Renewing My Mexican Visa
On April 30th of this year, the Instituto Nacional de Migracion, the government entity that provides immigration services to us expats living in Mexico, changed the process of applying for and renewing visas and put it all online. I went into the offices of INM on May 4th to ask about renewing my FM3 for this year and was handed a piece of paper. The paper told to me go to www.inami.gob.mx, look under Tramites and register for renewal “online”. Oo-o-okaaay!
At home, on my computer, printer at the ready, I followed the instructions. There was a video, in English, that described what each of the several levels of being a visitor in Mexico are named and how one is covered under each section. That was the extent of the English at this government website at the time. And although I have had over 10 years of experience in trudging through the various levels of bureaucracy in this country, I wilted when faced with figuring out this new approach to FM3 renewal. And so I took myself to YES (Yucatan Expatriate Services), to seek assistance.
Betty Quijano, one of the able-bodied project managers working there to help people like me, and Paulina, her assistant, were interested in learning about this new process with an actual case study. They were immediately helpful, taking care of everything right down to getting the correct name (and correct spelling) of the Regional Director to put on the letter (Solicitud de tramite) that must be included with a request for renewal. They sent me off with the Formato Migratorio para Tramites de Estancia printed off of the INM site with everything filled in correctly and its own pieza (file number). Betty offered any follow up I might need with further requests from INM. If everything was not clear to me through this process, I was to call the office and they would supply assistance.
They also printed off a page which told what requisitos were needed with the application for renewal, all of which I had in hand when I went to the office:
- Solicitud de tramite
- Original de la forma migratoria (FM3)
- Comprobante de pago de derechos
In this new way of doing things, copies of your active bank account statement are not needed. You have to surrender your old FM3 booklet, as you will be issued a new laminated card that will be your new identification. You must show a comprabante de pago de derechos (the ever-useful CFE bill will do) and you just show it, copy not needed.
I took all these pieces back to INM early one Thursday morning, sat with an agent while she checked everything and did some data entry. Then I was given a form to take to the bank and pay for this renewal service. Now that was a step I recognized from past years, at least! (You should make sure you do the payment at this point in the process, rather than leaving it until later.)
As soon as I returned to the INM with the receipt from the bank, I was given another piece of paper which gave me the website address to track my visa and to let me know when I could return to the INM office to pick it up. I was to return when directed, with five photos in the infantile size. All this was spelled out on a slip of paper which I was able to show to the photographer. Wal-Mart is one place with the facility to do these photos in Merida (and probably other places in Mexico), which made it easy for me.
After approximately 5 days of waiting, and checking the INM website each day, a message of Notifiacion en ventanilla appeared. I called Betty and ask her if she thought this meant that the documents were ready. That’s what it meant, all right! I printed off this page to take with me to the INM offices, as I find it helps to have something with you to show where you are in the process. There was a little waiting around at INM (there seemed to be a high volume of supplicants that day), and I was given my new visa, which is a card, with photo and thumbprint, that I now can carry in my wallet and have with me at all times.
I must admit to being impressed. We have truly arrived in the 21st Century with INM. All in all, it took about two weeks to complete the entire process, and I wasn’t pushing it.
Yes, I could have stumbled around in this initially unfamiliar territory and got the renewal accomplished, but I was proud of myself for circumventing unnecessary anguish by working with YES to get me started. Next year, I will undoubtedly be able to do this on my own. If I can’t, I will have no hesitation about calling Betty for some assistance.
Editor's Note: This process has changed yet again since late 2010 when this article was written. It is best to check with a local service or an immigration attorney to determine the best course of obtaining your Mexican visa.
Working Gringos 11 years ago
Victoria, when it comes to immigration law, we rely on the people at Yucatan Expatriate Services (www.yucatanYES.com) to tell us. There is a young woman there, Adriana, who has a very close relationship to the immigration office in Merida. There have been updates to the law (over a year ago) that have still not been put into practice... announced, but not made "law" yet. The change you are referring to doesn't sound familiar... we would suggest checking with YES.
Victoria 11 years ago
It is now September 2012 and again there have been changes in the immigration laws. This time relating to your fifth year in Mexico on an FM3. I believe you now have to leave the country and start the process all over, if you stay in the country you will have to pay a fine as strange as this might sound. I was also wondering what happens if you move from one state to another and now have a different address than the one listed on your FM3. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Working Gringos 11 years ago
Go to www.yucatanyes.com and talk to Adriana there. She speaks English and Spanish, and Yucatan Expatriate Services has a program to help you get your visa that doesn't cost too much. Good luck!
alice 11 years ago
Can someone help me solve this problem? My boyfriend has expired his FMM, and now he needs the FM3. We live in Yucatan, but we don't know people or places to help us do this paper work. Also they are saying if we want to get married we need the permission of immigration?? If you know a nice person i will appreciate it. Also that doesn't cost too much... because they think that 'cause we are foreigners they can charge us more. thanks!! have a nice week!
Sharron 12 years ago
In response to Deborah M dd 15 February 2011. Yes, YES is definitely the way to go. For just MXN250.00 I felt it was really worth the price. Please understand when I say this I have worked in logistics and documentation for many years which means my work experience instinctively told me to try it on my own. But I always believe in appealing to a higher authority and I was must pleased with the work Adriana Cruz at YES performed to expedite the process. I upgraded my tourist visa to an FM3 which is a most complicated process and when I am ready to renew it next year I will certainly seek the advice of YES.
I had heard reports from others who decided to approach Mexican Immigration on their own and complained incessantly of the hassle. Sorry, but with the work of YES my FM3 application and granting went very smoothly. My biggest "hassle" was the long wait in line at the bank to pay the fees. So yes, go YES.
Deborah M. 12 years ago
Are there any updates on the process of renewing the FM3?
How long is it currently taking?
Is YES the way to go?
Derek 12 years ago
Thank you for this informative and helpful article. I should add that this seems typical of anything related to this excellent website which we are finding very useful. My partner and I intend to relocate to Merida, so any information regarding visa acquisition is of foremost interest. As a same sex couple, married in Canada (one Mexican, the other Canadian) we are wondering how the new laws apply and whether it may assist the Canadian partner getting legal status in Mexico?
Yucatan Living - Immigration 13 years ago
[...] IMPORTANT: As of June 1st, 2010, the immigration process has changed significantly and the procedures described below are no longer accurate. For a description of the new procedures, please read: Renewing my Mexican Visa. [...]
Trish Taylor 13 years ago
I have a FM2 and have just read that you have to be in Mexico 3 out of 5 years. I thought that you could only leave Mexico for 180 days in 5 years. Has this law changed?
Michele Smith 13 years ago
Thanks so much for sharing. I am researching
Taking The leap And after 25 yrs (kid growm)
Hopeful My websites will come through.
Como no? La vida es corta?!
Working Gringos 13 years ago
thank you Neil!
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