How do I get or renew a Resident Card or Visa for Mexico?

By Jack E. George

Instituto Nacional de Migración - México

New Immigration Laws Took Effect November 9, 2012

Updates include:
  • The terms FM2 and FM3 have been replaced by Residente Temporal (Temporary Resident) and Residente Permanente (Permanent Resident)
  • To obtain a new resident (either temporary or permanent) card or visa - the process must be started at a Mexican Consulate in the U.S.
  • To renew a resident card or visa - the process may be done at INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración) offices in Mexico

Residente Temporal (Temporary Resident)

Residente Temporal covers a wide area of categories for people moving, or presently living in Mexico. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • People who have a job offer
  • A person who can prove their economic independence
  • People with a marital or common-law link to a Mexican citizen or a person who holds a temporary or permanent residency status
  • Other categories

You can complete the paperwork needed for this card, or, you can pay a professional to assist you with the process. In order to qualify for the Residente Temporal generally you must meet one of the following criteria:

Example in case of monthly income: The legal minimum wage in the Federal District for 2013 is $64.76 Pesos/day. When that amount is multiplied by 400 this is equivalent to $25,904 Pesos, or approximately U.S. $2,140.83 (based on $12.10 peso exchange rate). If you have a partner you are bringing to Mexico this will increase the amount by 50%.

If you do not meet the monthly income requirement you might use the "Point System." The points are based on a number of criteria including, but not limited to: your level of education, investments in Mexico, fluency in Spanish, or a number of other possibilities. Each type of criteria is assigned a certain number of points to assist in meeting the income requirement.

The cost for the Residente Temporal is presently U.S. $237 for one year (this is up from the previous cost of U.S. $110 for an FM-3 and U.S. $173 for an FM-2). Depending on the exchange rate the cost for this card is U.S. $380, for two years; U.S. $481, for three years; U.S. $571, for four years.

Residente Permanente (Permanent Resident)

If you intend to apply for a Residente Permanente card you can do so by meeting a number of criteria. These include, but are not limited to:
  • A retired person
  • Owning property worth a certain amount of money in Mexico
  • Possessing a certain amount of investments in Mexico
  • Other categories

As with the Residente Temporal you can hire an immigration specialist to assist with your paperwork; or, you can attempt to complete the paperwork on your own and then follow the governmental procedures. If you are applying for a Residente Permanente status you must prove an income of 20,000 days of the Mexican minimum wage in the Distrito Federal in investments (as described under Residente Temporal) or a monthly employment or pension income of 500 times the minimum wage. This equates to U.S. $2,676.00 per month of income for an individual; $4014.00 for a couple (based on a $12.10 Peso/Dollar exchange rate).

The fee for this visa is $3,815 pesos (U.S. $299.57 depending on the exchange rate). Again, as with the Residente Temporal, you might also be able to use ‘points.’

To Obtain a New Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente Card or Visa

If you are moving to Mexico, and plan to live there for more than 180 days, you must apply for a Residente Temporal or a Residente Permanente card. Both of these cards require that you first visit a Mexican Consulate in the United States to begin the process.
  1. At the Mexican Consulate - There are a number of documents you must present (please verify with authorities). These include, but are not limited to:
    • Passport and passport copies
    • Passport photos that meet the requirements
    • Proof of income - original and copies
    • Required fees

    At the consulate’s office it will be determined which of the cards you may apply for and you will fill out the application. This is mostly based on your monthly income.

  2. Visit an INM office in Mexico at the border - Once the consulate has given you the necessary paperwork you will then go to the border. It is necessary to obtain an FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple, aka Tourist Card) in order to remain legally in Mexico until your Resident card is ready. This FMM is only good for 30 days. If you do not have your completed paperwork processed and submitted to the government office within the 30 days you will be required to pay a fine as well as start over with the entire process.

If You Presently Have an FM-2 or an FM-3

If you presently have an FM-2 or an FM-3 these are valid only until the expiration date. It is important that you apply for your new Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente card prior to the expiration of your current card. It is advisable to visit your local INM office for the application requirements you need to prepare in advance. Some of those requirements may include, but are not limited to:

  • Current FM2 or FM3
  • Passport and passport copies
  • Passport photos that meet the requirements
  • Proof of income - original and copies
  • Required fees

Once you apply for the new document, in the future you will not have any association with an FM-2 or an FM-3 as they are no longer being used.

Further Information and Insight

It is extremely important to fully understand the new immigration laws for Mexico. The above information is very basic. Each of the cards offers additional requirements or various ways to meet these requirements. Also, there are variables which include such things as bringing a child to Mexico, if you own property in the country; if you have investments. When considering the law is very lengthy, without considering changes and updates, it becomes apparent that there is a lot to know. It is suggested you review one, or more, of the following websites for additional information:

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