
People whose previous year’s INM permit expires while outside Mexico, may enter within 55 days of expiration. They MUST show their expired document to the INM entry-point agents. They must NOT get a a tourist card, and then apply for renewal within 5 days.
A new trick used by INM is to call foreigners into the INM office, and then deny them the right to an attorney or translator. This is then followed by tricking the foreigner into confessing (inappropriately) that they entered wrong information on their FMM, and have the foreigner sign a all-Spanish form. Instead, demand your right to an attorney or translator and NEVER accept blame for mistakes made by INM personnel.”
* * * * * * *
References: Lic. Spencer McMullen is a Mexican licensed attorney (Cédula #7928026) and official court translator (Perito Traductor). Mx 376-765-7553″
* * * * * * *
Here are some other items to consider, (from a Yucalandia perspective), if you like traveling in and out of Mexico with few hassles:
1. The FMM is not a tourist visa and it is not a visitante visa. Instead, it is the form used to log foreigner’s EXITs and entries for Mexico.
2. It is important for Temporary Residents and Permanent Residents to boldly HAND WRITE their INM card-type (~ “RESIDENTE TEMPORAL” ~ or ~ “RESIDENTE PERMANENTE”~ ) across the top of BOTH the top half and the bottom half of their Forma Multiple Migratoria (FMM) . This eliminates (or greatly reduces) the “visitante” / “tourist” issues that Spencer highlights above.
3. For Residente Temporal and Residente Permanentes: You fill out the Forma Multiple Migratoria (FMM) when you leave Mexico. As you exit, the officials keep half of the FMM form. When you return to Mexico, you then hand-back (submit) the remaining half.
4. As a Residente Permanente, my passport has been stamped all 4 times by Mexican INM both as I exited Mexico and entered Mexico, since getting the Residente Permanente card.
5. There are official INM rules and “standard” procedures for these things, but individual INM offices and individual INM agents still sometimes do whatever strikes them in the moment, so SPENCER IS RIGHT:
Educate yourself. ….Be careful with what you say, …. and careful with what you sign, … because INM offices and INM agents do make significant mistakes. If we have problems with INM, it does not work easily to try to blame problems on INM mistakes, even when their mistakes caused the problems.
“Who would care if the FMM was a tourist form or a (residents) form?”
Based on 100’s of old posts across Mexican expat forums, many many gringos think that an FMMs are a tourist visa or a visitante visa. The key issue Spencer highlights is to distinguish that we “Residentes” NOT enter as Visitante or Tourists…. (whether by intent or by error)
“We need a little more detail on “HAND WRITE” as opposed to what? ”
The FMM form has NO SPOT to formally identify what our visa status is, and there is NO SPOT on the FMM for us to specify that we are NOT VISITANTEs or tourists….
This means, as written above, we have to HANDWRITE your visa status, (RESIDENTE PERMANENTE or RESIDENT TEMPORAL), BOLDLY, across the top of each half of the FMM form.
There is a white space with no printing at the top of each half of the FMM.
e.g. GOOD INM agents boldly hand-write: “RESIDENTE TEMPORAL” …. or ….. “RESIDENTE PERMANENTE” … onto each half of the FMM form.
Since some INM agents do not write this, we (expat – foreigners) can mostly short-circuit the false-visitor-visa entry problems Spencer describes, by personally writing the correct INM Visa information on our own FMMs.
Further, Spencer has noted: There is a place on the FMM form to list our FM2/FM3 or temporary or permanent visa number, as well as boxes they need to check under the
“official use only” section, mentioning you have a temp or permanent document.
Hope this makes for smooooooth travels,
* * * *
Note: If you have other questions on visiting or Immigrating to Mexico, see our main article at: ~ Current Rules and Procedures for Immigration, Visiting, and Staying in Mexico .
Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
<em>© Steven M. Fry</em>
Read on, MacDuff.