Tom O’Malley: Letter from An American Working in Mexico-Truth! & Outdated!

Summary of eRumor:

A Letter from an American Working in Mexico that was written by a director with S.W. Bell in Mexico City named Tom O’Malley details Mexico’s complex immigration system and documentation requirements.

The Truth:

Tom O’Malley’s “Letter from an American Working in Mexico” has been in circulation since at least July 2010, and Mexico has made major changes to its immigration system and documentation requirements for those applying for Mexican citizenships since then.

The Letter from an American Working in Mexico details the attempts of Tom O’Malley, a man identified as a director at “S.W. Bell” in Mexico City, to obtain a permanent work visa called an “FM3.” And, although the post has been in circulation since at least 2010, the letter’s reference to “S.W. Bell,” otherwise known as Southwestern Bell, implies that the letter could actually date back to the early 1990s.

Southwestern Bell Corporation and France Telecom assumed an ownership stake of Mexico’s national telephone company in 1990. In 1995, Southwestern Bell changed its name to SBC Communications, Inc. Given that timeline, the letter’s reference to “S.W. Bell” appears to indicate that it was written between 1990 and 1995. Either way, we couldn’t track down the original author of the Letter from an American Working in Mexico, or pinpoint exactly when it was first published. 

Still,  the Letter from an American Working Mexico’s claims about Mexico’s immigration system appear to be a mixture of truthful and outdated claims. The first challenge is that letter refers to a “permanent work visa called an FM-3” that no longer exists. In 2012, Mexico issued new immigration regulations. These regulations created three different types of visas: visitor (formerly called FMM), temporary resident (formerly called FM-3 or FM-2), and permanent resident (formally called Immigrado). 

So, the closest type of visa to the “FM-3 visa” described in the Letter from the American Working in Mexico would appear to be the temporary resident visa. And securing a temporary resident visa can be a complex process that requires lots of documentation and financial disclosures. In the end, many of the general documentation requirements for a temporary resident visa appear to align with the requirements of the former FM-3 visa described in the Letter from an American Working in Mexico, according to an official Mexico immigration site:

• Passport or identity document and current travel.

• A photograph.

• Be a national of the country or prove legal stay in the country in which the visa application is filed.

• Payment of rights for the issuance of visas

• Submit the documents proving any of the following assumptions:

• A) Economic solvency.

• B) Perform scientific research in jurisdictional waters.

• C) Responsive letter.

• D) Family ties (parents, minor children, spouses, concubines, under-age stepchildren) with Mexican or foreigner who has the status of Temporary Resident or holder of a Temporary Residency visa.

• E) It has real property in national territory.

• F) It has investments in national territory.

• (G) Under an international legal instrument for the mobility of persons.

In the end, we’re classifying this letter as both “truth” and “outdated.” Claims about the documentation requirements made in the Letter from an American Working in Mexico appear to generally align with documentation requirements. Still, the letter doesn’t reflect changes that have been made to Mexico’s immigration system over the last seven years.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 02/14/2017

An American Working In Mexico

The following letter is by Tom O’Malley, who was a director with S.W. BELL in Mexico City:

“I spent five years working in Mexico. I worked under a tourist Visa for three months and could legally renew it for three more months. After that you were working illegally. I was technically illegal for three weeks waiting on the FM3 approval.

During that six months our Mexican and U.S. attorneys were working to secure a permanent work visa called a ‘FM3’. It was in addition to my U.S. passport that I had to show each time I entered and left the country. My wife Barbara’s was the same, except hers did not permit her to work.

To apply for the FM3, I needed to submit the following notarized originals (not copies):

Birth certificate for Barbara and me.
Marriage certificate.
High school transcripts and proof of graduation.
College transcripts for every college I attended and proof of graduation.
Two letters of recommendation from supervisors I had worked for at least one year.
A letter from the St. Louis Chief of Police indicating that I had no arrest record in the U. S. and no outstanding warrants and, was “a citizen in good standing”.
Finally, I had to write a letter about myself that clearly stated why there was no Mexican citizen with my skills and why my skills were important to Mexico. We called it our ‘I am the greatest person on Earth’ letter. It was fun to write.

All of the above were in English that had to be translated into Spanish and be certified as legal translations, and our signatures notarized. It produced a folder about 1.5 inches thick with English on the left side and Spanish on the right.

Once they were completed, Barbara and I spent about five hours, accompanied by a Mexican attorney, touring Mexican government office locations and being photographed and fingerprinted at least three times at each location, and we remember at least four locations where we were instructed on Mexican tax, labor, housing, and criminal law and that we were required to obey their laws or face the consequences. We could not protest any of the government’s actions or we would be committing a felony. We paid out four thousand dollars in fees and bribes to complete the process. When this was done we could legally bring in our household goods that were held by U.S. Customs in Laredo, Texas. This meant we had rented furniture in Mexico while awaiting our goods. There were extensive fees involved here that the company paid.

We could not buy a home and were required to rent at very high rates and under contract and compliance with Mexican law.”

We were required to get a Mexican driver’s license. This was an amazing process. The company arranged for the licensing agency to come to our headquarters location with their photography and fingerprint equipment and the laminating machine. We showed our U.S. license, were photographed and fingerprinted again and issued the license instantly after paying out a six dollar fee. We did not take a written or driving test and never received instructions on the rules of the road. Our only instruction was to never give a policeman your license if stopped and asked. We were instructed to hold it against the inside window away from his grasp. If he got his hands on it you would have to pay ransom to get it back.

We then had to pay and file Mexican income tax annually using the number of our FM3 as our ID number. The company’s Mexican accountants did this for us and we just signed what they prepared. It was about 20 legal size pages annually.

The FM3 was good for three years and renewable for two more after paying more fees.

Leaving the country meant turning in the FM3 and certifying we were leaving no debts behind and no outstanding legal affairs (warrants, tickets or liens) before our household goods were released to customs.

It was a real adventure and if any of our Senators or Congressmen went through it once they would have a different attitude toward Mexico.”

“The Mexican government uses its vast military and police forces to keep its citizens intimidated and compliant. They never protest at their capitol or government offices, but do protest daily in front of the United States Embassy. The U.S. Embassy looks like a strongly reinforced fortress and during most protests the Mexican military surrounds the block with their men standing shoulder to shoulder in full riot gear to protect the Embassy. These protests are never shown on U.S. or Mexican TV. There is a large public park across the street where they do their protesting. Anything can cause a protest such as proposed law changes in California or Texas.”

Please feel free to share this with everyone who thinks we are being hard on the illegals.