Spouses of Aliens (ah-hem) Mexicans: This Book’s For You

As some of my readers already know, my husband is Mexican and can’t apply for a visa to live in the U.S. until he’s lived outside the U.S. for TEN YEARS. That’s why I moved to Mexico. That’s why it was so hard to move to Mexico. I felt wrongly exiled and quite overwhelmed. We had no funds to buy a nice house and had to take jobs earning “regular Mexican” wages.  I had to give up my career and time with family and friends.  At first I felt totally alone going through this. All the information I could find about moving to Mexico was written for people with money who were (apparently) looking for a leisurely life in the sun.

I was in this other group of silently suffering people. I felt like this person, who wrote me in October 2008 with a story that brought back memories:

We have been together for 4 years.  I always thought that if things got serious enough for us (i.e. getting married) that we would ‘figure out’ a way to get him documented to be in the U.S.  Well, the past year or so has been eye opening to say the least.  He has always told me that it is ‘not that easy’ for him to become documented just by us getting married, but I never understood this – as in, if he is my husband, HOW can the gov’t tell me he can’t be here with me?!


Christina had been told that her boyfriend would have to be out of the U.S. for up to 2 years and that his petition to live in the U.S. might not be approved. If the petition is approved, she is lucky – though she was feeling anything but lucky when she heard that news. She is facing losing a job she loved, moving to a country where she is concerned about being able to continue in her career and having to work long hours and Saturdays, being far away from family and friends, the cost of paying for a lawyer, etc.

Does this sound familiar? It does to me, except that I was even less lucky. My then boyfriend fell under section 212(a)(9)(C)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which “renders inadmissible those aliens who were previously unlawfully present in the United States for an aggregate period of more than one year who enter or attempt to re-enter the United States without being admitted [as in: he had gone home to visit his family and come back the only way he could]. These aliens are permanently inadmissible, however, after they have been outside the United States for at least 10 years [emphasis mine], they may seek consent to reapply for admission from the Attorney General” (source: http://www.shusterman.com/aos-up.html) Back then (it was 2001), we were some of the first people to fall under that section of the Act, which came into effect in 1997.

We were among the first, but I knew that we couldn’t be the only ones going through an enforced move to Mexico, so I set out to write my book and create this web site to help others like us.  About 8 years later, through this web site, I suddenly began to get lots of emails from other people (mostly women) who are moving/have had to move to Mexico to either wait for approval of their spouses’ visa, like Christina, or to wait out the same 10 year bar we were under.

Meanwhile, to reach a broader audience with this web site, I had researched and addressed the needs of those who want to retire in Mexico – really, of anyone who might want to live in Mexico on a budget or tackle culture shock and cultural integration as part of their move to Mexico — but, spouses of “aliens,” at its heart, this site and, especially my book, are for YOU.

I know you probably feel like you have no money now that you have to move to another country where you will suddenly be earning a tenth of what you do now, but I encourage you to buy my book for yourself. You don’t have to go through this alone. My husband and I have already done it and I wrote down everything that I needed to know and had to learn the hard way. YOU DON’T NEED TO LEARN THE HARD WAY. There are many details in my book that I don’t put up on my web site for free. I promise you won’t be sorry.

Amanda Hernandez is another person forced to live in Mexico and I asked her to read my book and write a review from that perspective–and she liked it! You can read her review of Mexico: The Trick is Living Here on her blog. In fact, she liked the book right from the start. She hadn’t finished the review yet, but she’d already recommended to two people that they buy my book.  The book can really save you trouble (and money) in the long run. For example, in reading her blog for December 15, 2008, she mentions confusion with apostilles for documents. In my book I tell you what apostilles are, how to get them, and which documents should be done before you move. This will save you the kind of stress and costs that come from having these details come up as last-minutes surprises, like they did for me and for Amanda. The apostilles actually provide a good example of this. The cost of the book, $19.95 (USD), is roughly what you would spend on courier services for getting apostilles done from Mexico, not to mention the cost of international phone calls, the return courier fee, and the difficulty of paying for the apostille from outside your home state.  Buying the book will save you time and money in the long run — not to mention stress.

Take it from people who have been through it, it’s helpful to get the information you need ahead of time. Here’s an excerpt of an email that I received from Stephanie Bolton Olvera, who is now safely back in the U.S. with her husband, but who recognized the usefulness of the information I provide.

Dear Julia –

I came across your website tonight and thought it was absolutely wonderful. I’m 25 years old and lived in Mexico a couple of years ago. My husband is originally from Mexico and while we were trying to figure out his U.S. residency – he lived in Mexico and I was able to join him for a while. … I’m glad you touched on all of the emotions one feels while leaving in a foreign country. When I moved to Mexico – I had never done a load of laundry – boy, was I surprised when I had to wash clothes by hand! I kicked the habit of drinking a daily Dr. Pepper (because I couldn’t find one in the town I lived in) and I learned to speak Spanish.

I can’t say that I LOVED living in Mexico – I was quite lonely and homesick but it is an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. My eyes were opened to a new world and a different way of living.

My husband is a realtor who helps U.S. Americans & Canadians relocate to Mexico – I’m going to pass this along to his clients and if you don’t mind I’ll put the link to your site in his monthly newsletter.

I also participate on an immigration website and I think your site would be such a valuable tool to the families on that site who relocate to Mexico.

Best wishes on your e-book and your life in Mexico.

–Stephanie Bolton Olvera

I know, part of what makes people willing to enter into relationships with people of another culture is a natural sense of adventure, but you don’t have to move to Mexico blind. You can treat yourself to a guide book that will help you plan for and adjust to living in Mexico. If I don’t convince you, let Amanda, Stephanie, Christina, and the others convince you.

Experienced Expat Says…

“Dear Julia,

“I love what you have done with your book. I wish I had had this when I first moved to Tepoztlan in 1993 (I lived there 3 + years and Puerto Juarez 3 more years). I taught classes and workshops/trainings in NLP, communications and body therapy.

“A book like yours would have facilitated several of the embarrassing “gringo” situations I experienced. AND saved me a lot of ‘personal experience’ learning.

“Good for you!

“Sincerely, Daniel”

If anyone on your Christmas list wants to retire in Mexico, you should give them my book! You don’t even have to leave your house to buy it. You can download it right this minute and either print it out or burn it on a CD (please respect my copyright and only make one copy) and you’ll have one loved one checked off of your Christmas gift shopping list! How easy and thoughtful.