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The new Mexican visa rules

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The Secretaría de Gobernación released the guidelines for the immigration process today. Honestly, I am a little disappointed by some of the requirements: some may make it harder for foreigners to live, work and retire in Mexico. I want to believe that these guidelines are temporary and will be adjusted over time to encourage foreign investment in Mexico, but we shall see.

Here is a very general idea of how the new immigration process is going to work, I’ll probably publish more in depth articles over time and as I get practical experience.

Getting a new immigration document

If you don’t have an FM3 or FM2 (No-Inmigrante or Inmigrante) in your hand or in process before November 9th of 2012 and you want residency in Mexico, you will have to ask for it using the new immigration rules that have been published in relation to the Ley de Migración of May 25, 2011. The big change in these immigration rules, apart from the names of the immigration documents (which in my opinion, really are very superficial changes), is that in most cases you will no longer be able to change from a “tourist” to a “resident” while in Mexico.

If you come from one of the countries that Mexico has agreed does not need a “visa” for entry, you will still need to go the nearest Mexican Consulate in order to pre-process the following types of immigration documents (which are now called “visas”):

1. Temporary Residency for students

2. Temporary Residency for people not planning on working while in Mexico

3. Permanent Residency for people not planning on working while in Mexico

The process for any of these documents is simple enough, but I am going to deal with only the last two hypotheses in this article.

People who plan on living in Mexico and not working

If you are going to live in Mexico and plan on not working, you are going to need to prove that you have enough money to eat, pay rent and go fishing. To get the “visa” to live in Mexico for an extended period of time and not work, you will need to go to the Mexican Consulate nearest you with the following:

Identification documents

  1. Passport
  2. A color, passport sized photo (1.5″ x 1″)
  3. The document showing your legal presence in the country you are in, IF you are not a citizen of that country

Temporary Residents

  • Original and copy of proof of investments or bank accounts with an average worth over the previous year equivalent to $95,000.00 USD;
  • Original and copy of documents that prove that the foreigner has had for the previous six months an income from a job (outside of Mexico) or a pension that pays at least $1,950.00 USD per month;
  • Proof of a any familiar bond with another Temporary or Permanent Resident or a marital (or equivalent) bond with a Mexican;
  • Original and copy of a notarized public deed showing ownership (or trust rights) to a property in Mexico worth at least $195,000.00 USD;
  • Proof of participation of at least $100,000.00 USD in a Mexican company;
  • Proof of ownership in heavy equipment or machinery in Mexico worth more than $100,000.00 USD; OR
  • Proof of doing business in Mexico and legally creating at least 5 jobs for Mexicans.

Please make sure to note the OR in that previous list! Any one of the requirements in that list, or the following list, will be sufficient to obtain a “visa”. Also, these are the requirements for people who are planning on NOT WORKING while in Mexico, the process for people going to Mexico to work are different and will be covered later.

Permanent Resident

    • Original and copy of proof of investments or bank accounts with an average worth over the previous year equivalent to $95,000.00 USD;
    • Original and copy of documents that prove that the foreigner has had for the previous six months an income from a job (outside of Mexico) or a pension that pays at least $2,400.00 USD per month;
    • Proof of parent-child bond with a Mexican citizen by birth (this would be birth certificates of everyone involved, plus any other documents proving the citizenship of the Mexican citizen);
    • Proof of the same parent-child bond with another Permanent Resident; OR
    • Proof that you have enough points (based on a points system that still hasn’t been published).

How long will this take?

That is a great question, and one that I hate to ever answer (mañana). Fortunately for you, I think the new process will be fairly fast. The law requires that the consular visa applications be resolved within 10 days of when you submit them, hopefully this will be the case.

I have my Residency “visa”, how do I get my Residency card?

Come to Mexico. Once you get into Mexico you will have another 30 days to take your “visa” to the nearest Immigration Institute office and they will help you with the process of changing the “visa” into a residency card (see below).

What do I need to take to the Immigration office?

To change your non-working “visa” for a Residency card, you will need to take a few things with you to the immigration office:

      1. The form that you will fill out online
      2. Your passport
      3. Your FMM (the tourist card you get when you enter Mexico)
      4. Receipt of payment of the corresponding fees
      5. Three color photos, “infantil” sized (2.5cm x 3cm)

Once you bring all this paperwork into Immigration, the process is supposed to take only 15 days. I’d guess that for the next couple of months, while everyone is getting used to the new system, it might take a little longer.

This concludes today’s installment of, please tune in later on in the week for the next installment of this series: Working in Mexico under the new Immigration Law. I will try to publish that article in the next couple of days.

Source: Our thanks to the author of this excellent article, Solomon Freimuth, an American lawyer working in Mexico.

Contact information: Call from the United States or Canada 1-800-895-0968 from inside Mexico 01-984-148-1003, website is,



1 comment to The new Mexican visa rules

  • Alan


    I just read the topic and only found one item that was incorrect and one item that was not mentioned.

    I was on a FMM tourist 180 day card and did my Residente Temporal application in Central Mexico and did not need to go to a Mexican Consulate. I did it on Nov. 14th. It took 2 months at that time. No financial solvency required. This is only for foreigners married to Mexican Nationals. [Vinculo Familiar Law in the SEGOB INM rules]

    I also did have to be on a Residente Temporal visa/card for 2 years not a Residente Permanente as that Law does actual state is possible. We were married for 3 years at that time.

    I then went to Residente Temporal non working visa/card to Residente Temporal working visa/card called Permiso para Trabajar in Central mexico. This took 2 weeks in the end of Feb. and the cost was about $275 US more.

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