Tag Archives: renewing u.s. passport in mexico

Getting Legal–Renewing our U.S. passports in México-DHL

DHL

As I mentioned in a prior post, passports are now sent via DHL rather than requiring a return trip to the consulate or embassy. (See Getting Legal–Renewing our U.S. passports in México–Trip 1) While on the surface, this may seem like a streamlined process, for us it required a bit of extra effort.

As we have no address in La Yacata we made arrangements with the local DHL office to have the passports sent to the office and they would call us to pick it up. At the beginning of September, I received a phone call from an apologetic worker that said if we did not pick up the package that contained my son’s passport before 1 p.m. that day, it would be returned to the U.S. embassy in Mexico City. He explained that the package had been at the office for 30 days. I asked why no one had contacted us before now. Seems he had been on vacation and no one else thought to call. I assured him that we would be there pronto (soon). He reminded me that since the passport was for a minor, I would need to present not only my photo I.D. but my son’s U.S. birth certificate. I sent my husband with the documents immediately and all was well.

Only the parents or tutores (guardians) with valid official Mexican identification may pick up a package sent via DHL for a minor recipient. The parent or guardian also must present the minor’s original U.S. birth certificate along with a copy.

After I submitted a new passport photo in San Miguel de Allende (See Getting Legal–Renewing our U.S. passports in México–Trip 3), I waited a few weeks, then checked the website with the tracking number. I couldn’t figure out what the locations and shipment details meant, but thought it a good idea to go in person and check whether it had arrived. I was concerned it might be sent back and my passport would be seen no more and the process would need to be repeated–that’s how my luck tends to be anyway.

So during my lunch break towards the end of September, I headed to the office. In order to pick up the document, I would need to present a valid IFE (voter registration card), my passport or my driver’s license. Well, since I am a permanent resident, not a citizen, I am not eligible to vote and, therefore, have no IFE. (See Getting Legal–Residency at last) Then, since my passport had expired and the new passport was inside the package, I wouldn’t be able to present that as identification. Fortunately, I had made the special effort to get my moto license this summer, so I had valid Mexican identification. (See Getting Legal–License to drive) I am not sure why my Mexican Permanent Residency Card would not be acceptable for identification purposes, but it hasn’t been accepted in any place that I have tried to use it. Not at the bank, not at the driver’s license place, and not at DHL. What’ s the point in having gone through the effort of getting the card if it’s not considered valid I.D.?

If I wanted to send my husband for the package, since he does have a current IFE, he would need to present a carta poder simple (letter granting permission) signed by me, the person the package was addressed to, in addition to his own IFE, passport or driver’s license and a copy of my own IFE, passport or driver’s license. Seems simpler to go myself.

So I went to the office still with the uncertainty whether it had arrived and presented my tracking papers and I.D. My package had arrived and after a bit of searching, the clerk handed it over. You can not imagine my relief. I’m now good passport wise for 10 years, my son for 5.

Along with my passport where some brochures from the U.S. government. I was interested to note that I can now register with a STEP program (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) and the U.S. government can track my travels. No, thank you. I can now also register my minor child in the CPIAP (Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program) in the Department’s Passport Lookout System. Seems that if a minor registered by one or the other parent makes an application for a passport, the parent that did the registering would be contacted and informed of possible plans for international travel. Again, no thanks. The U.S. government also kindly provides daily updates on Facebook and Twitter for travel alerts and warnings. No thanks! And there is a free application for Apple devices (Smart Traveler) for your traveling pleasure. Not on your life! But thanks just the same for the information. Have a nice day!

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Getting Legal–Renewing our U.S. passports in México–Trip 3

U.S.-passport

The following Monday, I received an email from the U.S. consulate saying that I wouldn’t need any other documentation with the photo and that the office hours were Monday thru Thursday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Gee thanks.

As for my change in immigration status, I decided to wait until the next paycheck before making the trip again. It was more than 5 days later, but I didn’t want to be making a trip in vain if the paperwork wasn’t processed yet. I checked the web page every other day for news. Ten business days later, I received an email that told me to check the web page. I did and it said “Se emitió oficio”. I wasn’t sure what this meant since the status of my application still said “sin resolución” but I was hoping it meant that my change of status from dependent to wage-earner had been added to my file.

Kiosk in front of the U.S. consulate in San Miguel de Allende.

Kiosk in front of the U.S. consulate in San Miguel de Allende.

Wednesday morning, we headed to SMA yet again. We arrived just after 9 a.m. and found the kiosk still closed. Well, we are in México after all and starting time is relative. So we sat down on the bench to wait. The consulate was open. The hard-working secretary behind her glass wall was working diligently. Around 9:15, the kiosk owner arrived and began setting up. I told him what I needed and he nodded. When he was ready, I stood in front of a white wall and he took my picture. He showed it to me for my approval. God, I looked old! Well, my eyes were opened and the background definitely was white, so I guess that would be good enough.

McDonald's at the strip mall in San Miguel de Allende

McDonald’s at the strip mall in San Miguel de Allende

In less than 5 minutes, my photo was ready, however, the guy didn’t have change for a $200 peso bill. The only other place open in the strip mall, even though every single store front had a clock that said they would open at 9 a.m., was McDonald’s. I sent my husband for a coffee so he could get change and headed into the consulate with my photo. I didn’t have to wait any time at all. I handed the secretary my photo and the letter the flunky from the embassy had sent me via email. She stapled the two together and that was that. I was outside before my husband had come back with the change and coffee.

SEGOB office in San Miguel de Allende

SEGOB office in San Miguel de Allende

We then headed to SEGOB. The wait was longer, about 30 minutes, but we passed the time docilely watching dachshund racing on Animal Planet and listening to the drone of this nearly hysterical 50-ish hippie woman who had misplaced her permanent residency card, had it canceled to receive her temporary residency card, then found the card and was begging to to have it reinstated and the 70-ish gentleman who wasn’t sure he wanted to proceed with the permanent residency card because he owned an American vehicle. Soon enough, it was my turn.

The clerk at the entregar documentos window asked what I needed, although he could have gotten that information by looking at the paper I presented. I explained that I was hoping the email where it stated “Se emitió ficio” meant I could get my residency card back. He said he would check in the computer, which he did. Then he went to the filing cabinet and pulled out my file. He had me sign that I have received the oficio and my residency card and I was finished.

This letter had a paragraph of immigration law references, then said that my status had changed from dependent of my husband to being gainfully employed at JJR. My address was wrong and my husband’s name was in lower case, but I suppose it was official enough.

When we arrived back in Moroleón, I took gave a copy of the letter to my boss and asked about the progress of my application through SEP that had begun nearly a year ago. She looked embarrassed and told me that the woman who received the copies of my documentation at the SEP office in Guanajuato had “lost” them. So when the lawyer representing the school had gone last week to check on my status, it was if I had never applied. My original documents that took me so much effort to have apostilled and translated (See Getting Legal-The Paper Chase and Getting Legal–Perito Traductor) were still in the custody of the lawyer and the process of SEP approval will be begun again.

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Getting Legal–Renewing our U.S. passports–Trip 2

U.S.-passport

A few weeks later, I received a call from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. The Spanish speaking flunky on the other end of the call informed me that my photograph was unacceptable. Apparently, he judged the background too gray. I suppose my ink was running low when I printed that picture. So he told me I should take a new picture meeting the acceptable size and color guidelines to the consulate within 90 days. I told him I didn’t live near the consulate and asked if there was some other way I could deliver the picture. He told me I could deliver it directly to the U.S. embassy in Mexico City if I liked. Not that we live any closer to Mexico City.

Later that day he sent me an email that outlined the procedure for a name change on my passport. I wrote back asking for clarification of the email since we hadn’t discussed a name change on the phone. He sent another email with an apology and an attachment (all in Spanish) with the requirements for the passport photo. I printed the attachment out and asked again if there was another way I could deliver the photo, like through the mail, rather than making another trip to San Miguel. He didn’t bother to respond.

Since we were going to have to make the trip again, I gathered all my paperwork for working papers together in order to try for a two-for-one deal. I requested a letter of employment from the school secretary and the director stamped and signed it. I dug out the paper that listed the requirements for the change of status through immigration that I had gotten on a previous trip (See Working Papers). I also packed up any documentation that I thought might be requested (my residency card, my birth certificate, my canceled passport, and my marriage certificate). I also sent an email to the U.S. consulate asking if I would need any additional paperwork when I brought the new photo.

Strip mall where the passport office has been moved to.

Strip mall where the passport office has been moved to.

And we were off.  We arrived in SMA and parked in front of Office Depot. My son and I trotted to the consulate and discovered that it was closed on Fridays. The kiosk where I was planning on having my picture taken was also closed on Fridays. Well damn!

Of course, this fact was not found anywhere on the official website. (See Hours for US embassy offices in Mexico.) So as not to waste the trip, we headed over to the SEGOB office at the other end of town.

In order to avoid denial due to spelling or format errors, I trotted next door and had this office fill out my forms.

In order to avoid denial due to spelling or format errors, I trotted next door and had this office fill out my forms.

We went to the lawyer’s office next to immigration and I explained what I needed. The secretary filled out the on-line form for me and the lawyer called me into his office. I gave him the letter the school had given me. In the letter, the secretary had written that I would be the English coordinator beginning August 18. As it was only August 15, the lawyer said this would be a problem as I was only to inform immigration AFTER I started working. Since I hadn’t shown the letter to immigration, he said he would write in the letter bajo de protesta decir la verdad (swearing to tell the truth) that I had begun on August 13. He said this wouldn’t be lying since I had attended teacher meetings during the week, but that I shouldn’t present the school employment letter unless asked. He also said the letter was invalid on another point. The director had signed and stamped the letter, but I needed a copy of his IFE (voter registration card) to prove the signature was his. Well, I didn’t have that either. I asked about identification since my current passport had been canceled and the new passport was waiting on a new photo. The lawyer assured me that the only identification I would be asked for was my permanent residency card.

For the letter and on-line form, it was $210 pesos. I took these two documents, plus my permanent residency card and a copy next door. I took a number and waited less than 5 minutes. I nervously explained what transaction I was applying for and gave the clerk my documents. After he looked them over and stamped them, he told me to check back in 5 days. He printed another document with the web address where I could check on the status of my application and told me that I would receive an email as well. Much to my surprise, he kept my residency card. Back home we went, but wait there’s more!

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