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Overview of Mexico Immigration Law & Visitor Visas
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Prior to May 2011, Mexico's immigration traffic in and out of the country was regulated by the outdated and highly restrictive General Law of Population of 1970. However, since Mexico has had its own illegal immigration problems over the years, one of the primary objectives of Felipe Calderon Hinojosa during his Presidency of 2006 - 2012 was to dramatically revise and modernize Mexico's immigration policies and processes. Chief among President Calderon's goals of Immigration Reform were to ~



1) indicate with clarity the powers of immigration officers, thus removing
much of their discretionary powers (as well as potential for corruption and graft)

2) provide human rights guarantees to all who enter Mexico be it legally
or illegally, foreigner or Mexican

3) be in compliance with international conventions and treaties
as well as with directives set forth in Mexico´s Carta Magna.



President Calderon and Mexican legislators worked long and hard on the complicated legislation package. Many months of discussions and writing where done so as to not only implement new rules but also to abolish and modify other laws and Bylaws related to Immigration Laws so as to minimize confusion and conflicts.

On May 25th 2011 the new Law called “Ley de Migracion” (Immigration Law) was published in the Federal Official Gazette of the Federation called “Diario Oficial de la Federación.” Normally when Federal legislation is published in the Official Gazette, it becomes Law 30 days after the date of publication but only if the “Reglamentos” (Bylaws) are in effect. Since the Bylaws were a bit delayed in coming out of legislative approval, parts of the new Law became effective then on June 25, 2011 but other parts remained inoperative until November 11, 2012. These delays in the implementation of the new Immigration Laws are largely what created the extended period of confusion that has existed now for a couple of years with regard to the effects of the Laws and the new processes required to legally enter and stay in Mexico for extended periods of time. Fortunately for everyone, Mexican Immigration is now coping very well with its new directives which are much more liberal in granting access to the country and much less discretionary in their application.

All New Immigration Laws became effective November 11, 2012



All Immigration Law information provided here is GENERAL and may vary by Country and individual case. Please consult your local Mexican Consulate for personalized information regarding your particular case.

Mexico's new Immigration Laws essentially specify 3 basic VISA categories now for foreigners entering Mexico.
These Mexican Visas grant a foreigner permission to enter the country.
All persons entering Mexico REGARDLESS of VISA category, will complete the new FMM (Migratory Multiple Form) format upon arrival at an entry point.


Visa Type -Tourist/Visitor Visa (FMM)

A Tourist/Visitor Visa (FMM) for Mexico is applied for and approved using the FMM (Migratory Multiple Form) format formerly known as Tourist/Visitor Visa Card. When entering Mexico by walking, driving or flying visitors will be given the FMM form for completion and submission to an Immigration Officer for review and to apply the stamp of Immigration approval.

For Canadian and U.S. Citizens, obtaining a Tourist/Visitor Visa (FMM) requires:
1) A valid Passport
2) Payment of the visa fee (typically included in airfare)
3) Completion and approval of the FMM application
4) Once stamped as approved, the FMM document is evidence that a foreigner in Mexico holds a valid Tourist/Visitor Visa so DO NOT LOSE IT.

Tourist/Visitor Visa (FMM) Stipulations:
1) Will only be issued for length of stay with a maximum of 180 days
2) Can provide NO AUTHORIZATION for work activities
3) No renewals are available. Upon expiration, visitors must leave the territory of Mexico and re-enter / reapply
4) Approval must be acquired at the point of entry (NOT in advance via Consulate)
5) Holders may be required to produce proof of immigration documents to Immigration and FEDERAL police at any time on request


Visa Type - “Residente Temporal” Visa

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Recall that the old FM-3 and FM-2 in the booklet format disappeared and was replaced by an ID card format called the “NO INMIGRADO” (Non Immigrant) Visa. This nomenclature has since been eliminated and this card is now called “Residente Temporal” (Temporary Resident). This Mexican Visa type can be applied for as one, two, three or a 4 year timeframe if one does not want to bother with the annual renewal process. The holder of such Visa will be able to be remunerated for work if offered a job. The new Law also stipulates that his children, wife or concubine (must be of different gender) and/or parents will also be able to work and be able to bring with them their movable household goods as per the Mexican Customs laws governing such movements.

Types of “Residente Temporal” Visas
1) Visitor with temporary residence (non-working)
2) Visitor with permission to get remunerated for work
3) Visitor with temporary residence to study
4) Visitor to realize an adoption

Section 138 of the new Immigration Bylaws sets forth the essential conditions one can or needs to meet in order to be able to qualify for the “Residente Temporal” (Temporary Resident) Mexican Visa:

1) Have a familial link with a Mexican citizen or foreign resident already possessing a “Residente Temporal” (Temporary Resident) Visa or a “Residente Permanente” (Permanent Resident) Visa. Accepting applicants with this link enforces the hypotheses set forth in Articles 55 and 56 of the new Immigration Law whereby keeping family units together is an important element of integrating foreigners into Mexican society.
2) Be invited to work (i.e. work is possible with correct application)
3) Be registered as a tax payer, holding an RFC (Federal Registry of who Contributes taxes)
4) Be invited by a recognized, credible organization or public institution within Mexico to take part in some activity whereby income is not received
5) Have sufficient economic solvency to cover housing and subsistence expenses during his or her stay in Mexico
6) Be an owner of a real estate property with value equivalent to the amounts as set forth in the General Administrative Regulations that are issued by the Secretary which will be published in the Official Diary of the Federation
7) Have investments in México consisting of:
a) Captial Participation a formalized of Mexican Mercantile Societies such as stock ownership or capital contributions or partnership interests
b) Personal movable goods or fixed assets used for economic or managerial purposes
c) Development of economic or managerial activities in Mexico



This is VERY important!!
Recall that under the OLD Immigration Laws, a foreigner could enter Mexico receiving a 180 day Tourist Visa and then once inside Mexico, apply for the FM-3 or FM2 type Visa if work or extended stay was desired.
This is no longer possible under the new Immigration Laws.

Since there is no "migrating or moving" to a different type of Mexican Visa, all new, first time “Residente Temporal” (Temporary Resident) Visa applications must be submitted to a Mexican Consulate outside of Mexico. Exceptions to this rule are made only for 1) humanitarian cases and 2) those of kin to Mexican citizens. Please visit the nearest Consulate to you in your country and ask for the “Residente Temporal” (Temporary Resident) requirements there. The requirements in each country will vary as will the procedures between each Consulate somewhat.

“Residente Temporal” Visa Stipulations:
1) Will only be issued for length of stay with a maximum of 4 years
2) Allows for unlimited entries into and exits from Mexico.
3) Renewal of the “Residente Temporal” Visa must be done within 30 days from the expiry date.
4) In the event that the “Residente Temporal” Visa expires while a foreigner is out of Mexico he will be able to enter Mexico with the expired document as long as it is within 55 days from the expiry date. Upon return, the foreigner has 5 days to submit a renewal application. If these timeframes are exceeded the Visa document loses all validity.
5) When a foreigner has a “Residente Temporal” Visa obtained as permission to work, the Visa will be valid only during the time the employment lasts.
6) Children under the age of 3 can only have a “Residente Temporal” Visa for a period of one year.
7) A foreigner may remain in “Residente Temporal” staus for up to 4 years after which he/she must obtain a “Residente Permanente” Visa or abandon the country.
8) The above requirements are subject to constant evaluation by the Executive and Legislative branches and any changes or modifications will be published in the official daily federal gazette.

Visa Type - “Residente Permanente” Visa

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Recall that the old “INMIGRATO” (Landed Immigrant) Visa in the booklet format disappeared and was replaced by an ID card format called the “INMIGRANTE” (Immigrant) Visa. This nomenclature has since been eliminated and is now called “Residente Permanente” (Permanent Resident). This Visa permits the holder to live in Mexico as a permanent resident with the Right to work for remuneration. The faculties of importing movable goods are possible and not only the persons listed in article 52. VII. will be able to be with the Visa holder but also brothers and sisters who are minors and not married.

Section 139 of the new Immigration Bylaws sets forth the essential conditions one can or needs to meet in order to be able to qualify for the “Residente Permanente” (Permanent Resident) Mexican Visa:

1) Be recognized by Mexican law as a refugee.
2) To have kinship on a straight ascending or descending line up to the second degree with a Mexican born citizen.
3) Have a familial link with a Mexican citizen or foreign resident already possessing a “Residente Premanente” (Permanent Resident) Visa. Accepting applicants with this link enforces the hypotheses set forth in Articles 55 and 56 of the new Immigration Law whereby keeping family units together is an important element of integrating foreigners into Mexican society.
4) Be a pensioner with sufficient monthly income for their subsistence during his or her stay in the national territory
5) Fits in a certain category and obtains the minimal points needed by the Point System, in conformity with the guidelines set forth in the General Administrative Regulations that are issued by the Secretary which will be published in the Official Diary of the Federation. (See Note 2 below)
6) Be a “Residente Temporal” (Temporary Resident) Visa holder for 4 consecutive years
7) Have a “Residente Temporal” (Temporary Resident) Visa for 2 consecutive years when said permit was granted because of been married or living with a concubine or equivalent form with a Mexican or Permanent Resident and that the relation is active.

“Residente Premanente” Stipulations:
1) Will be issued for an unlimited length of stay and allows for unlimited entries into and exits from Mexico.
2) The Right to Work is implicit in this Visa type.
3) The Right to Family Unity is implicit and the holder may petition for family members.
4) As of this writing, the "Point System" has not yet been defined for use in order to qualify a person as a candidate for an Permanent Resident Visa.
5) The above requirements are subject to constant evaluation by the Executive and Legislative branches and any changes or modifications will be published in the official daily federal gazette.


In Conclusion ~

Some of the most significant principles of this new Immigration Law package deal with the rights of migrants. The new law guarantees that foreigners and Mexican nationals will receive equal treatment under Mexican law. Under this principle all immigrants, regardless of status, are granted the right to access education and health services. In addition, mechanisms aimed at promoting family unity are now in place. Moreover, before the government takes action (e.g. deportation) with respect to migrant children and other vulnerable individuals (women, seniors, the handicapped and victims of crime) their specific needs must be prioritized and adequate services must be provided. Migrants are also granted judicial rights that they previously lacked, such as the right to due process. In addition, the law also calls for establishing a Center for Trust Evaluation and Control which will be charged with the task of training and certifying immigration personnel in hopes of curtailing corruption practices. All Institute of Migration officials are to meet the same standards as the rest of the country's security agencies. Government officials found to be in violation of this law are now subject to stiff penalties, including monetary fines and hard time behind bars.

With the Mexican government’s intent to control migration flows and attract foreigners who can contribute to economic development, the new migration law simplifies foreigners’ entrance and residence requirements. Mainly, it replaces the two large immigration categories - immigrant and nonimmigrant - that existed under the old laws with the categories of “visitor,” “temporary resident” and “permanent resident.

Also in the past, under the General Law of Population of 1970, the two categories incorporated over 30 different types of foreigners. Classifications such as distinguished visitor, religious minister, etc. and each had its own stipulations and requirements to qualify for entry and stay. Under the new Immigration Law the requirements are simplified, basically differentiating those foreigners who are allowed to work and those who are not. The new laws also expedite the permanent resident application process for retirees and other foreigners. For granting permanent residency, the new laws provide for using a Point System based on factors such as level of education, employment experience, and scientific and technological knowledge.

DISCLAIMER
The information provided above constitutes an OVERVIEW of some of the BASIC Mexican Immigration Law changes that have taken place in 2011 - 2012 and most assuredly revisions and modifications will continue to be implemented in years ahead. This overview is intended to be INFORMATIONAL ONLY and not a substitute for legal counsel nor is it a representation of any legal knowledge or application abilities. Each individual has different circumstances and goals when going to Mexico so seeking an Immigration Law attorney in your area for advice can be invaluable in the process of obtaining a “Residente Temporal” Visa or “Residente Permanente” Visa.


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