If you want to move to Mexico because you love the active beach lifestyle, you’ve met a like-minded community, you have discovered the amazing food and want to travel more in Mexico to explore all it has to offer, you will need a visa if you plan on staying more than 6 months.
For many years, if you were staying 6 months or less, you could easily enter Mexico and be granted a tourist visa for 180 days. While this is still the official rule, the reality is that immigration agents are granting less time now or are requiring proof of your intentions, reservations and return flight. The amount of time you are given upon entry into Mexico is at the complete discretion of the immigration officer. If you are regularly coming to Mexico or wish to stay for a long period of time, you should just get your visa. It is a straightforward process and once it’s done, you can relax.
Last month, we covered how to get a temporary resident permit. This temporary permit, renewable for up to 4 years, is designed for people who have a monthly income or economic solvency and who want to reside in Mexico without working. This can apply to digital nomads or retirees or others who fulfill the permit’s economic criteria. You can read that article here.
This article will provide more information on the Permanent Resident Permit or Tarjeta de Residente Permanente. This permit can be obtained two different ways and has several advantages. Once you have it, you can stay in Mexico as long as you like and you do not have to renew it. You can also enter and leave Mexico as you wish. It also makes it easy to open a bank account, register a car bought in Mexico in your name and get a Mexican driver’s license.
Next month, we will have a closer look at how to get a permit for working in Mexico.
Transitioning from Temporary to Permanent Resident
First of all, a permanent resident permit or Tarjeta de Residente Permanente can be obtained as a transition after holding a Temporary Resident Permit for 4 years. If you have had a Temporary Resident Permit or Tarjeta de Residente Temporal, you may apply before it expires to change the status of your permit to permanent residency.
You will need to gather the following documents
- You will fill out the following online form: https://www.inm.gob.mx/tramites/publico/estancia.html
- Current Tarjeta de Residente Temporal
- Payment of fees
- A sworn statement asking to change status (example here)
When you begin this process, the INM, Instituto Nacional de Migración will guide you. To get started, get to your nearest INM office. Many INM offices now require appointments made ahead of time. You will make these appointments online. Some smaller towns still allow same-day appointments.
Generally, when you take your documents to the INM and they are accepted, they will issue a bank invoice. You will take the invoice and pay at one of the banks they list. You will bring the receipt back to the INM and they will then issue you a file. They will also take your biometrics: photo and fingerprints. You will receive login information in your email to access your file. This is how you will know when your Permanent Resident card has arrived. Keep checking your account. You may not be sent an email notification to let you know your card has arrived at your INM office.
Applying directly for a Permanent Resident Permit or Tarjeta de Residente Permanente
The second way of obtaining a Tarjeta de Residente Permanente is to apply directly for it without going through the 4-year process of having the Temporary Resident Permit first.
You must meet certain criteria in order to qualify. You must specifically check these criteria at the consulate where you will apply for your visa. Most consulates will only grant the Permanent Residency status to people who are retired. Even if you meet the economic solvency criteria, they still may not grant you permanent residency. This is at the complete discretion of the consulate and of the immigration authorities once you are in Mexico. Check this first at the consulate where you will apply. It is best to email the consulate and keep records of conversations to prove that you have come up with the documents they indicated. If it is not possible to apply for this status, you can still apply for temporary resident status. Read our article here on How To Apply for Temporary Resident Status.
If you qualify and have checked with the consulate or are a retiree, getting permanent residency will be a two-step process.
Step One: Applying for Your Entry Visa to Mexico
You will apply for an entry visa for Mexico in your home country or any country outside of Mexico. Of course, if you are in a country other than your home country, you must be legally residing in that country and be able to prove it.
Generally, you will gather the following documents to apply for the entry visa at a Mexican consulate.
- Visa application
- One ID photo measuring 0 mm x 26.0 mm or a maximum of 39.0 mm x 31.0 mm
- Proof of economic solvency such as bank statements (the amount will depend on which consulate you apply to). As a reference but not a rule (still check with your consulate), as of March 2022, you must either be able to show earnings of $4300-$4500 USD per month or $180,000 USD in savings and investments over the past 12 months.
- Proof of legally residing in the country you are applying from (if outside your home country)
- Fees of approximately $48 USD
What is economic solvency for a Permanent Resident Permit in Mexico?
You will need to check the requirements of the consulate where you are applying. These amounts change yearly so be sure you have the latest information. For 2022, you will generally need to show that you either earn $4300 -$4500 USD per month for the past 6 to 12 months depending again on the consulate, OR that you have a savings balance of approximately $180,000 USD for the past 12 months. You will prove this by providing bank statements or other bank documents.
If you are applying as a married couple, you do not need to prove the double of the above amounts. Instead, you will also provide your marriage certificate and bank statements showing a minimum monthly savings balance or minimum monthly income of $910 USD. This is the same amount for a dependent child. Only children 18 or younger can be claimed as dependents on your application.
Where can I apply?
A directory of consulates can be found here.
You will apply in person with your documents. You will need to make an appointment online for most consulates via the Mexican government portal here.
You will visit the consulate to drop off all of your papers. Depending on the consulate, they will deliver the visa in your passport anywhere from the same day to within 3 days. This is a sticker covering a page in your passport. (If your passport will expire while you’re in Mexico, check out our article on renewing your Canadian or U.S. passport here.)
This is an entry visa that allows you to enter Mexico within 6 months. Make sure the immigration agent sees your visa when you enter Mexico.
Now you’re ready to begin Step Two in the process to get your Tarjeta de Residente Permanente.
Step Two: Applying for your Permanent Residency in Mexico
Once you arrive in your new town, you must visit the INM, Instituto Nacional de Migración, the immigration authority, nearest you, with the first 30 days of your arrival in Mexico. We recommend that you get yourself into their offices as soon as possible after your arrival. Between life, holidays and hours of operation, sometimes it may take a few visits to complete the process. Many INM offices require you to make an appointment online.
Take the same documents you took for the visa application at the consulate, again with copies of everything.
If all of your papers are in order, the INM will accept them and send you to a local bank to pay the fees for the Tarjeta de Residente Permanente. Not all banks will process the invoice. Be sure to go to the banks the INM lists. Once you’ve paid the fee at the bank, return to the INM with the receipt.
They will process your paperwork and take your picture and fingerprints. You will receive an email to access your online account with them so that you can check for the arrival of your new card. Be sure to check it every few days because you may not receive a notification email.
You will return to the INM to pick up your Tarjeta de Residente Permanente and sign for it. And then you’re good to go. No more renewals. No more fees. Leave and enter Mexico when you want. Also, you have permission to work in Mexico now with the Tarjeta de Residente Permanente. But you do need to let the INM know if you accept a job offer.
All in all, the process for both the temporary and permanent residency status is straightforward. Always double check the latest requirements directly with the consulate where you will apply for your entry visa. After that, it is just a matter of gathering your documents and patience like with any administrative process.
If you are looking into moving to Mexico and buying your dream home, our real estate agents have been through the process you are going through of changing lifestyles, moving down and going through the paperwork. Get in touch when you’re ready to move to paradise!