While I traditionally have not written about the “mechanics” of making a successful move to Mexico on my blog–but rather the fun and adventure of life well lived here–I figured I’d share some (hopefully helpful) information about one of the most important pieces of of a multi-pieced immigration process: Mexico Visa Requirements & Process 2022
Financial Solvency: Temporary or Permanent Residency
One of the very first things you will want to do is to locate and read through the Visas for Foreigners Tab of your local Mexican Consulate’s website to determine whether or not you meet the financial solvency requirements.
The majority of Mexican Consulates these days are reserving the Permanent Residency exclusively for pensioned/retired individuals. Even if you meet or even exceed the financial requirements for Permanent Residency, it is unlikely that you will be granted it without being pensioned/retired and with Consulate-approved proof of it.
While your Consulate establishes the exact criteria that you will need to follow, this article by Mexperience is very informative: Financial Criteria for Legal Residency in Mexico 2022
Differences Between Consulates
Since each Mexican Consulate varies in the details relative to the application process itself, financials and authentication of documents, it is imperative that you clarify any uncertainties directly with the Consulate you will be working with.
Most Consulates provide an email for you to contact them via, and if not email, then a phone number. My recommendation is that if given the option between the two, email is best, so that you have a print record of any and all communications that you can then bring with you to your appointment.
*It is essential to follow the instructions of your Consulate to a T and if in doubt, contact them directly.*
With a continual uptick in folks wanting to move to Mexico, many Consulates are backlogged with limited appointment availability. It is best to prioritize this step and time it in relation to your move, for once you are granted your pre-authorized Visa, you need to be in Mexico within 6 months.
Each person needs their own appointment and for couples or individuals/families with children, ideally you will be able to schedule them all on the same day. For families with minor children, the parent(s) needs to have their appointments prior to those of the children, or, ideally and if allowed by the Consular Agent, all go in together during the same time slot.
Making Your Visa Appointment
Both the Temporary and Permanent Resident Visa applications must be started in your home country, with the second and final step of receiving your physical card to be completed at your local INM (immigration office) in Mexico.
Some Consulates request that you contact them via the email provided on their website while others are switching over to Mi Consulado/Citas de la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (citas.sre.gob.mx).
Some, for example, like the Mexican Consulate in New York, have their own internal booking system.
For those Consulates that are utilizing Mi Consulado, in the upper right-hand corner you should have the option to change the language to English. While this video is in Spanish, watching it several times should help to guide you through the process. The number 1-424-309-0009 is also provided by the Mexican government as an option for registering yourself in the Mi Consulado system and for making an appointment (# applicable to U.S. and Canadian clients only). I have also been successful in chatting with a Consular representative via the messenger feature on Facebook. Leave no stone unturned.
Keep a file of all the required paperwork, make more copies than you think you will need, be patient, follow the instructions to a T of your Consulate, and double and triple check that you have everything prepared according to your Consulate’s exact specifications prior to arriving for your application appointment(s).
Documents Required for Visa Appointment
Most Consulates require the following documents:
- Passport size photo; No hair on forehead, eyeglasses, hats, earrings or other facial piercings; no smiling. Front profile, color, white background. It’s best to wear white and the background must be white.
- The VISA has an approximate cost of $48 USD, paid in cash. It’s preferable to bring exact change.
- Example Mexican Consulate Visa Application (use your Consulate’s linked form) to be printed and completed, one per person. For question 21 “Length of Stay”, if you are applying for Temporary Residency, check inside the circle beside “More than 180 days and less than 4 years”. If you are applying for Permanent Residency, check inside the circle beside “Definitive”.
- Original & Valid Passport plus color copies of the pages containing personal information, photograph of bearer and expiration date/extensions.
- Financial proof ($$ amounts & proper documentation to be defined by your Consulate). Names must match exactly with your passport. Take as much proof of financials as possible. Your name must be on your financial statements and if a joint account, both names.
- Original and copies of marriage licenses when sponsoring a spouse or bank account is in both names. Whether or not the marriage license needs to be apostilled is to be defined by your Consulate. Carefully read through the information provided on the Consulate website and email/call them if clarification is needed.
- Some Consulates are no longer requiring birth certificates (usually only for minor children), but you will need to clarify this with your Consulate.
- Appointment confirmation form(s)–ONE FOR EACH APPLICANT
*specifics to be confirmed with your Consulate*
If any of your documents need to be apostilled per the stipulations of the Mexican Consulate you are applying at, go to the Secretary of State Website for the State the document was issued. You can find your Secretary of State at THIS LINK. For Federal apostille access, refer to THIS LINK to contact the U.S. Department of State Office of Authentications.
When you arrive at your Visa Interview Appointment(s) in a happy and patient mood 😀 you will be interviewed by a Consular Agent. He/she will review all of your documents and identification and ask you some basic questions as to the purpose and destination of your move. If all is satisfactory and in order, the agent will place a pre-approved 6-month Visa Sticker inside your passport. It will be valid for six months only and can be used to enter Mexico once.
Prior to Leaving Your Consulate Visa Appointment
Prior to leaving the Mexican Consulate, be sure to check your Pre-Approved Visa Sticker to ensure that your:
- gender is indicated correctly
- name is spelled correctly
- birthdate is accurate and
- type of Visa you have applied for–Temporary or Permanent–has been indicated correctly.
You Have Received Your Pre-Authorized Visa, What Now?
Once you have received your Pre-Authorized Visa Sticker in your passport (valid for 6 months and one entry) and you have arrived in Mexico at either a land or air border, you will need to ensure that both your pre-authorized Visa and your FMM are date stamped, with the grey, official-only sections (both top and bottom) of the FMM marked “CANJE and 30 days” (NOT TOURIST) by the immigration official as seen in this example:
The FMM is a 2-pieced form. The immigration agent will keep the top portion and give you the bottom portion for safe keeping; do not loose nor discard it.
INM (Immigration Office) Support Once in Mexico
After you have been pre-approved for your Residency Visa (6-month validity) and you have arrived in Mexico, you have 30 days in which to convert your pre-authorized Visa to your Residency Card.
For this second step of the Visa Process, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of–especially during these times of high demand & the navigation of government bureaucracy–connecting with a bilingual facilitator (does not need to be an attorney) in the area that you will be moving to. A reputable INM Liaison thoroughly understands the nuances of Mexico’s immigration law and is likely familiar with the immigration staff.
Can you do this second, INM part on your own? Sure. Do I recommend it? Not necessarily, unless you speak excellent Spanish and can navigate your way through immigration law. My family, for example, as 10-year bilingual Permanent Residents, have always contracted with our trusted INM liaison for both our initial residency cards in 2012 and each and every 4 year renewal for our children.
Working with an INM Facilitator will save you time, money and frustration and more importantly, ensure that the process of converting your CANJE to your Residency Card is done properly within 30 days of your arrival to Mexico. After so much time and money invested to get this far in the residency process, why risk having to return to the States to begin it all over again? I am able to provide a recommendation for an INM liaison in both the Puerto Vallarta and San Miguel de Allende areas.
Do Not Leave Mexico While Awaiting Your Residency Card
While you are waiting for your Temporary or Permanent Resident Card(s) to be issued from INM, you need to remain in Mexico. If you are not able to for some reason, you would need a permission letter from INM to leave Mexico–until you are granted your official residency card. If permission is granted (cost is around 500 pesos), you can be out of Mexico for a maximum of 60 days.
If you leave Mexico while your Visa is being processed without official permission from INM, you will compromise your legal status and have to begin the process all over again from your home Mexican Consulate.
Exiting/Entering Mexico Now as A Resident
Once you have your Temporary or Permanent Resident Visa Card, you are required by law to complete a FMM each time you leave Mexico.
At no time should you check “tourist” on the FMM.
Fill out the bottom portion of the FMM form which immigration will take upon your departure from Mexico and then keep the upper half to provide to immigration upon your return.
In box 8 enter your TR or PR visa card number from the back of your Visa Card. At the top of the FMM write “Temporary Resident” or “Permanent Resident”. When re-entering Mexico at an airport, go through the line used for non-citizens. Never have a color copy of your Residency Card, Driver’s License or any other Mexican government issued ID as it is considered fraud and there could be serious consequences.
How Long is a Temporary Visa Valid For?
A Temporary Resident Visa will initially be issued for 1 year. Up to 30 days prior to its expiration you may renew for 1 to 3 more years. Your expiration date will be on the anniversary of the day you entered Mexico.
After 4 years as a Temporary Resident, you can convert to a Permanent Resident within Mexico, applying as a renewal and adding an extra letter indicating it’s time to get your permanent residency. Your INM Liaison can easily assist you with this process. If you become a Permanent Resident, you must remove your foreign-plated car (or legally nationalize it) from Mexico as you won’t be able to get a TIP anymore.
Permanent Residence Status
With Permanent Residency, you never have to renew your card again, except for your minor children who would need to have theirs renewed every 4 years and then one final time after they turn 18 prior to the date of its expiration. With PR status, your car has to be Mexican via either purchasing one in Mexico or nationalizing yours if possible. Not all NOB (north of the border) cars can be nationalized and the process can be quite expensive.
While much more of a nuts and bolts article than I traditionally write, I do hope this information has been of help to you. The information is not exhaustive and there are many other types of Visas that one can obtain, depending on their particular circumstances, and as such, it is always best to consult with the Mexican Consulate directly.
*Disclaimer: I am not a Mexican Immigration Official nor Mexican Attorney, just a gal that has lived south of the border for 10 years and compiled this information from what I have seen, lived, studied and cross-referenced with the INM liaison I send my clients to* ☺️
*Protect yourself and your loved ones with Carbon Monoxide Detectors for both home and travel *