Dear Tripped Up,
I’m an American citizen who arrived in Mexico in January on a Forma Migratoria Múltiple, the nation’s customary 180-day customer’s allow. My daughter lives there as a short lived resident, so I’d like to keep — and, in addition to, I actually don’t need to fly again to the States throughout a worldwide pandemic. Are you conscious of any concessions or extensions for vacationers who, for causes relating to Covid-19, hunkered down overseas and now understand they’ve overstayed their welcome? Cisco
The coronavirus and its torrent of journey restrictions have affected Americans overseas in quite a few methods — early on, when flights had been suspended with the flick of a change, many vacationers reported getting caught whereas others scrambled to get seats on repatriation flights.
Visas and permits, broadly talking, permit nonresidents to legally go to or stay overseas. The varieties of visas and permits, and the laws that again them up, are huge and various. For instance, one can apply for a vacationer visa, a medical visa, a pupil visa, a partner visa — the listing goes on. In common, foreigners should go away the nation earlier than their visa expires, or else they danger being fined, deported or subjected to different immigration enforcement measures.
The vital factor to keep in mind is that visa insurance policies are managed by particular person host international locations, not the United States. There has been no blanket coverage about how to deal with visa extensions globally, even with the pandemic.
Confronting the realities of the coronavirus, sure international locations have softened their guidelines and proven extra flexibility than regular. This spring, the European Commission launched tips encouraging its member states to be lenient with visa extensions throughout the pandemic. Laos has also been granting one-month visa extensions to American citizens, as has the Philippines, which waived penalties and fines for foreigners who applied for the extension within a certain window of time.
Beyond the State Department’s list of United States Embassies abroad, there is no centralized resource for the country-by-country visa-extension policies during the pandemic, and things continue to shift as travel restrictions change. For example, nonresident foreigners who were unable to depart Morocco within the normal 90-day visa limit were able to leave without a fine through mid August. (An extension of that window has not yet been announced.)
The most flexible visa-extension policies have tended to crop up in countries where travel restrictions have made it difficult or impossible for foreign nationals to return home. That’s not the case for Mexico, where there are continued commercial flights (on several major carriers) to the United States. Additionally, the current restrictions that limit nonessential travel over land across the United States-Mexico border explicitly do not apply to any American citizens returning home.
When I reached out to the State Department about your case, a spokeswoman told me that any Americans stuck abroad who have outstayed their visa must contact local immigration authorities; in your case, the National Institution of Migration, in Mexico City.
When I called I.N.M., a representative told me to contact the Consulate General of Mexico in New York. A representative at the consulate gave me a bit of brighter news: There are certain cases in which a visitor’s permit can be exchanged for a temporary resident visa, which would allow you to stay in Mexico for up to four years. One such case is “family unity,” including when “the applicant has a foreign child who holds a temporary resident or temporary student resident visa.” The agency reviews each application case by case, and the next steps are pretty standard: You’ll need to fill out a mountain of paperwork, gather supporting documents and apply in person (likely with your daughter by your side) at your regional I.N.M. office.
The irony is that countries across the globe are now loosening their visa programs even further in an effort to kick-start tourism. Egypt is making it possible to visit certain parts of the country without a tourist visa. Barbados recently announced the Barbados Welcome Stamp, a yearlong visa for anyone who wants to work remotely from a Caribbean island — and that’s one version of “getting stuck” that I might welcome.
Sarah Firshein is a Brooklyn-based writer. If you need advice about a best-laid travel plan that went awry, send an email to email@example.com.
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