Here we go….Jumping through more hoops! (and trying like hell to hang onto my Tranquilo!)


We seem to get no where with our permanent residency visa at each turn. This week I finally had all our required documents ready to mail to our attorney in Panama City. They had all been authenticated, notarized and Apostiled, and to the best of our knowledge all was in order. Schreeeech! Nope! I received an email from Mayra, our attorney, that our FBI reports are three weeks too old! They cant be older than six months and we went three weeks past that, unknowingly. We knew that the Apostile on them was too old so our attorney had told us that if we simply had them ‘re-apostilled’ all would be in order, which we did do. But no one told us about the six month requirement (big eye roll here!). This seems to be our biggest problem, not knowing the little rules like that. If you don’t know the questions to ask then you end up making mistakes. We had a big hold up when we sent all the letters of authentication and our marriage certificate and bank statements to the Panamanian Consulate in Houston to be authenticated. We were notified after waiting weeks for them to acknowledge that they had received them, that they were not able to authenticate documents that had been notarized in Panama, so they could authenticate only about two out of the six that we sent them. Uggggg! So we then learned that the U.S. State department could Apostille the remaining documents. After receiving them back from the Panamanian Consulate we put them back in the mail to Washington DC to be Apostilled by the U.S. State department. Then waited, and waited and waited. My heart leapt with joy after we finally received everything and we were finally ready to mail it all off to Mayra. Then my heart sank last night after receiving this email from her…
“I am very sorry to tell you that your FBI records are too old to be used in the application of the visa. According to the latest rule immigration issued the FBI or any police report is only good for 6 months. You FBI reports have a date of 9/3/2013. The bank statements are too old.”

?!#$!!! DEEP BREATH….where’s that good ol’ TRANQUILO? More deep breaths and a good nights sleep and here I am getting in a little blogging therapy. We spent the majority of our evening trying to strategize about ‘what now?’. Back to the beginning. By the time we get this straightened out all the other documents will also be too old so we may as well just have it all redone. Deep Sigh… So, we are due for a good ol’ border run once again. We are thinking about just doing a really fast and furious flight into Houston and visiting the Panamanian Consulate to re authenticate and notarize all our documents and also having our fingerprints done while we are there and just mail them to DC while we are in the states. This way we get our border run requirement out of the way as well as having a much easier time getting fingerprints that the FBI will accept. (I sure hope my cement injured fingertips heal quickly! ) And a personal visit to the consulate should make things go much faster. Of course we will make sure to make all the proper appointments and to ask lots of questions, hopefully the right questions , before getting on the plane.

All this right before Mariah is due to arrive!! Geeesh! And don’t forget, we have six Panamanian employees who are depending on us for their living. So we need to keep them working or we will have to pay them for working while Scott is gone even if they don’t work, It’s only fair. So, this should be interesting. We have found flights , luckily we have plenty of miles on our airline points so we wont have to spend a ton of money. Some of you may be reading this and wondering why we didn’t just get all this paperwork done in the states before our move….well, in case you haven’t read earlier posts let me explain so we don’t’ look completely idiotic, (only slightly idiotic). Well, you see, it’s all because of the requirement of having proof of a “lifetime income”. Most retired people can satisfy this requirement with a pension or social security which would show that you do indeed have a lifetime income of a minimum of 1,250.00 per couple, per month. We have chosen to make this move a bit earlier than traditional ‘retirement’ age, which means , no Social Security and we also have no pension, so our only other option for this proof of ‘lifetime income’ was to purchase an annuity which would pay us that amount for the rest of our lives. We could not afford to do this until after we sold our house in California and then after purchasing the annuity we had to wait three months to have bank statements to show proof of payments. Also, they wanted authentication from the company that the annuity is from as well as proof of the validity of that company, it got a little more complicated than we expected but we were able to acquire all the necessary documentation that our attorney told us we would need. All these documents are part of the Authentication, notarizes and Appostille issue. Not an issue really, just a process of getting all these ducks in a row within the right time period, which we seem to have so far failed to do. So let’s try it all over again, shall we?

There are other different residency visas that we could have opted to apply for but one of the big perks of this visa allows us to ship our container of belongings from California to Panama without paying any import taxes which could be fairly hefty. Of course, in my mind, by the time we pay for all this time of storage in the states and all the other costs involved in flying to and from Houston now and because Scott doesn’t have his tools we have had to purchase many things for our project that we already own, I’m questioning weather or not it’s even worth it all just to avoid paying ‘import taxes’? But Scott seems to think it is , so given the fact that he’s the one who has done the bulk of the research, we will march forward and just keep jumping through hoops until we have jumped through enough of them and see if we actually get this visa. I’m getting a bit discouraged, can you tell? It really helps that Scott is such a calm, focused and sensible person. I get frustrated while his mind is spinning on what is the most logical and realistic step to take next. And yes, he’s always that calm! I must admit, I am one person in his life who can get him a bit ruffled but he’s pretty darn good at tuning me out! Humph!

In our life we often choose to do things a little out of the box, unfortunately this time it’s proving to be a headache. Although I know plenty of other people here who have experienced just as many headaches in their process as we are being confronted with. Rules change, lawyers aren’t always especially , uh, shall I say, ‘reliable’? I know many who have had their @#$! together and still end up jumping through endless hoops only to be told that , oooops, the rules have changed. So, everyone has their story, some have lucked out and it goes smoothly , others , like us, have their ‘tranquilo’ tested! But in the end I’ve seen many many people who endured through all the BS and now carry that little cedula and Panamanian Drivers license , and no longer need to run to the border ever 3 months to re-validate their drivers license. Our day will come, I’m sure and like all those others we will really really appreciate having it all behind us. And The advise I’ll pass on to those of you applying for residency…don’t try to do something a little ‘out of the box’ when it comes to dealing with government officials and lawyers. Just go with what everyone else is doing and save yourself a little trouble, oh there will still be trouble but maybe, just maybe, not quite as much as we seem to have created for ourselves! Hah!

About hollycarter184

Life is Good! But it's time for a change, and more adventure! I'd like to share the whole experience of preparing then actually making a reality of expatriating, and moving to a new country. It's an exciting, and slightly scary move full of possibility . I'm looking forward to learning a new language and making new connections with the people who share our spirit of adventure. This blog is my way of continuing my connection with my friends and family in the States. Sooooo here it goes! :)

16 responses »

  1. Good luck in Houston! I thought FBI background check only good for three months when we did ours last year. Oh well, there goes another reasonable thought I might have had when it comes to getting all of that paperwork done! It is crazy I know, and let’s hope worth it in the end!

  2. Isn’t it amazing that your FBI background check for felonies committed in the US is no good even though you spent the entire 6 months in Panama where it is unlikely you could commit a crime in the US. Gotta love Panama’s crazy rules

  3. Oh damn, Holly! I’m so sorry you have to go through this, but I understand completely. We had to make 2 flights back to Miami before we got the hang of the rig-a-ma-roll. Why oh why don’t they just tell everyone which documents are time specific? It sure would make life a lot easier. I know this is stressful, but hang in there. I think you made a wise decision to fly back to the states and get everything done there. When we flew back to Miami the second time, we completed the process in two days. In Miami, they understand Latin Logic and it was a breeze to get our papers notarized, certified, and authenticated. Now, the whole process has changed because Nicaragua is a member of the Hague Convention, which requires apostilles. If it makes you feel any better, our police reports were not outdated, but Nicaragua wouldn’t accept them because they weren’t on pretty letterhead paper with a pretty gold seal. Sigh!
    One thing I would recommend: Have your lawyer write a letter to your airlines saying that you needed to return to the states to gather your documents for residency. When I returned to Nicaragua on a round trip ticket, Delta Airlines in Atlanta wouldn’t let me board until I showed them my cedula. I’m not sure if all airlines are as strict as Delta, but just to be on the safe side have a letter ready. The airlines are getting stricter about overextending your 90 day visa in another country. When I checked in online to return to Nicaragua, the website wouldn’t let me check in online until I completed a new section. There were 2 boxes: resident or tourist. I had to check resident. Then, the next sentence said, “When is your expected date of return?” I made up a date and only then could I complete the check in on line. The first thing the agent asked me, when I got to the airport, was, “Do you have residency? I need to see your card or you cannot board. ”
    Good luck with everything. Enjoy your mini-adventure. I think this time will be the charm.

  4. Good Luck this time. I guess that I’m getting old because the requirements seem daunting to jump thru the various hoops then hope that your attorney is following up and then the Bureaucracy rig a ma ro

  5. I should have added, if you are in for the long haul then personal items from the USA will be invaluable to your stay and piece of mind. I’ve read that tools, furniture, electronics, pots n pans, kitchen gear, even bath towels are not the same as those that we take for granted in the States. We are older so I can foresee that we would not stay (intentionally) past the time that our health was failing and I’d much rather my final remains be somewhere in the USA. No Panamanian nursing home for me.

  6. Holly – I sent you an email about how to reduce the time to do the FBI report and State Dept Apostile to about 2 weeks, please let me know if you got it.

  7. So sorry to hear that you are delayed yet again Holly. Don’t “coulda, woulda, shoulda” yourself to death. If you approach this with your “tranquilo” intact once again then you’re on a roll. Remember, third time is the charm. 🙂 And besides, take a little time while you’re in Houston for some recreational shopping…mind you the prices will probably be alarming!

  8. Aww, we feel your pain. Sounds like the trip to Houston is a good plan. Just hang in there and someday all the hoops will be jumped!

  9. “Dale Holly” – Panamanian say “Dale” from “dar” it literally means “give it” but as slang it means “do it” as in encouraging someone to do something. Saludos y buena suerte!

  10. We had to go through the same thing with proving lifetime income and having three months of withdrawals to show as proof. What we did was we took out three months of withdrawals all at once and had these authenticated. Our Panamanian lawyer said this would be ok. He received our documents this week and we haven’t heard anything back yet. We are keeping our fingers crossed that this will be OK! We, as Canadians did not need to get fingerprinted …. Only police criminal check records are required …. Not sure why?? I feel for you guys … It is quite the process and very nerve racking.

  11. Remember, you can live here for years by doing the border runs, so there is no time limit. Keep moving forward and it will get done when it’s done. (Written from Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica. Yep, border run time)

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