Foreigners Working in Mexico

Visit any of the myriad social media groups dedicated to foreigners living or desiring to live in Mexico and the number one question is, “What about the safety level?” and number two, is “How can we earn a living in Mexico?”

Not a week goes by without an email (and sometimes many times per week) in which people ask about working in Mexico. The majority of people moving to Mexico are either from the USA or Canada and fail to understand that working in Mexico is quite different. Their dream is to quit their job as say, a computer programmer, pack everything up and move to Mexico, where they will continue to work in their field remotely, earn the same amount of money, but live on far less money, all while living in paradise.

They share a common belief that once they get their Mexican immigration paperwork in order, and acquire a work permit, they will be able to compete with Mexican citizens for jobs.

It becomes our task to inform them that there is a federal law in Mexico that states that they have to file tax returns on any income earned in Mexico, and there is another law that places them at a disadvantage of living out their dream in Mexico.

Federal Labor Law

The Federal Labor Law (La Ley Federal de Trabajo) requires all employers (whether owned by a Mexican or a foreigner) to give preferential treatment to Mexicans.

Article 7

  • In every business or establishment, at least 90% of the workers must be Mexican or naturalized Mexican Citizens.
  • The 90% rule does not apply to directors, administrators, and general managers.
  • In the technical and professional categories, all workers should be Mexican or naturalized Mexican Citizens.
  • All medical doctors who work for companies in Mexico must be Mexican nationals or naturalized Mexican Citizens.

There is a provision, that if there are not any Mexicans available with that specialty, in which case, the company can temporarily hire foreign workers in a percentage that doesn’t exceed 10% of workers with that specialty. However, any foreign workers that are hired must then train Mexican workers in that specialty to replace the foreign workers.

Article 154

  • Once hired, employers are required to select Mexicans over non-Mexicans for positions and promotions when they are similarly qualified.

As you can see, Mexico is very pro-labor and very pro-Mexican. Unlike their neighbors to the north, they have laws in place that can make it difficult for a foreigner to acquire work that competes with the Mexican labor force. The bottom line is that foreigners must respect the laws of Mexico if they choose to live in the country. Obviously, if you want to make Mexico your home and be able to work in Mexico, it would be best to become a Naturalized Mexican Citizen.

See Related Article: Expat Taxes Due in Mexico

Becoming a Naturalized Mexican Citizen (Dual Citizenship)

The immigration process for foreigners who have no intention of returning to their country of origin is Citizenship by Naturalization. Most countries do not force you to give up your original citizenship or birth passport, allowing for dual citizenship.

The citizenship process in Mexico is managed by the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE). There are several methods of naturalizing in Mexico it may be acquired by meeting residency timelines, cultural integration, or marriage and family ties.

Because of the lengthy process and ever-changing rules and obligations of obtaining Mexican citizenship hiring an immigration specialist is recommended.

To apply for citizenship in Mexico, you must already be a permanent resident; or have family ties. Naturalization in Mexico requires a minimum of five consecutive years of residency prior to the application date, which may include temporary or permanent status depending on your situation.

Two years legal residency if you are married to a Mexican or you have a child born in Mexico.

The process includes a criminal background check, a trip to Mexico City and proof that you have a basic conversational level of Spanish, you know the history of the country and have integrated into the national culture. There will be a test about culture and history, although if you are over 60 years old, you may only be required to have an interview.

Mexican naturalization offers several benefits to foreigners, including:

  • Buying property in restricted areas in your name without the need of a trust (fideicomiso)
  • The possibility of dissolving a trust (fideicomiso) and having the title deed in your name and avoiding trust annual and renewal fees.
  • The right to vote in Mexico.
  • No need to inform the National Institute of Immigration (INM) of every address or job change.
  • The right to earn an income, greater employment and entrepreneur options as a citizen.
  • Avoid change and renewal fees of your immigration status each year.

Points to Consider About Gaining Mexican Citizenship:

  • Check with your country of citizenship, do they allow dual citizenship?
  • Once you become a Naturalized citizen of Mexico, should you encounter issues with Mexican authorities you may no longer rely on your home country’s consulate. You will be treated as a Mexican citizen.
  • Consult a financial advisor in your home country about the implications on your business and personal taxes if you become a dual citizen.