As new missionaries in Guatemala, we needed to get our residency papers so we didn’t have to leave for Mexico every six months and still be legal in Guatemala. Here are some of the things we wish we had known when we were going through the paperwork process for residency after we moved to Guatemala.
U.S. Paperwork prep
Read on, but get the following papers together so you can impress your lawyer and get things moving quickly:
- Complete copy of your passport
- U.S. Embassy validated copy of passport at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala
- WARNING: This may be the U.S. Embassy but validation takes time. Get there before 12 noon and you can probably get it at 2:30 that afternoon. Get there in the afternoon and you’ll have to go back the next day. Oh, and each validated copy will cost you US$50. They do accept credit cards if you don’t have the cash.
- Criminal background check (This must be less than 6 months old when you turn it in and will require you to get things done in the U.S. so plan accordingly.)
- Click to see instructions on how to get background checks from the FBI
- Make sure to have all three authentication stamps on your background check documents:
- From the office that produced it (We used the FBI. Be sure to REQUEST an authentication seal and signature if you use the FBI. They don’t do that unless you make special request.)
- Authentication by the state or federal Secretary of State (use federal if you use the FBI.)
- Legalization of the documents by the Guatemalan Embassy or consulate that oversees the district where the document was produced. (Click to find out which consulate covers your state!)
- These may not be necessary but are recommended to have ready:
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage Licenses
- Legalize it all…
NOTE: If your US passport is going to expire in the next year, I recommend that you get to Guatemala and immediately apply for a passport renewal BEFORE you start this process. (It only takes about 10 days to get your new passport from the embassy.) I had to go back through part of the process since my passport expired shortly after we got the permanent visa stamp. Keep your old passport to show the entry date to the immigration office.
Guatemalan Residency Visa Options
According to our lawyer and other sites there are three main long-term residency visa options (not including student, diplomatic, etc.) Since we just had our baby here in Guatemala, we opted for the Parents of Guatemalan child option. While others are available, I have listed three main options here: Continue reading