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Protecting Expat Visa Status When Leaving Mexico

At least a dozen lakeside area immigrants have lost their residency visas due to paperwork glitches.

Foreign citizens who have obtained residency visas in Mexico may lose that legal status whenever they venture out for travel beyond the Mexican borders.

Officials from the Instituto Nacional de Migration (INM) have issued a warning to that effect during a conference of expats held April 11th, 2017.

Evidently, a minor clerical error when going through immigration stations at border crossings and international airports can end up getting automatically switched from Residence Temporal (RT) or Residence Permanente (RP) status to a visitor permit good for a maximum of 180 days.

The problem stems from errors in processing the Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM),  a standard from that must be submitted individually by all foreigners entering and exiting Mexico.

For tourists traveling beyond the border zone, the two-part FMM serves as their official visitor permit.  The larger top portion is stamped and collected by immigration officers upon entry to the country, with the lower segment handed back upon departure.

In contrast, as an RT or RP visa holder, any time you fly out of Mexico you will have to fill out an FMM and give it the airline carrier to be attached to your boarding pass. The shorter lower segment will be collected at the INM desk  prior to entering the boarding area.

The trickier part is how the FMM is handled when reentering Mexico.  Airline personnal usually hand out the forms on board the incoming flight.  Residentes fill in the information boxes in the top portion of the form, including noting Mexico as country of resudence (box #7), the number shown on the back of the FMM green card (box #8) , checking otro/other for purpose of trip (box #9).

It is recommended to add the hand-written notation Residente Permanente or Residente Temporal across the top of the form and detaching the lower portion of the form that is meant to be kept only by persons coming into the country as visitors.

Once off the plane pay close attention as you go throught imigration.  First of all show the official your IMN resident green card and passport and state “soy residente” then hand over only the top portion of the FMM. Cooperate if the official on duty insists that you fill out both segments of the form, but make sure that the gray areas designated for Uso Official are filled out properly before leaving the immigration desk.

If there is a check mark in the section labeled Estancia Maxima 180 days you will be registered as a visitor in the IMN data base, automatically losing your resident status.  In that case see that the mistake is corrected and the secion below titled Unicamente Para Electos Estadisticos, is checked off in the box labled Tarjeta Permanente/Temporal.

Residents immigrants should follow the same procedures when leaving and entering the country by land or sea.

RP or RT holders are not subject to paying any processing fees to airline companies or immigration checkpoints since they have already paid the requisite taxes for obtaining their visas.

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