There are several types of visas available for those wishing to reside in Mexico. Here are a few. In total, my experience includes thousands of immigration processes with every scenario imaginable and at a cost lower than others. Plus, I have an excellent relationship with Inmigracion staff some of whom are personal friends.
Note: once you have a Temporary or Permanent Resident Visa never enter Mexico with a FMM card marked "tourist". You will then be a tourist and you need to start the process over at a Mexican consulate. And please never have a color copy of your visa, driver's license or any other Mexican government issued ID as that is considered fraud with serious consequences.
If you lose your visa while outside Mexico you are to go to the nearest Mexican consulate or embassy. Another possible option, is upon arrival at an airport in Mexico you immediately go to Inmigracion at the airport.You ask for a meeting and request a 2 page letter called: ACTA DE INTERNACION AEREA. You then apply at Inmigracion where you live to process a lost visa. I have only seen this done once.
FMM - Forma Migratoria Multiple
Your FMM allows one to enter Mexico, one time, for up to 180 days. The back of the form confirms it is for one entry and states: "During your stay in Mexico you must retain this immigration form and surrender it upon leaving the country". There is a new electronic FMME for air and land travel. To obtain this form, you may go to the link on the right. There you complete the application from any electronic device connected to the Internet. Print the FMM and keep it with you to be validated where you enter Mexico. The immigration authorities must stamp it. Once the form has been printed, you have 30 days to enter Mexico and you may remain in Mexico (without engaging in paid activities) for up to 180 days.
The traditional way of obtaining the FMM at ports of entry is still in force. The FMME is an additional option to the traditional practice and will facilitate the process by enabling the user to fill out the form in advance, from any country. It is very important to keep the stamped portion of the FMM that corresponds to the record of entry, as this is proof of your legal entry into Mexico and will be required when you leave the country.
Prior to your FMM expiration normally you must return to the border as it can not be extended in Mexico. The FMM tourist card is 575 pesos per person. If your FMM does expire while in Mexico, and flying out, please go to Inmigracion at the airport and pay for another. If driving the legal answer is to do the same. During COVID-19 you may renew your expired FMM tourist card for 180 days at a local inmigracion office. In San Miguel I can help with your renewal. And, once your new FMM is issued you may apply locally for a Temporary Resident visa.
Mexican Consulate Visa Pre-approval
Mexican Consulate appointments are often required to apply for a pre-approved Temporary or Permanent Resident visa. Appointments may be made by calling from Mexico 01-404-266-2233 (ext 250). Or via the web site by clicking the "appointments" button or calling the consulate. When making appointment on-line you may change the language in upper right corner. Each person needs a separate interview time including children but a family / couple will be seen together.You must tell the consulate staff you intend to retire. If you mention working in Mexico you will likely be declined. A very few consulates require a police report, background check. If you are coming to San Miguel de Allende or Puerto Vallarta / Nayarit to process your visa and you are working with me I am happy to make your appointment.
1. Photograph 39 mm x 31 mm max to 32 x 26 mm, (typically passport size), face uncovered, no glasses, front view, in colour, white background.
2. In the U.S. $40 cash per person and in Canada $54.
3. Mexican consulate visa application form to be printed double-sided (one per person), completed and taken with you. On question 21, for a Temporary Resident pre-approval check more than 180 days and less than 4 years and for Permanent Resident check "DEFINITIVE". Complete questions 1- 25.
4. Passport plus copy. For Mexico, your passport needs to be valid at time of entry. It does not require 6 months of remaining validity.
5. Financials: 12 months of individual printouts for savings/investments and/or 6 months of individual bank printouts showing income and/or proof of home ownership in Mexico. Take as much proof of financials as possible. You can not have too much. Your name must be on your financial statements and if a joint account both names.
6. Appointment confirmation form.
7. Original and copies of marriage licenses and birth certificates, as they may ask.
The pre-approval allows you to enter Mexico up to 6 months from time when pre-approved. Once you enter Mexico you have 30 days to start your visa process. Your pre-approved visa is for ONE entry and you may not enter a second time with it. When entering Mexico by car you must stop at the borderand obtain your TIP (car permit) and FMM as above. When flying, at your point of entry, you will receive a FMM. In both cases, your FMM must be marked CANJE by Mexican immigration staff and date stamped along with a date stamp on your pre-approved visa in your passport. If this is not done you will be sent back to the border. Your FMM will indicate 30 days. Typically, in Mexico process takes up to 4 - 10 weeks but varies with each INM office. You may leave Mexico once approved and finger printed and one has applied for and received a travel letter. The minimum time for that to happen is typically 5 weeks but again varies with each INM office. Some INM offices are faster and some slower. You can not expedite the process. You can not leave Mexico without your travel letter. Or, you may wait the full period until your visa is issued. Note, in the U.S. when one who is applying for a resident visa, you can not leave the US until process is completed and that takes up to a year. Please, do not come to Mexico and say I have to get back to my job in 2 weeks. It will NOT happen. Please be realistic.
Temporary Resident Visa
Temporary Resident Visa (TR) is for those who intend to be in Mexico more than 6 months and up to 4 years. TR starts with a pre-approval at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico. When you enter Mexico with a pre-approved visa, at the border you also complete a FMM as above. It must be marked CANJE by Immigration. In Mexico, visas may take up to 10 weeks to process. There are several steps including on-line forms, photos, bank payment, several copies and then finger prints after approximately 5 weeks, etc. Visa will be issued for 1 year and up to one month before expiration you may renew for 3 more years. Your expiration date will be on the anniversary of the day you entered Mexico and received your FMM. A foreign plated car is allowed for as long as you are a TR. After 4 years you become a Permanent Resident. One may not earn Mexico sourced income as a TR but you may earn income from outsde of Mexico. Proving home ownership in Mexico will also be given credit when applying. The amounts may vary based on exchange rates and consulate's policy. Prior to going to a Mexican consulate please complete and take the consulate application.
For financial statements, if account is in both names, have both names appear on statements. Mexican account printouts usually show one name on joint accounts. The following amounts are based on a 21 to 1 US$ and 16 to 1 C$ exchange rate. Some consulates and embassies will vary.
Once your visa is issued do not leave the consulate without first checking your pre-approved visa in your passport. If you applied as a Temporary Resident and issued a Permanent resident pre-approval, you car is illegal after 30 days. This does happen.
Your first TR visa will be issued for 1 year. Within 30 days prior to the one year expiration you may renew for up to 3 more years. Financials are not required and renewal is done locally.
Permanent Resident Visa
Permanent Resident Visa (PR) is for those who plan to live in Mexico permanently. It also starts with a pre-approval as above and process is same as a Temporary Resident visa but as name implies, it is permanent. One may work as a PR but must inform INM after registering with SAT for taxes. INM may deny approval to work. A foreign plated car is not allowed. The amounts are per person. Consulates vary and may use different numbers taking into account exchange rates but many will not. For those who are Temporary Residents and living in Mexico, you may become a Permanent Resident at any time in less than 4 years. To do so, you must prove income of ~$2600 US per month from only a pension or investments / savings of ~$80,000 US / $109,000 C. These amounts are based on multiples of La Unidad de Medida y Actualización (UMA) which is currently 86.88.
For financial statements, if account is in both names, have both names appear on your statements. Mexican printouts often show 1 name on joint accounts. The following amounts are based on a 21 to 1 US$ and 15 to 1 C$ exchange rate.
Children with a Permanent Resident visa between ages of 1 and 3 must renew their visa annually. Children over age 3 must renew every 4 years until 18.
Humanitarian Visas are free for those in Mexico including Tourists or one with no visa. Applicant must be unable to travel to outside of Mexico and as in so doing the applicant's life would be at risk and may die The humanitarian visa requires an examination and letter from the applicant's physician stating those words re: risk as noted. Then, that document is presented to a physician approved by Immigration who issues a very specific letter. In San Miguel, only one doctor is acceptable to INM and she will send a nurse to the applicant's home for a final evaluation. They require a lot of work and time to process. Humanitarian visas are renewed annually. I represent the largest long term care facilities in SMA and process many. A person with a Humanitarian visa may apply for Temporary or Permanent Resident visa locally based on financials.
Visa To Earn Income From Within Mexican
Permiso Para Trabajar Visa (permission to earn income) is issued to those who already have a Temporary Resident visa and who wish to earn Mexican sourced income from being a musician, artist, selling real estate, hair dresser, self-employed, landlord, etc. This is not applicable to one being hired by a large employer. It requires one to begin the registration process and making an appointment with SAT (taxation) on-line and then going to the appointment to finalize your registration and receiving your password. You will also receive your cedula (QR scanner code). Once this is done, you may apply at Inmigracion for your Permiso Para Trabajar visa which requires bank payment, forms, photos, finger prints, etc. A Permanent Resident may work but must complete the SAT process the same as that for a Temporary Resident and then inform Immigration with letter, copies, SAT registration information, etc.
Visas Through Family / Spouse / Employer
Obtaining a visa under family for a married couple, normally each must show the qualifying amounts of income, investments etc. If not possible, one option is for one person of the married couple to qualify. If husband qualifies and wife does not, she enters as a tourist and when husband has his visa she may start her visa process in Mexico. Spouse does not need financials as she is being sponsored by the other spouse. However, if name on wife's and husband's passports do not exactly match as per their names on the marriage certificate one needs a notarized letter from their Embassy in Mexico City confirming the person named on the passport is the same person named on the marriage license. Example, Mary Elizabeth Smith is not the same as Mary E. Smith to INM. The marriage license will also need to be legalized or apostilled and translated by a certified translator in Mexico. If wife can qualify and husband enters as a tourist it is usually easier as the husband's name on his passport more often matches his name on marriage license / certificate.
When the sponsor is a Permanent Resident, the sponsored spouse may apply as a Temporary Resident for one year. Sponsored spouse then renews for one more year. After two years that person may become a Permanent Resident. There is the need to apostille or legalize marriage certificate and to have the apostille and license translated by a certified translator in Mexico. When the sponsor is Permanent Resident parent, sponsored child, not born in Mexico, age 18 and younger, may apply as a Permanent Resident. The child's birth certificate requires an apostle or to be legalized and both documents translated by a certified translator in Mexico. Child's name on passport and birth certificates must match to the letter.
An adult child may sponsor an adult parent. Parent applies for same visa classification as adult child. Again, document name matches are a must.
Visa application based on family allows for foreigners with a child born in Mexico to become a Permanent Resident (not a Temporary Resident) by applying in Mexico with no need to prove financials. Parent/s need a current FMM, child's Mexican birth certificate and government issued ID, parent's passport with exact same name as parent's name on the child's birth certificate.
Obtaining a visa through marriage to a Mexican national means no pre-approval at a Mexican consulate and no financials required. The process can be started in Mexico. Expat spouse must have a valid FMM tourist card. He/she will receive a 1 year Temporary Resident visa and in 12 months renew for one more year. After two years the person becomes a Permanent Resident. It is easier if married in Mexico or otherwise marriage license must be apostille or legalized and both the license and the apostille must be translated by a certified translator in Mexico. Both names on marriage license and on passports must be identical. Prior to applying at Inmigracion in Mexico you must register your marriage at Registro Civil.
Sponsoring a Spouse From a Country Requiring a Visa to Enter Mexico applies to when one spouse is a Mexican citizen or Temporary Resident (TR) or Permanent Resident (PR ) and this person wants to sponsor their spouse to reside in Mexico when the spouse lives in a country requiring a travel visa to enter Mexico. For example, a citizen / TR / PR has a spouse who he / she needs to sponsor as a temporary resident living in a country requiring permission to visit Mexico such as Cuba, Thailand, China, etc. as per here: https://www.inm.gob.mx/gobmx/word/index.php/paises-requieren-visa-para-mexico/
The process starts at an Inmigracion office in Mexico. The Mexican citizen / TR / PR visa holder requires:
Next, at the Consulate / Embassy
Once pre-approved the process is the same as any pre-approved visa holder. The one sponsored enters Mexico with a pre-approved TR stamp in his / her passport and obtains a FMM marked CANJE and within 30 days of having entered Mexico applies as a TR.
Mexican employer job offer for a foreigner requires the Mexican institution or person who intends to hire the foreigner to submit the visa application directly to the National Migration Institute in Mexico. The Embassy or Consulate can only issue a visa if it has been authorized by INM. Once the foreigner has the corresponding authorization, he must make an appointment at the consular office outside of Mexico closest to his residence and appear in person within 30 business days of authorization by INM in Mexico. The consulate issues a pre-approved permission to work for that specific employer. Once in Mexico, the employee goes to local INM to complete the process, similar as with anyone with a pre-approved visa. This is not a fast process and may take 3 months plus in all.
Expired Temporary Resident Visa
Visa expiration date is written: day/month/year.
Requirements Per Person For Visa Expired Less Than 60 days While In Mexico:
Travel Permission Letter
1. If you plan to travel outside of Mexico during the visa process please know if you are starting with a consulate pre-approved visa it is usually not possible to exit Mexico once process has started until you are approved. This is normally, ~6 weeks in San Miguel and 4 in PV, other offices vary.
2. If you are applying for a visa renewal you may apply for a travel letter at any time in the process and you do not have to wait for approval.
3. To travel as noted, you require a travel letter issued by INM. These letters in SMA take up to 3-5 business days. In Puerto Vallarta INM will not issue a travel letter without proof of an airline ticket. These letters have a fee, require forms, photo, bank form / payment, copies, submission and then returning to INM and waiting up to 3 hours for them. The travel letter is good for to up 60 days and the counting for the 60 days starts and includes the day your travel letter was issued. You must return within that time frame or your process is denied and you start your visa process over at a consulate.
4. Or, wait about 10 weeks or more when visa will be issued.
5. If you drive out with a travel letter and turn in your car permit, since you will have no visa and no FMM, you can not obtain a car permit to re-enter Mexico with your car. Your car will have to remain outside of Mexico until such time as your visa issued and you return to where it is located.
Temporary and Permanent Residents Travelling Outside of Mexico
When travelling outside of Mexico once you have a Temporary or Permanent Resident visa it is required you stop and obtain a FMM. That is the same card a tourist completes. On it please write your visa status at the top. Never allow it to be marked as "tourist". You keep half and submit that half upon re-entry in to Mexico. The legal answer is when either driving or flying this requirement is the same.
When one marries in a church in Mexico, your marriage is not recognized by the Mexican government. One needs to have a registered civil marriage.
To Authenticate (Legalize) Canadian Documents
When requested, Canadian documents may not be apostille so they need to be legalized. Here is the information for documents needing autentication. American documents such as birth certificates and marriage license may be apostille in the state where issued.
Change of Status: Address / Work / Employer / Marital Status
Changes in your status is to be reported to INM within 90 days. These include change of address, marriage, divorce, death of spouse, address, starting to work, terminating work, a new employer, earning income, selling a business, SAT taxation accounts changed to inactive, etc. Maximum fines are 8400 pesos. In the event of the death of a spouse, you do not actually do the change for the person who passed away. You submit the status change for the person who is now a widow / widower. If death, marriage or divorce occur outside of Mexico documents proving such need to be apostile or legalized and then translated in Mexico by a certified translator. If you need help, in Puerto Vallarta or San Miguel please ask.
Travel of Minors
Travel of minors changed with a decree published on December 2, 2013, reforming the provisions of the Migratory Law Regulation corresponding to the travel of minors under 18 years of age; this took effect on January 24, 2014.
Foreign minors (under 18 years of age) traveling to Mexico or alone or with a third party of legal age (grandparent, aunt/uncle, etc) as visitors including tourists with a short study stay of up to 180 days, do not require authorization or a letter of consent from their parents or guardians. Mexican migratory authorities will allow these minors to leave Mexico upon presentation of a valid passport.
The Canadian government requirements for minors departing or entering Canada may be consulted at the following webpage: http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/children
Minors under 18 years of age (girls, boys, adolescents or those under legal guardianship) who are of Mexican nationality or foreigners holding the migratory status of Permanent Resident, Temporary Resident or Temporary Student Resident, who are in Mexico and wish to travel abroad alone or accompanied by a person of legal age other than one of their parents, must present:
Notarized document in which those holding parental authority or guardianship authorize the minor’s departure from Mexico, granted before a Notary Public or Commissioner of Oaths, or the document issued by the National Migration Institute (INM), in the format published for this purpose, available at the following webpage: www.inm.gob.mx
If the parents or holders of parental authority or guardianship choose to authorize the minor’s departure from Mexico with the document granted before a Notary Public or Commissioner of Oaths, the document must specify the mode of transportation, destination and date of travel. If this document is issued abroad (Canada) it must be legalized at the Mexican Consulate or the Embassy of Mexico in Canada. In addition, this document must be accompanied by a translation into Spanish. Mexican offices abroad do not provide translation services.
A minor, who is a tourist, who is in Mexico and who wishes to travel from Mexico alone or with someone one other than a parent requires the notarized document as noted above.
Minors under the age of 18 travelling with at least one of their parents or guardians DO NOT require authorization or a letter of consent.
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2020 Immigration (INM) Fees
Tourist FMM: 575 pesos
Temporary Resident: 1 year $4,271 pesos, 2 years $6,400 pesos, 3 years $8,106 pesos.
Regularization Fee for Failure to Report Change of Status: $1,365 pesos (plus fines)
Permanent Resident: $5206 pesos with pre-approved consulate visa; plus review fee $1365 pesos after 4 years as a Temporary Resident.
Work Permission (permiso para trabajar): $3,207 pesos
Reposicion Fee for Lost / Stolen / Damaged Document Replacement: $1,315 pesos
Permission to Leave (travel letter): $437 pesos
Humanitarian Visa: $0
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The financial qualifying amounts below are per person but some consulates will accept lower financials for a spouse. Consulates may use different amounts taking into account exchange rates. What I post here are the laws issued by Mexican Immigration. Consulates are not a part of Immigration. Some consulates want original financials. Some want financials notarized. As well, some consulates want original marriage licences and birth certificates. I recommend you review your MX consulate web site. I am not responsible for those variables and the mood, knowledge, politics or skills of the person at the consulate.