Saturday, October 6, 2012

It's Official

We are now residents of Guatemala... well except for Eden, she is a Guatemalan. It only took 6 years! When we first arrived in Guatemala several missionaries recommended a lawyer to us to help us get our residency visas. Only thing is we live far away from Guatemala City. I guess it was an out of sight out of mind thing, because she never would finish. Jimmy contacted her repeatedly, but we finally realize she wasn't ever going to get around to us. Then we heard of another lawyer who is a Christian. 
{Back in April at the beginning of this process}
She is sharp too. From us getting all the correct paperwork together to us being in the system, it took about 6 months. We are so thankful. We haven't gotten the final papers yet, but when we flew out this last time our names showed up in the computer at Immigration as residents!!!!

Unfortunately there was a typo made when immigration put Jimmy's information into the system, so we had to return AGAIN to Guatemala City this past week to sign the last bit of papers.
{Leaving the hotel that morning}
Even with an appointment we waited for 3 hours. 3 hours with 3 kids under 3 is always entertaining... for everyone! 
They were pretty good playing with the educational apps on our phones (I know... lazy parenting, but they ARE "educational"). I also brought them a new letter tracing game as a surprise which ending up being a hit, except we all looked like we had gotten in a fight with a dry erase marker by the time we left.
Eden was extra cute that morning! I only have this blurry photo to prove it. One of the ladies asked to hold her and then took her off into the back offices to show her off. She was gone for a long time! That's kind of normal here. Then with lots of people waiting in line behind us the man doing our paperwork sat and played with his phone for several minutes. We weren't sure what he was doing and then we realized he was trying to figure out how to take a picture of E with his phone! Baby gringas must not be that common around here. Especially ones with blue eyes and double dimples! My kids get so much love and attention here. I wish all children were as lucky.
Jonah and Silas thought it was the coolest thing ever to get to put their thumbprint on our forms.
{3 inked thumbs}
We are so thankful to have this done. There are still a couple of steps in Petén before we have the paperwork in hand, but no more trips to Guatemala City! All of this work means we no longer have to leave the country every 3 months. As a tourist, 6 months after entering you have to either go to the capital or a border (Belize or Mexico, El Salvador is part of the CA thingy so it doesn't count) and pay to get a 3 month extension. When those 3 months are up you are required to be out of the country for 3 days. Border officials don't always make you stay out for 3 days, but it IS a big deal if you do not really leave or get an extension. We have been fined before because our visas expired on days we had teams here or for some other reason just couldn't make it in time to a border. Doing this for 6 years is very time consuming. Belize and Mexico are nice to visit, but not when you are forced to go on a regular basis!

Besides being able to stay here permanently, once you have your resident visa you can obtain your DPI, or your Guatemalan ID card. This is all you need to open bank accounts, get cell phone contracts, etc. Trying to do all of that with a passport is difficult. The DPI is also required to obtain your Guatemalan driver's license, and you can visit any Central American country as if you are a national and you don't have to have your passport scanned or stamped.

Crazy Item of the Day:
When we were heading back to the States a few weeks ago, we found out that at the airport they are now scanning your passport and stamping it with an exit stamp as you leave Guatemala. They didn't used to do this. It's not a problem, except that all of our passports showed up as being residents (thus excusing us from being in the country past our 90 days) except for Jimmy's because of the typo. They told us that Jimmy couldn't leave with the rest of us, and instead were going to send him to the Immigration office to pay a huge fine. The guy swiped it again and it still showed Jimmy as just a tourist and not a resident. To make matters worse, the official then realized that the latest stamp in his passport was an exit stamp with no entrance stamp. (I had to specifically ask them to put an entrance stamp on my passport the last time I flew into the capital because they think someone will do that in Petén but they don't.) Therefore, the guy said, Jimmy must have entered the country illegally. Illegal US immigrants must be a big problem there dealing with in Guatemala now! Then they threaten jail. After about 15 minutes of discussion and threats, the immigration official decided to scan it a third time and "Permanent Resident" magically appeared on the screen. But he tried a fourth time and it was gone again. One more try showed Permanent Resident, so the official stamped the passport without another word except, "Have a nice trip."


  1. Felicidades on becoming residents!

    Oh the joys of immigration and airport mix-ups. I am glad Jimmy's passport finally worked!

  2. Congratulations you guys... It is an amazingly cumbersome process!


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