Mexico Immigration Laws and Application Process Summary
The following Mexico immigration information is provided as a resource for our readers and will be updated periodically as policy and changes are made and brought to our attention. As with any government rules they can be dynamic in nature when it comes to implementation and timing.
As of August 2013, we believe the information we provide here is correct. We have also provided some additional links to other resources at the bottom of this page.
Before you get too far along please read these quick tips prior to starting any process through the Mexico Institute of National Immigration INM website.
Do not click on the “English” option at the top of the page because that will take you to the “Home” page which is the only page with the English option. We suggest using Google Translate which does a nice job of making the form and instructions usable for English-speakers.
To obtain, renew or change your immigration status, you must start here by filling out an online application, being accepted and receiving a NUE.
IF you have not previously had an extended immigration status in Mexico, like and FM2 or FM3 you MUST begin your temporal application process through a Mexican consulate in your home country. You cannot apply within Mexico with a tourist visa.
Mexico’s Immigration Rules as of August, 2013
Beginning on November 1, 2012, four new status categories were created and the old FM2 or FM3, immigrant or non-immigrant statuses have mostly expired. However, all current FM2 and FM3 statuses will remain valid until their expiration dates and people holding current FM2′s and FM3′s will only have to comply with the new rules when they apply for renewals under the new system when they will receive the new ID cards, called “Tarjeta de Residencia”.
The first status category is “Visitante”. This status encompasses non-working visitors (a typical tourist), working visitors, visitors for adoptions and humanitarians. It’s valid for 6 months and visitors have to leave the country within 6 months. These permits will still be handed out from the airlines, ship, or at the border. It’s important to keep your tourist visa with your passport.
If a tourist wants to upgrade their status to Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente, they will have to leave the country after 180 days and apply from their home country. INM is expected to release the new regulations to explain how tourists can begin the residency application process by applying online or at their Mexican Consulate.
The second status category is “Residente Temporal”. This status is similar to the old FM2 and FM3. With this status, temporary residents may enter and leave the country as many times as they like. Obtaining a work visa is possible and there is a 4 year limit. Foreigners who have obtained this status meet qualification characteristics such as a financial officer, investor, professional position of trust such as teacher or doctor, scientist, technical expert, artist or sports athlete. There are more characteristics as well such those seeking political asylum and refugees.
“Residente Temporal Estudiante”
Exchange students, researchers, and educators make up the third status category of “Residente Temporal Estudiante”.
The fourth status is “Residente Permanente” and means you have “No Immigrant” status. With this status you may stay in the country indefinitely, you have the right to work, and you do not have to renew your status. Permanent residency can be granted after 4 years of Temporary Residency vs. the current 5 year requirement.
Residents may also gain Permanent residency through 2 years of marriage or a common law relationship with a Mexican citizen. However, permanent residency also depends on the applicant successfully completing 2 years of temporary residency concurrent with the marriage.
Foreigners will also be able to apply for permanent residency through a point system. If an applicant has enough points based on level of education, work experience, skills in the development of science and technology, international surveys, and other professional areas, they may apply for permanent residency before the 4 years is up.
How The New Residency Statuses Affect Importing A Car
Aduana is the agency that dictates auto import issues. Once the new statuses are in force, the auto permits will line up with the new statuses. Until the new statuses are in full force, there may be an amnesty period to allow foreigners to resolve any issues with permits. There are also regions of Mexico where permits are not required like Baja and parts of Sonora.
You can expect an update on the formal rules soon but it will be tied to your immigration status as this was a recent change made with aduana just 2 years ago.
As with all processes involving any brand of government, you will need documentation. To obtain/renew your Mexican visa, you will need to provide:
a) A Letter addressed to your local INM office Delegado requesting the type of visa your would like to apply for.
Proof of Income
Residente Temporal applicants must submit documents proving they they meet one of the following requirements with their applications:
- Original and copy of proof of investments or bank accounts with average monthly balance equivalent to 20,000 days of the minimum wage in the Federal District during the last twelve months or
- Original and copies of documents showing monthly employment or unencumbered pension income greater than 400 days of the minimum wage in the Federal District, for the past six months.
The legal minimum daily wage in the Federal District in 2012 is 62.33 pesos, so 400 times that is 24,932 pesos, or $1,890 dollars at today’s exchange rate of 13.19 pesos to the dollar. This amount is increased by 50% for each dependent. A married couple applying for the new Residente Temporal visa are required to have a minimum monthly income of $2,835.00
20,000 days minimum wage is 1,246,600 pesos, or $94,500 dollars.
An applicant for Residente Permanente must show either the same 20,000 days minimum wage in investments or a monthly employment or pension income of 500 times the minimum wage. That would be $2,365 dollars per month of income. A married couple would require $3,548 per month of income.
Proof of sufficient monthly income, as per the chart below (2013 Federal District minimum wage [“FDMW”]= 64.76 MXN; exchange rate used = 13.19 MXN/$1)
Produce documentation showing
Monthly income of:
400 X FDMW
Avg daily acct balance of:
20,000 X FDMW
Monthly income of:
500 X FDMW
Avg daily acct balance of:
25,000 X FDMW
Proof of Address
c) Proof of Mexico address, such as a utility bill (does not have to be in your name), or bank statement (in your name).
d) Three photos in color, passport style and a profile – two front and one side, with the ears and forehead uncovered, without jewelry and glasses. (most local immigration offices have photo services located adjacent or near them).
e) A letter of application (from INM internet site), or the “NUE” number of your application; however, a copy of the accepted application with the NUE number is best.
f) Original and copies of US passport, and any recent INM visa, or FMM (tourist) paperwork.
g) For your first application, also bring your birth certificate and marriage license (if appropriate) and, of course, a copy or 2 of each.
As a precaution against having to make a second or third trip to INM office, we suggest having two copies of everything. DO NOT expect the Immigration office to make copies of anything, you must provide your own photo copies of all documents requested.
After the first time application, proof of income and residency will no longer be required for the following three years or until your renewal date (if less than 4 years). Instead, what is required is a letter signed by the visa holder that all information on the original application is still valid. There will be no renewals required of a permanent visa card and it will allow working.
The regulations for the new immigration law (la ley aduana) went into effect November 10, 2012,. The current fees are:
3,130 MXN/1 year
4,690 MXN/2 years
5,940 MXN/3 years
7,040 MXN/4 years
3,815 MXN one time
The link to check on the status of your application is:Currently, the link to apply for Residente Temporal is: http://www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/Migrantes
Our friends at Yucalandia have a great blog post on more of the specifics and how to figure the income requirements…make sure to check that for the details; the income requirements are towards the bottom of this article.
Additional resources and Mexican attorney interpretations of the new immigration laws in Mexico 2012-2013 Linked Here
Mexico Visa FAQ’s
|What is the difference between Temporal and Permanente?||Temporal is good for up to four years with a fee for each year (payable each year, or in any combination, or as a one-time fee). After four years on a Temporal Visa, you must change to a Permanente.
Permanente permits you to live in Mexico indefinitely with a one-time fee, after four years residence.
|Do the years under the FM system count toward the Residente visas?||Yes|
|What are the time options for each visa?||
Temporal: 1 to 4 years
Permanente: No limit
|Changing from an FM visa to a Permanente (or Temporal) can be done in Mexico?||Yes, if you have had an FM2 or 3 for 4 years.|
|What are the income requirements when dealing with a husband and a wife, and/or family? On, combined incomes?||It can be if you want; for instance, if only one of you has the basic qualifying income, or account balance.To include a spouse, or any other qualifying family member, you add 100 to the number of days required for the valid Residente visa – per person. You will also need documentation proving the relationship (i.e., an apostilled marriage license).To add your spouse to your Residente Temporal, you add 100 to the 400 days of FDMW. So, for you to qualify as a couple, you need 500 days of FDMW or, $32,380 MXN, or $2590 USD income per month.For all other purposes, a “family” visa adjunct is treated individually.|
Need More VISA Information?
We have been through the process here in Mexico a few times and have found some great resources. Tell us a little bit about where you want to go and the kind of help you need and we’ll do our best to get you to Mexico!