Global Migration Digest

November 2013 (Vol. 2, No. 1)

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Mexican Backlog Reduction Efforts by Enrique Arellano and Enrique Arellano Rincon Abogados Mexico City, Mexico E xtensive efforts to reduce backlogs and improve the processing timeframes become evident after eight months following the enforcement of the new Migration Act. After considerable backlogs accumulated during the first half of the year, the National Immigration Institute (INM) has implemented significant developments that have enhanced the processing timeframes in all regional INM offices in Mexico. Noteworthy changes include the acquisition of printers in all Mexican INM offices to issue the new Temporary and Permanent Residence ID cards onsite, aiming to reduce the delivery timeframes. Formerly, the ID cards were issued at the National Printing Office and eventually sent to the INM for collection. This process took 5 weeks on average, compared to the 1-3 business days it takes with the new process. In addition, the INM office in Mexico City has also created special desks to process visa renewal applications and registry processes for foreigners that first arrive with a pre-approved immigration status as Temporary or Permanent residents. This special desk entails a reduction of the processing times to 1 week on average, compared to the 4 to 6 weeks it used to take. A completely new immigration regime has been in existence in Mexico since November 9, 2012 after almost 40 years under the previous scheme, which only suffered slight modifications during this period. The changes in the law caused significant processing delays in all types of visa applications submitted at the INM, given the immediate change in the Mexican Presidency less than a month after the enforcement of the new law, as it was followed by the substitution of many of the officers at the INM. Such drastic change in the regime per se entailed processing delays due to new policies and loopholes in the law. As a result, the criteria often derived in discretional capacities of the new officers as they got used both to their new faculties and policies that lacked empirical knowledge. Delays were worsened due to the massive dismissal of public servants working at the INM because they failed to approve the compliance and trust tests as part of the Mexican government effort to eliminate corruption. Official sources announced in July this year the dismissal of more than 620 people working at the INM during the current administration (which has been in office for only 6 months). In addition, the government offered special training by mid-July to immigration officers who are transferring from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work in Mexican consulates. The training is designed to prepare consulate staff for the role of deciding visa applications. There have been delays as the consulates acclimated to the new role for which the Mexican consulates have been empowered. The training is expected to help make the process more efficient. A steady application of the law has become evident in recent months and we expect a stricter application of the law, its regulations, and the complimentary guidelines that support the practical application of the new Migration Act. Many of the policies initially contemplated in the Act are yet to be enforced, such as the negativa ficta (i.e. a work visa application is considered denied if no official response is received within 20 business days) and the implementation of the point-based system that grants direct access to the Permanent Resident status for highly qualified foreigners or the quota system. www.aila.org 5

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