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Immigration Changes for Residents of Lake Chapala, Mexico

Mexico’s Immigration Institute (INM) is introducing sweeping immigration changes in an attempt to save time, be easier for foreigners and to save the bureau money.

The major thrust of the changes will be online applications, new tourist forms and the issuance of credential-size ID’s for FM 3’s and FM 2’s.

Through this nationwide modernization program the INM seeks to end the arbitrary decision making that has prevailed at regional delegations for so many years.

Under the new centralized system foreigners can take their immigration requests to any INM office in Mexico.

Obviously, it is going to take some for all INM offices to get up to speed, as it were, and some office may still ask for additional documents not listed on the official INM web site for applications. (Tramites)

Chief among the changes launched April 30th is the obligatory online application system which includes all visa changes, FM extensions, work and marriage permits etc.

This means that prier to going to an INM office with all necessary documents one must first log on to: and fill out an application form that corresponds to their particular immigration request.

On the site they must find the appropriate form and fill in all the necessary fields. Once completed it must be sent electronically. They must print out this form which contains a reference number (numero de pieza) and take it together with all the required documents to their nearest INM office.

The INM web site lists all of the required documents for each immigration application (tramite) such as extending a tourist visa becoming and FM 3 (rentista) retired person living on their own income, switching from temporary resident (FM 3) to permanent resident (FM 2), studying working here etc.

An advantage of the new system is that most applicants will then only have to make one more trio to the INM office to pick up their visas. Everyone will be given a password so they can follow the progress of their applications online. They will be able to see when approval has been given to go in the INM office and pick up their visas.

This will end the long lines of those just to ask how one’s application is doing.

A major drawback is that the English section of the INM registration site is not yet up and running and to date there is no clear indication of when English instructions will be available. Non- Spanish speaking applicants will require help not only for translation but also for understanding of the immigration process.

There are positive aspects to the changes such as wallet-size ID’s for all FM 3’sand FM 2’s and this will make it easier as all foreigners must carry the immigration documents at all times.

Another advantage is that if a person loses an ID or has it stolen they won’t have to fill a police report as in the past and there will be less information on the card that criminals could use.

Patience is going to be required as the new system takes effect but overall it will be a much better system of obtaining ones necessary immigration documents.

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