Red Tape

Needing a Certificate of Moral Solvency

Dear Carl and Lorena:

We recently returned from a trip to Mexico and found your book both helpful and entertaining. We plan to return for good the first of August. We have finally had enough of the stress, monotony, intolerance, insanity and political tomfoolery in amerika, and have decided that it is time to do something about it.

I have a few questions that, hopefully, you can help me with. First is a problem that I face with attaining the various levels of immigration status. I have drug convictions in my background and have been asked for a certificate of moral solvency. The convictions themselves were for somewhat large sums of marijuana and appear far more serious than they, in fact, are.

Calling the Mexican Consulate has proved both frustrating and unfruitful. It seems I am told something different each time I have called. They seem quite adamant about the morals question, but in looking over the application I see that it says nothing about this requirement.

I’m wondering if this morals information is a requirement for FM 2 status, but not for FM 3. My hope is that I would not be required to supply this information and be granted an FM 2. As you can see, I need some straight information. I don’t want to “spit in the soup” if you know what I mean.

We plan to settle some place north of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita or San Francisco perhaps, but who knows. Mexico is a huge country, and we have only sampled a small part of it. Regardless, we will enter the country from somewhere in Texas. Laredo is the shortest route, but I have heard that Brownsville is less hassle.

Any help you can be in the above matters, or information on the route south will be greatly appreciated.


Pat and Penny


We asked jennifer rose, a U.S. attorney who lives in Mexico to respond to your questions.

Dear Pat and Penny,

The FM-3 can be applied for either in the U.S. or in Mexico, but application for the FM-2 must be made in Mexico. Once you've been granted the FM-3, and after validating it upon entry into the country, you may upgrade it to the FM-2.

Mexican Consulate offices within the U.S. have a great deal of discretion, and each appears to operate under a different set of rules. What might pass muster in St. Jose might be quickly rejected in St. Louis. For a lengthy explanation of Mexican immigration law, please refer to my article "Moving to Mexico's a Breeze," at <>.

The certificate of moral solvency attests to your criminal record. You might be able to make an argument for rehabilitation dependent upon the age of the offense, whether the conviction was for a felony or misdemeanor, discharge from probation and even an affidavit from your probationer officer. If you have been granted a restoration of rights, include that information. Arguments about whether marijuana should be legalized, the unfairness of your conviction or political motivation are not persuasive. Massachusetts Governor Weld's medical marijuana use subjected his appointment to scrutiny, but you don't apparently have his clout.

This advice is not a substitute for legal advice from a competent Mexican attorney specializing in immigration law. The advice given here is general in nature, may or may not apply to your situation, and does not create any attorney-client relationship.

One work-around might be for you to do nothing more than merely obtaining a new tourist card every 180 days. Your partner, who has a clean criminal record, could enter under her own FM-3, transporting the car and furniture under her permit. Of course, under this scenario, you would not gain permanent residency status or the ability to legally work.

Which aduana is more hassle-free? Arguments can be made for and against every border crossing between San Ysidro and Brownsville.

jennifer rose

From the People's Guide Travel Letter #5
©1972-2000 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens
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