Dec 3, 2007
Well, we had done a bunch of reading about what you need to take with you to the Mexican consulate nearest you to get your FM3. I have probably 6 or 7 books on the process of moving to Mexico, so we came armed with our passports, drivers licenses, 6 months worth of bank statements and a marriage license (just in case). One of the things that they tell you in all the books is that you never know what you're going to get when you go into the consulate- some are stricter than others and you HAVE to go to the one closest to you, you can't shop around.
For us, the closest one is in New York City. So we got up early this morning and headed in, thinking that it wouldn't be too crowded. As we rounded the corner of 39th street I saw the Mexican flag waving in front of this building about half way down the block. There were approximately 100 to 150 people all congregated around the gate in front of the consulate. We started to think that this might take a little more time than we had anticipated.
We had no idea what everyone was doing in front of the consulate at there didn't seem to be a line or any clear order. There was one official-looking guy who was manning the gate and letting people in or out randomly. We saw him let a bunch of people in for visas just as we approached the gate, so we figured we'd force our way up to the front and see if he would let us in, too. As we got there, he changed his strategy and started calling for only people who had appointment numbers to come forward. Hubby was right at the gate- like literally blocking the way for people to get in- and he doesn't speak enough Spanish to know what was going on. So I told him to step aside and let the people in who had the little papers with appointment numbers on them.
After about 5 or so minutes the guy looked at us and asked if we just needed visas. We said yes, and he told us to come in and gave us a number. A few minutes later he told us to go inside to the third floor.
The place was CRAZY inside! There were so many people in so many lines it reminded me of the NJ DMV a few years ago, before they fixed it. Anyway, we get upstairs and wait in a little waiting room for a couple minutes. Not too long after we sat down a woman came out and got us.
We sat across from her in her desk and she sort of gave us a blank stare... "Uh. Ok. Um. We'd like to get an FM3 visa for 1 year." Turns out that at this particular consulate you HAVE to be retired and you HAVE to have $1500 coming in from Social Security. It doesn't matter if you're a millionaire, you have to have money coming in from Social Security or you're not getting an FM3.
Alright, on to plan B. We're going to cross at the border and try to get Tourist Visas for 6 months. We'll be back in the US in a few months any way because some very close friends have a baby due in February and we'll be coming back to meet her in person, so it's not like we won't be able to extend the tourist visa by getting a new one every time we come back in.
All in all, I was pretty surprised how efficient the consulate was. I even got to flex my Spanish muscles a little since we basically did the whole transaction in Spanish after our agent was struggling to explain the situation in English.
I've read of people getting tourist visas and getting them converted to FM3s once they're in Mexico, we'll see what happens. It might not even be necessary.