The following information is a brief overview of the legal / immigration / immigrating requirements for residency in Mexico or for working in Mexico.
How long are you planning to stay?
Once you have answered this question you then have to decide which of the following applies in your particular case. Due to the size of this article we have only included the information that may answer the most frequently asked questions about visas for Mexico.
A Brief Stay (less than 6 months), Visiting Mexico
Tourist Visa for Mexico:
The tourist visa or FMT is granted to those visiting Mexico for a period of up to six months. If you are already in the country and your visa was granted for a period shorter than six months, you can request an extension of the term. It is recommended you request this extension fifteen days prior to the expiration of your visa.
Where to get a Tourist Visa:
At any Mexican Consulate, a travel agency, at the border or when traveling by plane you will be provided with one, depending on your nationality.
How to fill it in
You will be asked to provide certain information such as your full name, place and date of birth, gender, destination, reason for your visit and so on. You will not have a problem filling in these blanks.
In case you would like to request the extension of your FMT
These are the DOCUMENTS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN HAND FOR THE PROCEDURE:
Your passport and a photocopy.
The original FMT
A letter requesting the extension of the term.
Things you should keep in mind
Upon returning to your country, you will have to return the FMT to the authorities. Keep it in a safe place so you don't lose it.
The tourist visa for Mexico does not allow you to work in the country.
Please note that certain nationalities have a restricted entrance to the country. In such cases you must be invited by a family member, a friend, or a corporation. Request the visa from the Mexican authorities. The visa will be granted as long as all the requirements are fulfilled.
Please refer to the information provided herein above.
Staying for More than 6 Months
What are you planning on doing here?
When you have decided you want to stay for extended periods of time or are thinking of immigrating to Mexico you may request from the authorities the corresponding immigration permits, which are the FM2 and the FM3.
As a holder of an FM3 you are allowed to stay in the country as a NON IMMIGRANT for a period of one year. This permit may be renewed annually. After the fifth year you may be interested in acquiring the next immigration status (IMMIGRANT) or simply continue as an FM3 holder.
This document applies to the IMMIGRANTS. As an immigrant you're not a permanent resident but you are eligible to apply to become an INMIGRADO (permanent resident - for residency in Mexico).
Advantages and Disadvantages of the FM2/FM3: Things you should consider.
FM3: As a NON IMMIGRANT you don't acquire residency rights.
FM3: You are entitled to leave and enter the country freely.
FM2: You must note that as an immigrant you have a restricted number of exits from the country. In the case that you leave the country for more than 18 months in a period of 5 years, you will not be able to apply for the INMIGRADO (permanent resident) status. In case you stay outside the country for more than 2 years you will lose the immigration status of an immigrant.
In both cases (as a IMMIGRANT and a NON-IMMIGRANT) the law considers almost the same immigration qualities (Características Migratorias), being able to perform almost the same lawful activities.
Both have to be renewed annually. We recommend that you take all the necessary precautions for the term not to expire. You should request the renewal 30 days before the expiration date.
Need Working Visas for Mexico? FM2 or FM3
You will need a permit granted by the ministry of Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación). To obtain one you will need to fulfill certain requirements.
According to Mexican Law, foreigners may only perform those activities expressly authorized by the Ministry. You are allowed to perform any activity as long as it's legal and honest. This includes the ability to work in the country.
Both as an FM2 or FM3 holder, you may be authorized to perform several activities. These are the most common:
Business or Investor (FM2 or FM3)
You may have considered investing in Mexico and therefore you wish to learn about possible investment options. Or, you might just come down to invest, supervise an investment, represent a foreign company or perform certain commercial activities.
As an INVESTOR: You must note that there is a minimum investment amount as well as the obligation to demonstrate that the investment is beneficial to the country's development.
Scientists and Techinicians (FM2 OR FM3)
In these categories you will have to provide all the documentation that proves to the satisfaction of the authorities that you have the skills and knowledge to perform these activities.
Professionals (FM2 OR FM3)
You will have to provide the authorities with all the papers that can prove you have the knowledge and skills to perform the specific professional activities. The applicant must demonstrate that the skills are not met in the workforce in Mexico.
High level management (FM2 OR FM3)
If you were appointed as a director to a company or to assume a key position you will need to obtain this immigration permit.
Members of the board (FM3)
When you need to attend to a board meeting of one or more corporations, this is the migration status you request to the Mexican authorities.
Staying in Mexico without working?
Students are admitted for periods of one year for as long as the course lasts. They may not leave the country for more than 120 days every year. Students have to prove to the authorities that they have a regular income to satisfy their needs. The status obtained when applying for the permit is that of a non-immigrant.
Retired (FM2 OR FM3)
If you have decided you want to live in Mexico without performing any specific activity you may acquire this immigration status as long as you can prove to the satisfaction of the Mexican authorities that you will live on the income brought from abroad or earned from Mexican-based investments.
What about the family?
Family members (FM2 OR FM3)
In such case you will have to provide the authorities with copies of your immigration papers, as well as information that proves your income.
Your family members may be able to work or perform any lawful and honest activity whatsoever if they obtain the corresponding permit. The immigration status would then change to any of the abovementioned ones.
Do I need immigration papers while staying in Mexico?
According to the Mexican Law all your immigration papers must be in force and the information in them contained must be updated during your stay in the country. In case they expire or the information is not provided to the authorities within 30 days of the event that modifies such information, you will be liable for fines and other penalties. It is highly recommended that you keep this in mind.
Is it hard to get these documents?
You may try doing it yourself. Yet, if you are not familiar with the paper work, the Mexican governmental offices, the bureaucracy and especially the language, it would be wise to ask for help.
How much does it cost to obtain my immigration papers?
Every procedure generates a cost. Rates change every six months and may be paid for at any bank in Mexico. You will have to fill in certain official forms to make the corresponding payments. These may be requested at any migration office or you can even buy them at a stationary store.
How long does it take to obtain my immigration papers?
Be ready to wait for approximately 30 working days before obtaining your immigration papers (FM-2 and FM-3).