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.
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.
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!