Getting Your Mexican Visa

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How To Apply For a Mexican Resident Card For The First Time

The following article outlines the necessary steps that must be taken by foreigners who intend to live in Mexico (for non-lucrative purposes) to obtain a temporary or permanent resident card for the first time.

This process starts at a Mexican Consulate and finishes in Mexico by doing something called canje (exchange in English) at the Immigration Institute. Through the canje, foreigners who hold a Mexican VISA in their passports, granted by a Mexican consulate, apply at the Immigration Institute for a resident CARD of the same characteristics as the VISA given at the Consulate.

Here is the detailed process divided in two main steps:

Requesting Visa at a Mexican Consultate

Applying for the visa

Submit the following documents:

    • Online form, which is available at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website www.sre.gob.mx as well as at any Mexican Consulate. This form must have the signature of the applicant. In case of minors, the person signing must be the parent or guardian.
    • Original and copy of passport or other valid identity and travel document.
    • One frontal picture (passport size, minimum: 3.2 cm x 2.6 and maximum: 3.9 cm x 3.1 cm) in color with white background. Applicant must not be wearing glasses or earrings in the photo and hair must be behind the ears. Pictures should be taken in a specialized photography studio. Polaroid or cellular phone pictures will not be accepted.
    • Payment of the VISA fees: approximately 40 USD.

Temporary Resident Visa (TR)

Your Temporary Resident Visa begins with a pre-approval at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico. Once a pre-approved Temporary Resident visa is issued you have 6 months to enter Mexico. Once you enter Mexico you have 30 days to continue your visa process at a local INM office.

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, the visa takes typically 6 – 8 weeks to process. There are several steps including on-line forms, photos, bank payment, several copies, finger prints after approximately 3-4  weeks, etc.

The visa will be issued for 1 year and up to one month before expiration you may renew for 3 more years. After 4 years you become a Permanent Resident. A foreign plated car is allowed. One can not earn income as a TR.

Proving home ownership in Mexico will also be given credit when applying. The amounts vary based on exchange rates (examples here using 19 pesos to 1 USD) and consulate’s vary. Prior to going to a Mexican consulate please complete and take the consulate application. You can’t earn Mexican sourced income as Temporary Resident; however, you may earn income from outside of Mexico.

The amounts are per person. Consulates vary and may use different numbers taking into account exchange rates but many will not.
 The amount in USD varies with the exchange rate, but in the examples below, we used the current 19.07 pesos to $1 USD rate.

Investments ~$21,000 USD with 12 months of individual statements (equivalent to 5000 X daily minimum wage of 80.04 pesos), or

Monthly income ~$1,259 USD employment or pension source showing 6 months of bank statements (300 X daily minimum wage of 80.04 pesos), or

Home ownership in Mexico with a value of approximately $167,872 USD (3,201,600 pesos (40,000 x daily minimum wage of 80.04 pesos)

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.

      • Original and copy of statements as proof of investments or statements of bank accounts with a monthly average balance equivalent to 5000 days of general minimum wage in Mexico City (73.04 MXP for 2016), approximately $19,148 USD for the past twelve months (considering a rate of exchange of 19.07 pesos to $1 USD).

OR

  • Original and copy of bank statements with a monthly income or pension (free of liens) greater than the equivalent of three hundred days of general minimum wage in Mexico City (73.04 MXP for 2016), approximately $1,149 USD for the past six months (considering a rate of exchange of 19.07 pesos to $1 USD).

Permanent Residency

The Permanent Resident Visa also begins with a pre-approval as above and process is same as a Temporary Resident visa but it is as name implies, permanent. It is worth mentioning that only pensioners can apply for the Permanent Resident VISA without having the Temporary Resident VISA first.

One may work as a Permanent Resident but must inform INM. A foreign plated car is not allowed. If you have brought a foreign plated car into Mexico you will need to have it Nationalized.

Proving home ownership in Mexico will also be given credit when applying for pre-approval at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico.

The amounts given her 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 living in Mexico, you may become a Permanent Resident at any time in less than 4 years. To do so, you must prove ~$2500 per month of only pension-sourced income; no other form of income, investments nor home ownership will be considered.

Investments  ~$83,936 USD with 12 months of individual statements (20,0000 X daily minimum wage of 80.04 pesos = $1,600,800), or

Monthly income of ~$2,098 USD pension source only and by showing 6 months of individual bank statements (500 X daily minimum wage of 80.04 pesos = $40,020)

Again, it is worth mentioning that only pensioners can apply for the Permanent Resident VISA without having the Temporary Resident VISA first.

Interview

In an interview with an officer of the Mexican Consulate, the applicant will be asked to provide information such as personal data, purpose of the trip and any other relevant. During the interview, the officer will analyze the information and documents received and will authorize or deny the VISA.

Printing the visa in the applicant’s passport

The VISA will be issued within the following 10 working days and will be valid for 180 days and just for 1 entry to Mexico. Once the applicant is in Mexico, he/she has 30 days to start the canje application as follows:

  1. REQUESTING YOUR RESIDENT CARD AT THE IMMIGRATION INSTITUTE

 Canje application

Submit the following documents:

  • Letter requesting the canje of the VISA.
  • Original and copy of the passport.
  • FMM form, provided at the port of entry, marked as canje for 30 days.
  • Formato básico (“basic form” in English), which will be given at the Immigration Institute, and filled out by the applicant.
  • Payment of Immigration fees:

TEMPORARY RESIDENT: $188.55 USD ($3,596 pesos) for one year.

The canje procedure only allows the applicant to obtain a one year resident card. The next year when the applicant renews it, he/she can request a 1, 2 or 3 years card.

PERMANENT RESIDENT: $229.82 ($4,383 pesos) for one year.

NOTE: in order to make the payments, an Immigration officer will provide an E5 form to the applicant and with it the applicant can go to any bank to make the payment and then return to the Immigration office with the receipt.

Follow the procedure

Once the applicant has submitted at the Immigration Institute all the documents mentioned above, he/she will receive a document with two numbers (one is called “NUT” and other is called pieza) and a password; these numbers will help the applicant to follow up on his/her procedure online at:

https://www.inm.gob.mx/tramites/publico/seguimiento-tramite.html

The applicant can follow the status of his/her application and when a note saying Registre los datos para la expedición de su documento migratorio shows, that will mean that the canje has been approved.

The time frame of this to happen is between 10 to 15 working days, starting from the day that the documents were submitted until the day of the approval.

Appointment

Once the procedure has been approved, the applicant must go the Immigration Institute to request an appointment. On the day of the appointment, the applicant must be at the Immigration Institute 10 minutes before and must bring 3 pictures as follow:

Three color photos with white background, infant size (2.5 x 3 cm):

  • Two photos taken from the front.
  • One photo taken from the right profile.
  • Applicant must not be wearing glasses or earrings in the photo and hair must be behind the ears.
  • Pictures should be taken in a specialized photography studio. Polaroid or cellular phone pictures will not be accepted.

In this appointment the applicant will sign some documents and have his/her fingerprints taken.

Resident Card ready

After the appointment, the card will be printed at the Immigration office and be ready for pick up approximately 1 week after.

Note

Once you have a Temporary or Permanent Resident Visa at no time should you enter Mexico with a FMM tourist card. You may then be re-classified as a tourist and to start the residency process over at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico.

Never make a color copy of your visa, driver’s license or any other Mexican government issued ID. This is considered counterfeiting or fraud and can have serious consequences.

In Mexico, when not far from home, there is no need to carry your visa. You can keep a photo of your visa in your phone and it will accepted by most officials.

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G. William Hood is a writer, fine arts painter, educator and world traveler. He lives in Cuernavaca with his pet cockatiel, Pepe.