Summary (I’ll try to summarize!) of our experience getting our residency visa….
I received a request from one of my readers to post a summary of our experience getting our Pensionado Visa. Obviously this process varies “a lot” for every person. There are, of course, endless different accounts of how this process goes, some good and some not so good, some easy and smooth (although not many!) and some complicated and frustrating as hell (Some serious Tranquilo killers!) . In the end, so much seems to depend upon the attorney you use because they set the pace, and will guide you, or let you flounder, during the entire process. I’ve heard nightmare stories of attorneys giving bad advice or just not doing their jobs. Some who have been through the process read my account and wonder why it was a bit more complicated than it was for them. One things for sure, anything I tell you about my experience will not be the same for you. It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t count on any other persons tale to be what you will experience. Unlike some places in the world where there are clear and concise processes in place and you have access to all the answers to all your questions, here, one seems to just muddle through as best you can and just try to hold onto some semblance of ’Tranquilo’…Good luck with that! Hah! Read the rest of this entry
Scotiabank only needs one last thing from us in order to open our bank account and oh my goodness, I think I may have hit a little snag…They want a letter from our immigration attorney simply confirming that we have retained her services for the Pensionado application. (sounds simple..right? Well…..) I spoke with her assistant this morning, he told me that she will not do that until we have our actual Cedula (Panamanian ID) . I explained, we are not asking them to tell the bank that we have our Cedula, just that we have retained the services of an attorney to facilitate our application… He told me (sounding somewhat annoyed, I may add) that I could talk to Mayra and see what she says…Grrrrrr! It’s rather Frustrating that this one little thing could put the cabash on our ability to establish a bank account until our visa is in hand. Ug! We’ll see where this goes… Read the rest of this entry
No, not 4 wheelin’…I wish I were spinning my wheels up there instead of traipsing around feeling like I can’t seem to accomplish anything I need to accomplish. I need to do something very simple but can’t seem to get it done. I simply need to purchase a money order or get a bank check payable to the Consulate of Panama. We need to send payment for the authentication along with our documents to the Washington DC Panamanian Consulate. I’ve been to ten different places to attempt to purchase a money order…”Necesito comprar un giro postal”. Blank looks..No can do! Even the Western Union here in town doesn’t seem to issue money orders. I thought that’s what Western Union does? (Tranquilo…deep breath…) Now, of course I can understand the banks unwillingness to help (kinda) because I have yet to have opened an account here. We are in the process of collecting all the necessary documents they require in order to open an account but the visa stuff has been the priority so far. My last resort has been to contact a friend and ask if she would be willing to meet me at her bank to purchase a money order or get a bank check. I hate to inconvenience people, but the only other option, according to the person I spoke with this morning at the Panamanian Consulate in DC is to go to the Maritime Authority in Panama City to pay. Well, That seems kinda inconvenient , that would be very costly for us to make another trip …..Grrrrrrr.
Sorry, this post is kinda whiny but that seems to be the tone of this day so far, but hey, it’s only noon so it could look up! The other stupidly frustrating thing that happened today is totally my fault..I bought a stapler the other day, so we can staple the different piles of documents together before mailing them. I bought the wrong size staples!!! Humph! So I went to Mandarin today and bought two more boxes of different size staples and….you guessed it…they also don’t fit my new stapler!! What a dummy!! So, I think I’ll just bring the darn stapler with me next time! Uggg!! Honestly, I feel like crawling back under the covers!! Nawww not really! Maybe I should go lay in the sun with the dog who looks so peaceful and cozy!
(Several hours later and all’s well!)
I told you things could quite possibly begin to look up…and I was right! My friend Sela was kind enough to meet me at her bank and arrange to get a bank check Payable to the Consulate of Panama for the amount of the Authentication (which is $30.00 per page! 8 pages!). Whew! Sigh of relief! And Scott found the right size staples to top off my day ( how easily my day is topped off!) ! We organized all the documents, put them all in a big envelope with a pre-paid, self addressed return envelope and I marched them off to Mail Boxes Etc. to be DHLed to DC. Done! And Done! Now we wait until they are returned to us and then add our FBI report to it to send it all off to PC to our attorney, and the application process will officially be in process!! Which means we can then head back to CA to prepare our container for shipping. My next big task is to get a bank account here! This would have been much easier had I had an established relationship with a bank. And now that we have employees working for us it’s of the utmost importance to get the ball rollin’.
The day just kept getting better because as you may recall Monday is the day I go to my friend Aris’s house to practice Spanish. I had the brilliant idea to walk over to the Feria with her. She also thought that was a Bueno Idea! So I met her at her house and we walked over there. Her house is just practically right next door to the fair grounds so it’s a short walk. I’m glad we went early in the day, around 3:00, because it get’s pretty crazy in the evenings. As a matter of fact I’ve been told that the music goes well past 2:00 in the morning, more like 3 or 3:30. I took a few photos of the enormous stages they have built and they turn into raging Disco’s after dark! I must admit, even though I hate crowds I’m a bit curious and may have to check it out with Aris one night this week, we shall see how brave I’m feeling…. But the Feria is also an amazing place to shop for all sorts of crafts and hand made artisan things. I saw beautiful hammocks and leather purses an jackets and boots and lot’s of woven baskets and plants for sale and hand painted things. I bought a little purse and a key holder to hang on the wall of our house someday. I really enjoyed walking around with Aris. We got an ice cream and found a nice picnic bench near the river and chatted for awhile. Amazing how a yucky day can turn out so not yucky by the end of the day. As a matter of fact…Darn right wonderful! Smiling!
Boy Oh Boy is this process of gathering all the proper documents for our residence visa a pain in the !@#. We’ve had to wait for three months to begin the process because we needed to provide three months bank statements to prove our lifetime income from the annuity we’re using to satisfy the “lifetime income” requirement. What we didn’t do that we should have done (listen up those of you who are planning to apply for this visa)…we should have gone ahead and began the collecting and Authenticating, getting documents Apostilled, notarized and blah,blah, blah long ago. Now we find ourselves in the unfortunate situation where we’re scurrying to figure out how to do all this before our FBI background check expires in a couple weeks! Yikes! I rrrrrreally don’t want to have to go through the whole crazy fingerprinting thing in Panama City all over again!!
I think one of the more frustrating aspects of this process has been getting consistent answers about what needs to be notarized, what needs to be Authenticated and where and who can do this. Oh, and I am pretty sure all these documents will also need to be translated into Spanish as well. I’ve been on the phone all morning to both the Miami and the Houston Panama consulates trying to ascertain the best way to go about getting all this done. It looks like Scott may be taking a quick trip to Houston tomorrow (sat). And the question still remains, will his FBI report become void when he leaves Panama? Again, very different answers on that one too! We finally have all the papers that we need, with the exception of one thing that we had mailed to Scott’s mom in California, and we will have to have her overnight it to whatever hotel Scott ends up staying at. I’ve met some really lucky and smart folks who have gotten all this done well before their move here and boy do I envy them. We didn’t have the luxury of that option because of the proof of income part. We couldn’t invest in our annuity until the sale of our house and then the requirement of 3 months bank statements showing the income and also a notarized letter of authentication from the institution that holds the annuity took some time as well. We’ve been dealing with a lot of back and forth with many different people trying to slowly and for the most part patiently wait for each piece of this puzzle. Now that we finally seem to actually have all the documents required to start the application process, all that’s left to do is get those stamps of Authentication and notary. Then we can hand them all to our attorney in Panama City and see what’s next. The only part I’m a bit nervous about is the FBI reports. I just hope the information we received from our attorney, (which seems to be totally different from several other people who have gone through this) about the fact that we already left Panama once after having had the background check done. Everyone else has gotten the very specific instructions to not leave the country after the background check or it becomes void. But we had to do our border run in order to have a valid drivers license.
So, we shall see where we are with this after Scott gets all the Authentication done in Houston at the Panamanian Consulate. It will be so nice when this part of our adventure is done. Having our Pensionado will make it so much nicer to live here. For those of you who aren’t regular readers of my blog, in order for our California drivers license to remain valid we are required to leave the country for 24 hours every 90 days. Humph! It’s quite a PIA! We are really hoping not to need to do it again. So cross your fingers that we have gathered all the correct documentation and it’s all properly notarized , authenticated and appostilled . Scott will be heading out tonight (sat) to take the overnight bus to Panama City(7 hours) in order to catch an early flight to Houston on Sunday . Then he’ll be at the Panama Consulate first thing Monday morning and if all goes well he flies back to Panama Tuesday evening,and then catches another bus back to David . Whew! I’ll let you know how it goes….