Immigration Stuff

I went to the Mexican consulate in Portland today to apply for a residente permanente visa.  This may be viewed as roughly equivalent to getting a green card in the USA, I think. I was the second person in line, and after a 15 minute wait I was in.

My retirement income is enough to qualify for permanente, and if I had been receiving it for 6 months or more I would have walked out with the thing affixed to my passport saying I was eligible. Alas, I have not been receiving retirement benefits for that long. I could have received a residente temporal today (good for 4 years, after which one can apply for permanente status), I was told. The other option I discussed with the visa person was going down to Mexico on a 180 day visitante permit (what one usually gets when heading down on vacation via the form filled out on the airplane), returning after I had 6 months of retirement income documented and then get a permanente.

One cannot, I was told upon asking, combine months during which one was working with months during which one was receiving pensions/social security. The Mexican government wants to make sure, I was told, that a continuing retirement income stream would be present to support the visa applicant. Award letters from pension boards and social security were also not sufficient – actual deposits into bank accounts were the only documentation that was acceptable.

One can also qualify based on how much money one has in investments – documented via 12 months of investment/savings account statements. Our retirement assets are heavily tilted toward pensions and social security. We do not have 12 months of investment account balances that meet the minimum required. Balances that have been recently boosted by the sale of real estate would not work – 12 months of statements with a combined balance above the minimum was it.

We are leaning toward coming down on a visitante in late Jan / early Feb and, when we return to visit my mother in July, applying for a permanente. At that point in time I will have the six months of documented pension / social security deposits that exceed the minimum required.

The young woman I dealt with was very personable and professional. She sympathized with our return from a month long trip to Mexico during the winter.

9 thoughts on “Immigration Stuff

  1. I am moving Barbara’s comment here, since it is related to this post. She said she was unable to comment on this post. I wonder what is up with that.

    I am commenting here because I don’t see a way to comment on your post “Immigration Stuff”. I hope you receive this.

    Your post is very helpful, thank you. I’ve researched this issue for months and months and no where I’ve found gave this kind of information. I, too, will be moving to Mexico when I retire. For me it will be four and a half years, and to San Miguel. My financial numbers have yet to shake down, and I am praying it’s enough to get permanent resident status. I will have just SS and a small pension. I did not know one must show that for six months. I am glad to know, however, that you do not have to wait four years with a temporary until applying for permanent.

    Thank you again for everything you share. It is the MOST help I’ve had!

    Wishing you all the best,


    • Please do recognize that the process varies from local consulate to consulate. When we applied recently in So. California, permanent status was not available, regardless of assets/income.

  2. Okay, somehow comments were accidentally disabled. There are now enabled.

    Barbara, The blog was a report on my experiences at one Mexican consulate at one point in time. By the time you retire, in four and a half years, procedures may have changed or may not be totally uniform from consulate to consulate. My advice is that you continue to do some research and stay up to date on the experiences of other folks.

    These are not always easy to find, and I can understand the frustration in trying to find them. There were clear and concise instructions about apply for various visa types on the Portland Consulate web site, in both English and Spanish. That is probably a good place to start.

  3. About 10 years ago we applied for our FM3s at the Portland consulate. It was quick and easy. We researched it ahead of time and had all our ducks in a row. And this October we got our Residente permamente cards in Nuevo Vallarta . It was quick and easy!! Not everyone’s experience will be the same. Some of our friends have nothing but horror stories about their renewals. . I say, do your homework; expect delays; bring an open mind and a ready smile and it will all go well.

  4. Thank you all for your replies to my comment. Yes, by the time I am able to retire things may have changed yet again. However I’d not known until this post that one can get a permanente visa without having had (and waited four years) the temporal, nor that if you were able to show six months of qualifying retirement income you could get something to show you qualify for permanente status attached to your passport at a consulate here in the U.S.

    Every little bit of knowledge helps me “get my ducks in a row” as I hope to move down as soon as possible after I retire. I am just up the road from Portland and may visit the Seattle consulate to gather more information, then depending on my impression of them, I may, when the time comes, go to Portland to actually get my visas.

    At any rate – you are most helpful, and I thank you again for all you share.

  5. I have enjoyed reading your blog. In fact, after stewing over it for 2 years, I announced my retirement last week, encouraged by your down-to-earth approach to this idea of living in Latin America. You have reassured me (us, actually, as my husband is now excited about it too) that we are not crazy; this can work! But I have one very practical question: how do you manage mail? I’ve heard some people use couriers, or have postal boxes, but how well does this work in reality? We are hoping to be able to roam around a bit, half a year in Mexico, some time in South America, a few months in Costa Rica. Yet, we want to retain a legal address in our home state so we can vote. Any suggestions from those who have done it? Thanks in advance.

    • Deborah,

      Thank you for your comment. In Mexico, some folks use the postal system with pretty good success. I plan to do that to some extent. Since we have not moved yet and experienced it, I am reluctant to provide any advice on that. I suggest you do some web searches about the postal systems in the countries where you plan to spend time and hopefully get some feedback from people who are living there and finding out how they navigate the mail thing.

  6. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter
    to be actually something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your
    next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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