There are, as you know, other sites out there, such as YES (Yucatan Expat Services) that will take you through the FM3 or FM2 renewal process step by step, so this article won’t be about the actual process itself, but rather just a few comments by me on my experience this past week.
Yesterday, I spent the good part of the morning (all of it actually) sitting in the Migracion office here in sunny Merida. Migracion, for those of you new to the word, is the term used to generically describe the Immigration office here. It is located in a former private home or rather mansion; not an actual office built for the purpose, and so is a series of rooms in a house that some wealthy family has given up in rent to this branch of the federal government. In their rental clause, we can assume that a stipulation was made that nothing be changed architecturally since many furnishings are still there that have absolutely nothing to do in a federal immigration office. Like that giant chandelier in the room where you get your application looked at. Crammed in what I am guessing was a dining room at one point are many desks and shelves of the Office Depot particle board variety, along with a double row of black seating for the applicants as they wait their turn, each holding either a little green or orange square of laminated paper with a number on it.
This is a very official little paper and measures about 3/4 of an inch square, so don’t lose it. I recommend gripping it tightly between thumb and forefinger, although your thumb will probably render it invisible; that’s how big it is.
As you sit there, clutching that piece of paper, you can’t help but notice the huge art-deco-ish chandelier hanging above you, now retrofitted with ghastly energy saving blue-white light bulbs. The photo I took of it for yesterdays trivia game “Where in the Yucatan am I?” (played on Twitter – stay tuned for another game real soon) prompted one player to remark that he thought I was somewhere under a rocket being launched. This gives you an idea of what this chandelier looks like. I will post the photo of the lamp, along with the other two photo-clues, below.
Also, a second clue I posted on Twitter was of the floor. As in most houses built in the 1800’s this mansion has beautiful pasta tile floors that form a kind of carpet on the floor of each room; very pretty.
The walls, you will notice, have remnants of that brown packing tape that is used to stick notices and papers to the walls, and once those papers and notices have been removed, the tape leaves a sticky brown residue that is impossible to remove and pretty well ruins the once white walls. Notice also the doors, beautifully made back in the day and never designed for multiple per-minute openings and closings – they are suffering terribly and special hinges and latches have been installed to enable them to close properly.
The personnel in the office is, for the most part, aloof and there are many people walking about – some uniformed, some not – usually holding a bunch of papers. Their instructions apparently are not to make eye contact with the victims or applicants until the applicants turn comes up. The friendlier ones are the ladies that have been in Migracion since the Ice Age and who have labored under the many delegados that have come and gone during their tenure. The delegados, you see, are the ones who head up the branch of this and any office run by the federal government (Immigration, IMSS, INFONAVIT, Tourism etc) and they are appointed by friends in high places and do not necessarily have a clue about the job involved in their new prestigious position. And so, the actual work is done by the sub-delegado and the previously-mentioned ladies who are all very nice, know everyone and how to get things done.
I spent the morning there, as I mentioned earlier and had plenty of time to observe the office and all of us applicants there. Some read books, others chatted amongst themselves, bored children jumped and screamed delightedly on the stairs. There was plenty to see and time passed quickly, from 10 AM to noon. Once at the desk, I found that my FM2 renewal was pretty well on its way and that I was to hand in a copy of my last tax payment, which I did, and then received a payment form to pay for the renewal at a bank. If you are unfamiliar with this process, most government offices distrust their employees or have no control systems in place to handle money and so one must always pay the fee, cuota, fine, whatever – at a bank.
Once I paid, I rushed back to be in the office before the gates close at 1:00 PM and was helped about an hour later. My bank receipt was collected and I was given a cita – an appointment – to come back next week to receive the actual renewal, which, it was explained to me, would be in the form of a credit card size visa, much like the ones issued by the US of A and the little gray booklet would become obsolete.
Once next week comes along, I will write about the exciting denouement to this adventure!