An increasing problem we come across these days has to do with the workload being put on Immigration, and reluctance of the Federal Government due to budget cutbacks to add any staff to alleviate this workload.
How does this affect you? Well quite simply, it can take Immigration anywhere from 3 to 7 weeks to complete a simple renewal. A new FM3 can take as long as 10 weeks. We all assume that this is an easy procedure for Immigration to complete, but with the workload these people have on them, as well as all the hands these documents must pass through, we are fortunate that they get done at all. Last year Guadalajara was the second busiest Immigration office in the whole republic, and getting busier every day.
For most of you, this is not a problem and we write it off to the regular issues of living in this wonderful country. However, for some, it does create a problem. Some of you are only here for a limited time, and cannot wait for the allotted time Immigration requires, and for some the renewal date just simply falls on the time you are not in Mexico. If you in fact have to leave the country, and your migratory document is at Immigration, you will require a Permit to Leave. To obtain this permit, you will require your passport, itinerary, and a proof of residency. The only drawback with this permit is that it can only be for a maximum of 45 days.
If you are only traveling around Mexico, this is not an issue whatsoever. All you need to carry with you is a copy of the application stamped by Immigration, which will be supplied by Immigration or the individuals helping you with your migratory needs.
When leaving Mexico, the paperwork required always depends on your migratory status here. For FMT (Tourist Visa) holders, you simply give back the FMT to the airlines, or the Immigration officials at the border if driving. Make sure to hand in your vehicle permit at this time as well.
When traveling on an FM3, you will have to fill out an FME – Foreigner (Statistic Migratory Form) when traveling by air. This form is not asked for when driving. However, by law you must turn in your vehicle permit. Most people do not, and the customs officials do not seem to enforce it. But remember, if your vehicle is stolen or written off in an accident while you are in the US or Canada, and that permit has not been handed in, you will be responsible for the taxes on that vehicle if you try to import another as Customs will not have proof you drove said vehicle out of Mexico.
When traveling on an FM2, the same rules apply as the FM3, but you must have it stamped by Immigration when you exit and then return. Over a 5-year period, you can only be out of Mexico for 18 months total.
Also remember, if your vehicle permit has expired, it is still valid as long as you have your valid FM2 or 3 with you. This is documented in Mexican Customs Law, Article 106.
When traveling as an Inmigrado, you must fill out an FME – Para Mexicanos, just like a Mexican national. And just like a Mexican national, by law you are only allowed out of Mexico for 6 months less a day a year. The car permit is not an issue, as persons with Inmigrado status are not allowed to have a foreign plated vehicle. They are allowed to bring Mexican plated vehicles into the States as long as they have insurance.