Before you get your actual FM-3 or FM-2 visa with work privileges, you have to apply for authorization to work. These are the steps I took to get my authorization. I have written the steps for getting the actual visa document in another entry.
-A: I needed to round up some documents. Migración provides you a list– it includes stuff like passport, utility bill, a letter stating your purpose. Go to the office and tell them what you want to do and they will print off the list for you.
As a freelance English teacher, I told them I wanted to work “en manera independiente.” Although independent work is not mentioned on their website, Migración will accept this as your plan. It saves you the trouble of having to get your employer to sponsor you. Their technical classification of me as an English teacher is “Científico/Técnico.”
-B: The list will also tell you you have to pay the 491-peso application fee. Before I left the DF Migración office, I had to stop by a window and have them print up a clave, a payment key. I brought the key to a bank near my house and paid the money, and they printed me a receipt. I had to check it to make sure the details were correct, including the spelling of my name, and sign.
-C: I brought my proof of payment and all the other documents from the list back in to the office and met with an agent who went through them with me. I had actually made a mistake with my personal letter of intent, because I combined it into one letter with the content of the “employer” (me) letter of intent. The agent was about to help me write the letters anew, sitting right there at his desk, but then he decided the mistake wasn’t going to hinder the process and went ahead and accepted the single letter. They almost didn’t accept my TEFL certificate because they thought it was in English. Actually all the labels were in Spanish, and I pointed that out to them nicely. They laughed and accepted it. They told me to check back in 2 weeks for my approval letter and if it wasn’t ready then come back on the 3rd week.
-D: I checked back in 2 weeks– you have to go to a computer and enter the reference number they give you. It wasn’t ready. On the 3rd week it was. I wrote down the approval number the computer gave me and brought it to the central info desk, and they referred me to the appropriate window.
-E: At the window they gave me a letter stating my approval and conditions. At this point was the first miscommunication– I thought the approval letter was the actual permit, that I was done (ha). “¿Es todo?” “Sí, ya. Buen día, Srta.” But obviously that would have been too good to be true, so I had my roommate read the fine print. Spanish legalese sucks just as much as English legalese btw. Sure enough, I was approved for an FM-3. But now I needed to do some more things to actually obtain my FM-3, which is a little green passport-sized book.
See part 2 for how I actually got the visa document. See my overview for the list of steps to become a fully legal, taxpaying member of Mexican society.