Permanent Resident of Mexico: Green Card Equivalent

Today, after my third trip to Migracion in as many weeks, I picked up my official Residente Permanente card granted by the federal government of Mexico. I was surprised at myself: I couldn’t stop smiling.  I’m thrilled, in fact, to now be an official part of this country I call home most of the year.

That’s not to say that the USA is not my home. I am a citizen, I vote, I take part in my community, I own property that I return to often, my family is there and I have a deep friendship network. I know my final resting place — in Santa Cruz, California, in a redwood grove, next to our mother, the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

There is much to appreciate in these two worlds — Estados Unidos Mexicanos and the United States of America. Neither is perfect. At the moment, I am happy to have focus here away from the turmoil of nationhood that has gone awry in my home country. As a friend recently said, we live in an imperfect world.

There is solace living in a small Zapotec village thirty minutes from a smallish town that is rich in cultural heritage and indigenous traditions.

I made this decision to apply for a permanent residence in September after I was invited to contribute a chapter to a book featuring the voices of women in the United States who have chosen to live in Mexico. I wrote almost 4,000 words about how I first came here, what kept me coming back, and the difference that living in Mexico has made in my life.

As an exercise in self-reflection, I realized how meaningful life here is for me, my relationships with people who come from an 8,000 year old heritage, and how my creativity is energized by the experience.

When I got to North Carolina in October, the first thing I did was contact the Mexican Consulate in Raleigh to make my application and arrange a personal interview. I was welcomed and treated with respect. I know that Mexicans do not have a similar experience when they appear for their appointments at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to apply for a simple tourist visa.

The paperwork required is extensive: one year of printed bank records documenting income to meet a threshold to qualify for this type of visa. I did not tell them anything about me in advance and I did not bring a resume. They must have found this blog and while at the interview invited me to meet with the cultural attache to talk about ways we could work together to educate Carolinians about the artistic and cultural richness of Mexico and her people.  I received the preliminary approval with a stamp in my Passport within two hours.

That was just the beginning. Then, in Oaxaca, on recommendation from friends, I hired German Osorio, a very helpful English-speaking attorney who facilitated another application, payment of a fee, and the series of meetings with officials to complete the process that took several weeks. This included surrendering my Passport for several days, surrendering my Tourist Visa permanently. Without the Tourist Visa, I could not leave the country until the Permanent Resident Visa process was complete.

Not much will change for me with this Permanent Resident Visa, except that the official approval solidifies my commitment to people and place.



30 responses to “Permanent Resident of Mexico: Green Card Equivalent

  1. Good for you Norma. I love reading about your experience, especially with the Mexican government.
    In this time of turmoil in our country I’m sure your decision to gain a permanent residency visa in your beloved Mexico must give you peace . I’m envious

  2. Congratulations, Norma! So well deserved! Mexico is lucky to have you!

  3. Way to go Norma!

  4. Congratulations, Norma…and thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings!

  5. Congratulations, Norma! Great that you have formalized your residency status. Amazing how relatively quick and efficient the process has been. How disheartening that the reverse is not true for those seeking residency in the USA. I’m looking forward to seeing you in January.

    • Good morning, Berle. Yes, it’s definitely a FEEL GOOD for me, and always cognizant of how the USA treats immigrants who want residency — so different from my experience. A sad commentary. I’m looking forward to seeing you in January, too. All my best.

  6. Gretchen Corpe Ellinger

    Welcome, Norma, to permanent resident status in Mexico! You probably know that your permanent residence status affords you nearly all the privileges enjoyed by Mexican citizens, save voting, including the ability to apply for highly affordable health insurance called IMSS,
    My personal favorite is the INAPAM card, a sort of senior citizens card issued by the federal government that entitles you to discounts on travel, and free museum entry, among others, if your age qualifies you! Even with no benefits save avoiding applications for temporary visas, I LOVE the feeling of “being legal” in my adopted home! I am not surprised at your being recognized as an ambassador for you part of Mexico and an advocate for local artisans and their incredible products – who kkows how many lives you have improved? Congratulations on your “permanent resident in Mexico” status!

    • Welcome back to Puerto Peñasco, Gretchen. So good to have you here in Oaxaca and in Teotitlan del Valle earlier this week. I didn’t know about the health care privileges. I’ll need to figure our how to the the INAPAM card. Yes, and ultimately, its the feeling of “being legal” as you say, that is so satisfying. Thank you for your kindest comments. I’ll see you in January on the Coast Tour. Besos.

  7. Thank you for sharing your journey between cultures and your appreciation of each. Have a blessed holiday my friend.

  8. Thank you for sharing this experience of finding and identifying your place/home where life is simple and rich in history and friendship.

    I admire your clarity of choice and direction.

    • Thank you, Brenda. Life gives us opportunities if we pay attention to them. And, circumstances change. For now, this is the best choice for me — a bimodal life between Oaxaca and Durham, NC — two places where I belong. Who knows what will happen next!

  9. Oh! Fantastic news! Congratulations Norma. This all gives me pause for thought, and something to consider now that I am finally a homeowner in San Miguel de Allende…

  10. Congratulations Norma!

  11. ¡Qué buena onda – Felicidades! I’m still only in the fantasy stage of living – part-time at least – in Oaxaca. Your journey and writing makes me smile, too.

  12. Congrats on your happiness with your decision!

  13. What a lovely conclusion to your experience of the past few years (that I have been reading your blog) How will this affect your life when you are in Mexico?
    As in, what privileges/rights does this confer upon you when you are in Mexico as opposed to just being considered a tourist?
    I remember when I was in Oaxaca, I so wanted to clean up some grafitti on a wall I passed daily. I did not think the Mexicans bureacracy would have appreciated me doing that on my own, but didn’t know who to contact for permission.

    • I think the biggest differences are more psychological and emotional than anything else. Except there is no restriction on my coming and going (a tourist visa is usually good for 60-180 days), I can own property, have a bank account, and qualify for resident discounts on tickets, etc. Most of the grafitti here is political and considered an art form. The ugly grafitti is painted over by the landowner when they have the money or get around to it. Rules are that foreigners cannot be involved in politics or any civil disobedience actions, whatever our visa status.

  14. So happy for you! I remember how thrilled we were after our approval at the Consulate in Raleigh. I imagine we’ll feel the same as you when we pick up our cards in Chapala Mexico in the next few weeks. And though mine is a temporary visa, it is only a step away from applyyfor Permanente.
    Congratulations! You certainly deserve it. Mexico AND the United States are lucky to have you!

    • Hi, Chris, yes, the feeling of belonging is a strong one, and I certainly feel that I belong here in Mexico as much as I belong in the USA (perhaps more, now, with 45 and cronies dictating the government). Estoy muy contenta!

  15. This is very exciting. What seems like relatively small thing is, in fact, an important marker of how you have chosen to direct your life. Best wishes!

    • Hi, Jill. Thank you. I was content for years going in and out, back and forth, on the visitor visa, since I was leaving the country every few months anyway. But, somehow, the trigger of writing fleshed out my real feelings about being here and I figured it was about time to declare my loyalty!

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