I moved to Mexico in August 2020. Between California’s lock down restrictions, social unrest and subsequent fires, I wasn’t alone in my move – an unprecedented exodus of Californians have moved out of the state this year as well.
I’ll admit, at the start of the year a move out of California wasn’t on my vision board lol. I’m so grateful though to now be living in Mexico. Immersing myself in the culture and improving my Spanish are two experiences that have been on my dream list for years. In addition to feeling deep gratitude for this experience, I feel safer and more free living in Mexico than I did living in the city of LA.
Over the years, I’ve traveled to Mexico on a number of occasions, including visits to a variety of towns and cities around the country. I’ve always loved spending time here. Mexico is blessed with a rich and diverse culture, delicious food and fascinating history. Like any place, Mexico has its challenges as well. However, for what I’m looking for Mexico is a top choice in places to live.
One of the first things I looked into after settling in to my new home in Mexico was how to make my stay more official with a temporary resident visa.
Why Get A Temporary Resident Visa for Mexico?
As a tourist, you can stay for up to six months in Mexico on a Tourist Visa. This is a really generous amount of time I think considering that in many other countries I’ve traveled, tourists are permitted to stay for a maximum of three months before having to leave to renew their tourist visa. In Mexico, you can stay for half the year.
Staying in Mexico for an extended time on a Tourist Visa is certainly an option for many people. A number of new friends I’ve met here have have lived in Mexico for years on a Tourist Visa. They stay for the six month time frame and just before it expires, leave the country for a couple days or longer and renew their Tourist Visa for an additional six month stay when they return.
With travel requirements continuing to change frequently these days as a result of the global “situation”, however, I wanted to make my stay here in Mexico a bit more permanent. I was also looking for a way to extend my stay legally without having to leave the country. It’s for this reason that I decided to look into getting a Temporary Resident Visa.
As a Temporary Resident, you can stay beyond six months and up to four years in Mexico.
Each year, you need to renew your Temporary Resident Visa by going to your local immigration office (INM) and paying the renewal fee. The good news is that you can renew your Temporary Resident Visa within Mexico without having to leave the country (unlike the Tourist Visa which requires you to leave the country).
With a Temporary Resident Visa, you can also:
- Purchase and register a Mexican-plated car
- Open a bank account
- Import household goods without duty
- Temporarily bring your U.S. plated vehicle into Mexico
- Have unrestricted/unlimited entry and exit at borders
- Obtain permanent residency after 4 Years
Temporary Residents cannot:
- Cannot directly own land close to border or beach (Must be placed in trust)
- Must inform immigration of local employment who will then grant permission
- No renewals after 4 years. You must become a Permanent Resident or leave.
Sound like something you may be interested in? If so, read on. : )
How To Get A Temporary Resident Visa for Mexico
Step One: Make an Appointment at a Mexican Consulate Outside of Mexico
Getting your Temporary Resident Visa for Mexico is a two-step process. The first step requires that you make an appointment at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico, preferably in your home country. As a U.S. citizen, I made an appointment with the Mexican consulate in Miami, Florida.
What are your options if you’re not able to or choose not to travel back to your home country to get your documents?
If you’re not able to travel to your home country for a visa appointment at a Mexican consulate or to get your documents officially certified, you’ll need to apply for a visa appointment at a Mexican consulate outside of your home country.
For example, if you are a British citizen and you want to apply at a consulate in the United States (instead of in UK), you’ll most likely need to get your documents certified with an Apostille stamp.
“Apostilles authenticate the seals and signatures of officials on public documents such as birth certificates, court orders, or any other document issued by a public authority so that they can be recognized in foreign countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty.” (source)
How Can You Get An Apostille Stamp (If Your Visa Appointment Is Not In Your Home Country)?
The easiest way to get your documents stamped with an Apostille seal is to do this in your home country. But of course, if you need an Apostille stamp in the first place, it’s likely because you are not able to travel to your home country. So, how do you get this special stamp for your documents?
This is where a bit of creative problem solving comes in. Please note that I didn’t actually need an Apostille stamp myself because I applied at a consulate in my home country. I want to offer suggestions here though that you may want to look into if you are in fact needing this special stamp.
First, I would look into whether any “Virtual Apostille” companies exist that serve your country. You may want to search for this online by searching for keywords like, “virtual Apostille + (your country here)”.
Here are some services I found, for example, that help British citizens to certify and stamp documents with an Apostille seal. Again, I haven’t used these services, as I did not need an Apostille myself. But if you are a British citizen and need an Apostille stamp, these services may be able to help.
Another option may be to ask a family member or trusted friend in your home country to get your documents verified with an Apostille stamp through an agency that offers this service. Once stamped, you can ask your family member or friend to send the official documents to you via DHL. You’ll receive a tracking code this way so you can keep tabs on where the documents are in transit.
Another option is to find out if your country’s embassy may be able to assist you with providing an Apostille service. I’ve read that some embassies do provide this service, so it’s worth looking into.
Financial Requirements for Temporary Resident Visa in Mexico
The main thing the representative at the Mexican consulate is interested in verifying is that you have all the required documents in order and can prove economically solvency.
You need to show that you have the funds needed to live in Mexico for an extended period of time. A temporary resident visa does not necessarily permit you to work. If you want to work in Mexico, you will need to apply for a work visa.
Note: All consulates are not the same: each consulate defines “economic solvency” differently according to their own estimates and interpretations, it’s a good idea to “shop” for consulates that best fit with your financial situation before requesting an appointment.
One consulate may require a higher income amount as proof of economic solvency compared to another consulate.
According to the Mexican consulate (Miami), you must choose one of following three options to prove economic solvency.
- Original and copy of proof of investment or bank accounts on a monthly average balance equivalent to five thousand days of general minimum wage in the Federal District ($34,000 USD), for the last twelve months; or,
- Original and copies of documents showing that has an employment: letter from the company where you work indicating employment position and seniority in that job, accompanied by payment vouchers or payroll /salary receipts. , equivalent of three hundred days of general minimum wage in the Federal District ($2,050 USD), for the Last six months: or
- Real Estate in Mexico. Original and copy of property deed or title awarded by a notary public attesting that the foreign person owns real estate, valued in excess of forty thousand days of general minimum wage in the Federal District ($274,000.00 USD).
Digital Nomads & Freelancers: The Mexican consulate wants to make sure you have the financial means to stay in the country without needing governmental support. If you choose to prove economic solvency via option #2 above, you’ll need to show that you have one solid client who you’ve worked with for at least six months and is paying you AT LEAST US $2,050 per month. Again, this is the required income according to the consulate in Miami for the 2020 calendar year.
You’ll need to ask your client to write you a letter stating the following:
- How long you’ve worked together
- The type of work you do for them
- How much they’ve paid you per month for the past six months
Alex at BackpackingBrunette shares her research on using Upwork as a reference: “If your client is paying you via a platform like Upwork, you can request a letter stating your earnings.”
What documents do you need to bring to your visa appointment?
- Appointment confirmation
- Visa form
- Passport (original & photocopy)
- Passport-sized color photograph (white background; 2×2 size; no jewelry/earrings/glasses)
- If you are not a U.S. citizen and are applying in the United States, you must bring your USA Visa or permanent resident card. If you not are US citizen must present a Copy of Stamp of entry to USA. This stamp is placed by US Immigration upon arrival in Miami. If you do not have this stamp, you must print and present the I-94 form of the USCBP Department (which contains your record of entries to the United States. Site: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/
home). on the day of your appointment.
- Payment method for visa fee ($40 USD)
- Proof of economic solvency (see above for details)
How long does it take to get approval for your Temporary Resident Visa?
My appointment was in the morning at 10am and took about 45 minutes. Once approved, the consulate representative looking over my documents told me to return to the office in the afternoon to pick up my passport with the approval sticker printed on it. (This sticker is not your actual visa – you still need to continue to Step Two below to actually receive your official Temporary Resident Visa permit card.) I returned at the specified time, picked up my passport with the visa approval freshly printed inside.
Step One in the process to get a Temporary Resident Visa was completed!
Next, go to Mexico.
You have up to 6 months to complete the Temporary Resident Visa process. Your next step is to go to Mexico. When you arrive in Mexico, fill out the FMM form you receive upon arrival in the airport.
Let the immigration officer at the airport or border know that you have approval for a Temporary Resident Visa. Be sure to show the page in your passport with the visa approval stamped on it. It is critical that the immigration officer sees this and gives you an entry visa that says “canje” and not “tourist” and writes 30 days on the FMM form instead of the usual 180 days for a tourist visa. If the immigration officer marks you as a “tourist”, it invalidates the entire process and you have to start over.
Once you enter Mexico, you will have 30 days to visit your local immigration office (INM or Instituto Nacional de Migración) to complete the Temporary Resident Visa process and get your permit card.
Step Two: Go to your local INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración) to complete the 2-step process and apply for your official Temporary Residency permit card through the canje process.
Once you arrive in Mexico, you have 30 days to go to your local immigration office to complete Step Two. It is the issuance of this permit card that makes your Temporary Resident Visa legal, not the possession of the visa sticker/stamp in your passport. If you don’t meet this 30-day deadline, your visa stamp becomes invalid and you will have to leave the country and start the process over again.
Step Two: Go to your local immigration office (IMN or Instituto Nacional de Migración). Print out these documents FIRST and bring them with you to the INM:
- 1. Tramite: Go to this website – https://inm.gob.mx/tramites/publico/estancia.html – fill in the form online, save this document as a PDF, print it out. It is a document stating why you want to enter the INM building and register with the system. The online document is in Spanish, so if you don’t speak Spanish be sure to get someone to translate for you or use an online translator.
- 2. Formato Básico. I want to thank Alex of BackPackingBrunette for this excellent tip: “For the section that says “Activdad en México,” don’t put anything related to working unless you have a letter of invitation from a Mexican employer.” In this space, I followed the suggestion shared by Cassie in Mexico and wrote, “Viviré en México de mis recursos provenientes de mi país” (I will live on funds earned in my home country whilst in Mexico). Do not try and be clever. Do not write anything else.” (Thanks, Cassie!)
- 3. Pago de Derechos & TWO copies. This is the payment form. You have to pay for your temporary resident permit at a bank BEFORE going to INM. Enter your information on this payment page, print out the PDF & take it to a bank.
- Tip: Make sure that your name on this form exactly matches your name on all other documents. I made the mistake of not including my middle name on this form (which was on all other forms) and had to leave INM and go to Office Depot to rent their computer to re-do this form with my full name, middle name included. Save yourself time and make sure your name is exactly the same as your passport and all other documents.)
- As of December 2020, the temporary resident permit card costs $4,271 MXN. This card is valid for one year, after which you can renew it three more times, giving you a total of four years as a temporary resident.
- The bank will print out a receipt for you. Ask the bank to make TWO COPIES of that, and bring the copies plus the original to INM.
- Passport & color copy of photo/signature page
- Visa (in your passport) & color copy
- FMM & color copy. Tip: Since you will give the original and color copy to the INM official, it’s a good idea to make an extra copy of the FMM for your own records as well.
- Three photographs “tipo infantil”
- Size 2.5×3 cm
- Two photos looking straight at the camera
- One photo of your right-side profile
- White background
- Forehead exposed
- No glasses
- No earrings
- Hair behind your ears
- Color photos are recommended
- I actually got my photos taken in San Miguel de Allende, but completed “Step #2” of this visa process at the INM office in Cuernavaca where they have their own system which includes taking the required photos on the spot as part of your visit. Because every INM office may have a different procedure and not all offices provide this photo service in person, it’s a good idea to bring these photos with you just in case you do need them.
How long does it take to receive your official Temporary Resident Permit Card?
At the INM office in Cuernavaca, I arrived at 9am when they opened and was able to get my permit card the same afternoon. In my case, it was a “same day” turnaround time to get the permit card. I’m really grateful it was such a fast process because I was told that at other INM offices around the country it can take up to two weeks or even longer. Every INM office has their own procedure and not all offices are equipped yet to process permit cards on the same day. So, be sure to check with your local office directly to find out the anticipated time frame.
I am not a lawyer, so be sure to do your own due diligence and use this info in my post here as a guide only. Make sure you double-check all documents you need at the time you apply on the official gob.mx web portal and directly with the consulate office and INM office you are visiting.
The info I’ve shared is based on my own personal experience and the documents needed at the time I applied (November/December 2020) in Miami and Cuernavaca. Requirements and immigration laws often change over time. In fact, I just received an email mentioning that income requirements will be increased in the new year 2021.
The financial amounts mentioned in this post, therefore, serve as a guide or estimate only. Be sure to contact the consulate you plan to visit directly to find out their unique requirements.
Wishing you all the best in your journey!
A BIG thank you to Alex, Cassie and Rachel for generously sharing their experience and time to help me navigate this process. Be sure to check out their blogs as well!