Do you want to be in Mexico for more than the 180 days that a standard tourist visa allows? Are you holding no more than a tourist visa but want to get a Mexican temporary resident visa or become a permanent resident of Mexico? Have you been here in Mexico for a while and want to become a Mexican citizen? Then you need to understand how Mexican immigration law applies to your particular case, so you can avoid legal issues or being turned away from Mexico when you try to re-enter.
Easy Legal México can guide you step by step to obtain your Immigration visas (residente temporal or residente permanente), certificates and permissions. Just provide us with the required documents. We will handle the rest, saving you time, hassle, and more.
Mexican immigration law can be confusing. There are several options by which you could become a resident of Mexico and whether you’re able to earn income in Mexico or not. Easy Legal Mexico can help you understand your options, which options you qualify for, and what the best choice is for you and your goals. Then we can handle the process every step of the way to make it easy for you.
A temporary resident or permanent resident visa? Many newcomers to Mexico choose to go for their temporary resident visa first. Others who meet the requirements go straight to applying for a permanent resident visa. Each option has different requirements, ranging from financial assets, annual income, and more. Some are retired or partially retired, others work remotely or seek employment in Mexico. Yet others are transferred by their companies to work in Mexico.
We at Easy Legal Mexico are highly experienced in Mexican immigration law. We are proud to have helped many, many happy clients achieve their goal of living legally in Mexico for extended periods of time. Talk to us so we can help you determine what option is best for you, and what we can do to help you streamline the Mexican immigration process.
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Most visa processes cannot start in Mexico; you’d have to leave the country to go elsewhere to start the visa process. You’d need to go to a Mexican Embassy or Consulate office to apply for your visa. This doesn’t necessarily have to be in your home country, though that is often easier.
What do you need to get a visa?
You’ll need passport size photos (“infantil” size if in Mexico), no glasses, visible face, plain background. You can read the full requirements here: https://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/atlanta/index.php/component/content/article/11-visas/451-temporary-residency-more-than-180-days-and-less-of-4-years
The most common ways to get a temporary or permanent visa for Mexico are based on financial ability to afford to live in Mexico, and differ between temporary and permanent. Financial requirements for a Mexican permanent resident visa are higher, as detailed below. Other less common ways include conducting scientific research in Mexican waters, an Invitation Letter that invites the foreigner to participate in an activity not paid in a Mexican territory, religious activities (such as a mission or volunteer assignment with a religious institution).
What if I need to leave Mexico during the visa approval process?
You can always get a 60 days permit 5 days before your trip. If you don’t get this permit and try to leave the country, your application will be cancelled and you will need to start over. Government fees are not refundable or transferable.
What are the financial requirements for each type of visa? (Updated to reflect changes effective 1 January, 2023)
The most common way is to apply based on monthly income, which used to be determined by a multiple of the minimum wage in Mexico, but has been changed to be tied to the UMAS, or Unidades de Medida y Actualización which means “The Unit of Measurement and Update (UMA) is the economic reference in pesos to determine the amount of payment from obligations and alleged assumptions provided for in the federal law, for the states and Mexico City, as well as in legal provisions emanating from all of the above.” (http://en.www.inegi.org.mx/temas/uma/). For 2021 this works out to approximately 36,966 pesos per month. The base calculation is in Mexican pesos, so with exchange rate fluctuations the US Dollar or other currency requirement will vary.
Economic solvency is the other primary way to qualify for either a temporary or permanent resident visa. This is based on your assets, over the past year as proven by bank or investment account statements.
Temporary Resident Visa:
The temporary resident visa is intended for people who plan to live in Mexico for more than 180 days and less than four years.
The most common way is to apply based on monthly income, which for 2023, you have to show 62,232 pesos (around 2,730 USD) in monthly income for the last 6 months, depending on exchange rate fluctuations.
To qualify for temporary resident visas based on economic solvency, you will need to have had an average over the past year of or 1,037,200 pesos as an average balance in savings/ investments for the last 12 months, which is about 45,492 USD, in assets.
Permanent Resident Visa:
The permanent resident visa is meant for people who plan to live in Mexico for over four years.
For a Mexican permanent resident visa, the monthly income requirements are higher. You’ll need to prove 103,720 pesos (about 5,762 USD) in monthly income, or 4,148,880 pesos (about 230,493 USD) in savings / investments.
Please check the current exchange rate for your home currency as the rates do fluctuate, so the US$ and CA$ numbers above are probably going to be somewhat different.
Each consulate has their own criteria – the consulate makes the decision on whether to grant the visas based on the interview. So even if you technically meet the requirements, it’s not guaranteed. We’ve seen and heard of people who were surprised by additional requirements at the consulate, and we know of many whose process at the consulate was flawless. One couple in particular went to the Mexican Consulate office in Atlanta, and were even greeted by name in the parking lot, and got their Permanent Resident visa approval after just a 20-minute meeting with the consular officer in charge of visas.
What other options are there besides temporary and permanent resident visas?
Family Unity: If you have parents or children in Mexico, with residence, you can petition for family unity. One big advantage is that this process can be started in Mexico. You’ll need a birth certificate or a marriage certificate, depending on what your relationship is. The petition for family unity is not based on income, but based on the family relationship. Generally, approval takes about 3 months, more or less.
Citizenship: To become a Mexican citizen, in general you must have applied for and been granted a permanent resident visa. See more on this aspect of Mexican immigration law below.
Do you have to go to a consulate in your home country or can you go to consulates in other countries? It’s recommended to go to a consulate in your home country, though it can be done in other countries. Part of the reason is that you will often need to get your documents translated and apostilled, which costs more, and can take more time.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of temporary vs. permanent?
Advantages of a Temporary Resident Visa in Mexico: lower income/asset requirements, can have a foreign plated car in Mexico.
Disadvantages of a Temporary Resident Visa in Mexico: you will need to renew your visa periodically. With each renewal, there is a fee, so you will pay more to the government. The fees vary by the duration of your card, then after 4 years you can switch to permanent, at which point you have to start the process over again, which can take longer. 2020 fees are listed here – the left side of the graphic is the official Mexican government publication in Spanish, the right side is the same information that we’ve translated into English for you.
Renewal process: you can start your renewal process 30 days before the expiration date, up until the date of the expiration. If you miss the expiration date, it gets more expensive – and you would be an illegal alien if you don’t start the process by the expiration date.
Advantages of a Permanent Resident Visa in Mexico: Permanent resident visa holders can import household goods without having to pay an import fee and have them here permanently. There is also no need to renew or pay the associated renewal and legal fees as you would if you were renewing a temporary visa. Taking the Permanent Resident visa route results in a lower overall cost than paying for, and renewing, temporary visas.
Disadvantages of a Permanent Resident Visa in Mexico: you can’t own a foreign-plated car, and there are higher financial requirements up front.
What is the process like? How long does it usually take?
Once you apply for either a permanent or a temporary resident visa, you have 6 months to enter Mexico. Then once you are in Mexico, you have 30 days to submit your application to the Immigration office. The application doesn’t have to be approved within that 30 days; you just have to submit your application papers.
Why is it better to have an immigration attorney help you with the process?
An attorney has the knowledge of Mexican immigration law and the experience to make sure that you have all the requirements and don’t have to keep going back for more in case something is missing or incorrect. You can also save your valuable time. Many people who take the do-it-yourself route end up going back to the INM office multiple times, often due to missing one small component of the requirements, getting the wrong size photos (and even some of the photo centers located near the INM offices aren’t always clear on the requirements, particularly if it’s not a major part of their business), or any number of little things that end up taking hours upon hours. We at Easy Legal Mexico help people with visas all the time, and stay up to date on the exact requirements so as to make your visa / immigration process easy. We handle most of the work for you, and will arrange to meet you at the INM office when you actually need to be present, for example when you are fingerprinted.
Why Easy Legal Mexico instead of other law firms? Around 95% of Easy Legal Mexico’s clients are foreign nationals (expats, immigrants, whichever term you prefer), and we’re fully bilingual. We have set up our firm to help with the specific needs of people coming to and investing in Mexico. We’re also not some gigantic law office with many locations and the excessive overhead that goes along with that.
Why Easy Legal Mexico instead of other expat services who charge to help you with your visa? Sometimes you need a lawyer, not someone who acts like one. If something unexpected happens, you need real legal advice and you don’t want the hassle of having to scramble to find an attorney if you don’t already have one. Or you might find yourself paying a “broker” or “middle man” fee when it could be more economical if you just hire us directly. There are companies out there who “work with” lawyers to handle immigration and other matters, there are companies who are not experts in Mexican immigration law, and then there are real attorneys who do this day in, day out, and are legally approved to do so. Easy Legal Mexico can support you with whatever needs you have, whether planned or unplanned. We do every process legally and make it as easy as possible for you.
Which Mexican consulates are good and bad? While consulate staff is constantly changing, some consulates do tend to be easier in terms of wait time, processing time, and other factors. The Mexican Consulate offices in Atlanta and Denver tend to be very good. Consulates along the border are usually much more crowded and busy, so they may take more time. The same is true of particularly large cities – the consulates there are often overwhelmed. Bear in mind that with any changes, what works smoothly today may take more time tomorrow. Plan accordingly and be prepared for delays.
What else do I need to know to get my visa? Easy Legal Mexico’s phone number (+52 999 500 3191) and email address (email@example.com). That’s about all.
What are the requirements of Mexican citizenship? You’ll need two years as a resident if you have a Mexican child or spouse, will need 5 years residence otherwise. You’ll need a fairly high level of fluency in Spanish. People from Latin America or Spain only need two years’ residence. Applicants for naturalization / Mexican citizenship between the ages of 18 and 60 must pass an exam in order to be granted citizenship. You’ll need to pass a test that includes Mexican culture and history, Spanish language fluency, and you may need to be able to sing the Mexican National Anthem. Minors, those over 60 years of age, and refugees are exempt from having to take the exam; a basic grasp of Spanish conversation generally will suffice. A criminal background check is also needed, so if you’re a convicted felon it will be more difficult, if not impossible, to get Mexican citizenship. The citizenship process usually takes around 8 months or so. For other needs, contact us with specific questions.
Another important note is that Citizenship is an individual thing – for example, both spouses in a couple would need to pass the tests and earn their own citizenship. There is nothing like family unity visas for actual citizenship.