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Mexico Immigration for Tourists and Expatriates

Immigrating is a lengthy and stressful process. You need to know the Mexico immigration for tourists and expatriates requirements. Also, ensure that all your forms and other documentation are in order before you enter the country.

Retired expatriate in Durango Mexico enjoying a book at the Plaza de Armas or Cathedral Square

That’s why you need to understand the purpose of your stay. Are you becoming a permanent resident in Mexico? Will you be staying for a few months? Answering these types of questions will help you apply for the correct legal status as a tourist or expatriate in Mexico.

What Types of Immigration to Mexico Are There?

If you are planning to stay in Mexico for an extended period, you must know what type of legal immigration status you seek before you travel into the country. There are two main types of immigration permits: immigrant and non-immigrant.

Immigrant permits are for people who plan to live in Mexico. Maybe you’re moving there for work, to live with a family member or spouse, or any number of reasons that could require you to relocate. If you plan to live in Mexico for the foreseeable future (or longer than six months), you must get a permanent resident visa.

Non-immigrant permits are for those who plan to visit Mexico and then leave once their designated business—vacation, work, or otherwise—is finished. Within non-immigrant permits, you can get two types of visas: a visitor permit or a temporary resident visa.

Visitor permits are usually given to tourists who plan to say in Mexico for less than six months. However, if you plan to stay for more than six months, but less than four years, you need a temporary resident visa.

What is FMM?

A Forma Migratoria Múltiple, or FMM, is a document commonly known as a Mexican tourist card. The Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) issues these cards, and they are required if you plan to enter Mexico temporarily for any reason.

FMM Tourist Card

You can get an FMM at the Mexican border or via an online form. However, if you do get your FMM online, you still need to visit an INM office so they can stamp the card officially. To get your FMM, all you need is a valid passport or passport card.

With an FMM, you may only travel by land throughout Mexico. The cards are valid for up to six months, depending on how long you will be in the country.

What is Permanent Residency?

Permanent residency in Mexico is when you plan to live there indefinitely. You may want to retire, or you have found a job in Mexico. Regardless of your reason, permanent residency requires that you have a permanent resident visa.

INM Mexico Immigration Issues Permanent Residency

To get a permanent resident visa, you must meet at least one of these criteria:

  • You have family already living in Mexico
  • You lived in Mexico for four years as a temporary resident
  • Have lived in Mexico for two years as a temporary resident who holds a visa for marriage or Mexican National/former permanent resident status
  • Have residency via political asylum or as a humanitarian

While there was previously a requirement to meet a particular score on a Points System, there are currently no concrete details regarding the system or how to achieve that score.

How to Get Legal Status (Temporary or Permanent)

To get legal status of any kind, you must go through the proper channels. Start by filling out the forms that apply to your situation, whether you plan to stay in Mexico temporarily or permanently. The process from there will depend on the type of legal status you apply for.

You can get non-immigrant permits for a fee upon entering the country. If you are becoming a temporary resident, the process is more extensive. In this case, you get a one-year visa, which you can renew for up to three years afterward. This visa also determines whether you can work in Mexico or not.

For permanent legal status, your visa will need to specify your economic status as well as your purpose for living in Mexico. For example, if you intend to work in Mexico, your visa will be different from that of someone who has decided to retire in Mexico.

Online Forms

You can find most of the necessary application forms online. However, be aware that not all forms are the same, and you must complete the one that applies to your specific situation. You can find the ones mentioned in this article below:

If you find that you have trouble understanding Mexico immigration requirements for tourists and expatriates, it may be helpful for you to hire an immigration lawyer to guide you through the process.

For as long as you have your U.S. or Canadian citizenship, and maintain your U.S. or Canadian Drivers License you can continue to operate the U.S. or Canadian-registered vehicle in Mexico. And remember, even as a permanent resident or temporary resident you still must show proof of financial responsibility for operating your vehicle. Don’t worry, you don’t need duplicate insurance. You can maintain your U.S/Canadian registration without purchasing U.S. insurance. Simply read this blog post for details and instruction: “Preventing Duplicate Insurance in Mexico“.

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