Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Another trip to Immigration

Another day of waiting at the Immigration office
Nan and I returned to Immigration in Cancun yesterday to process requests for permiso de salida y regreso (permission to leave and return). We surrendered our travel visas last week when we submitted the paperwork to convert our residente temporal (temporary resident) visas into residency cards. Without our travel visas, we cannot leave Mexico legally. It takes special permission: a letter of explanation in Spanish, an official form, copies of passports and other documents, face photos, fingerprints, and 320 pesos. Some of this we did not know about before we showed up bright and early to wait in line outside the office again, this time in blazing hot sunshine.

Nan's mother fell and broke her hip recently. She is recovering well with the support of her large family, and Nan wants to be with her now, not in the three weeks we were told last week that it would take to get our residency cards. Thus, her need for special permission. My father is turning 80 at the end of this month, and my family has planned a get-together in San Diego. But if it takes longer than three weeks to get our residency cards, then I would be out of luck, and I already have airline tickets. Thus, my need for special permission.

When we finally made it to the head of the line, we were told by the officer that we needed copies of documents and proofs of payment that we did not have. Also, my letter of explanation was not specific enough. Apparently, "family matters" is not a sufficient excuse. We would need to do as requested and then stand in line again. I was ready to go back to Isla Mujeres and return the next day, but Nan pointed out that we could probably get everything done in Cancun. We started at the Banjercito bank around the corner, to pay the necessary fees and collect our receipts as proof. I remembered seeing an Internet cafe out the bus window on our way to the Immigration office, so I went off to find it while Nan held our new place in line. Six or seven blocks of very hot walking later, I found the cafe and retyped my letter in Spanish on a Spanish keyboard--not as easy as it sounds--and provided details of the birthday trip to San Diego. I made the necessary document copies, paid my sixteen pesos (only $1.25 USD for a half-hour of computer time and eight copies), and then headed back to Immigration.

I expected that Nan would be near the head of the line after the 45 minutes I was gone, but the line had barely moved and she was still not even under the awning. I held our place in the brutal sun while she went for liters of cold water at a nearby Oxxo (Mexico's version of 7-Eleven). Two hours later, we made it back inside to speak again with the officer. This time, Nan's request and documentation were fine, but my request was too far into the future. I would need to return five or six days before my scheduled departure. Why he didn't tell me that the first time is beyond me. We were told to sit and wait another half-hour and then Nan would be fingerprinted. A half-hour later, Nan got up to talk with an English-speaking officer who said no, Nan's fingerprinting would take place when we returned on Thursday for her final document processing, which will require another long wait in line. No kidding.

Then on June 24 and again on June 27, I will need to return for the two trips necessary to process my own permission. Sometime in July, enough time will have passed that we should be notified to return to finish the processing of our residency cards, though an American in line ahead of us told us not to get too excited; he had been waiting for his for almost three months.


Lesley Harrower-Sullivan said...

My heart sank this morning when I read this.Thinking of you both.Lesley and Kevin

Lesley Harrower-Sullivan said...

So sorry to read your post this morning,bureaucracy SUCKS!!!