The country of Mexico has designated different statuses for foreign visitors; there are three statuses that generally relate to real property homebuyers. These statuses are different for the specific situations of the foreign visitor. Immigration can be identified by the letters INM.
The changes to immigration law initiated by the Mexican government were made in May 2011 and these changes came into effect in November 2012. Please consult with immigration or Prestige Properties for the most current rules as, they constantly evolve. Mostly for the better, making it easier for foreigners to purchase, do business, and enjoy life in Mexico.
The first and most basic visa is the FMM or TOURIST VISA, this is the standard tourist form required by all persons entering the country that allows visitors to remain in the country for up to 180 days (six months) without working. This Visa is easily renewed by simply leaving México within the six month period and then returning to do the process again. If you are planning to purchase property in Mexico and do not already have your immigration started, mark business ‘negocio’ on the FMM when you get it, because technically you’d be doing business in the country. Cost- the peso equivalent of $20-25usd. This is the least expensive way to be legal in Mexico.
*Note- if you are in Mexico for more than 72 hours (3 days), you should have the correct immigration document easily accessible. Of course chances are nothing will happen, however, without it your insurance company doesn’t have to honor their policy with you as, at that point you are illegally in the country. Remember, you are in Mexico and subject to Mexican law. Margaritas and ignorance of the law are not excuses if ‘it’ hits the fan.
The second type of designation is the RESIDENTE TEMPORAL VISA which is designed for the visitor who wants to live in México more tha 180 days. The “Temporary Resident Visa” is recommended for those who choose to own property in México. After four years (sometimes less) it can be converted into a “Permanent Resident Visa”. This visa allows you to stay in Mexico for as long as you like without a restriction on foreign travel.
An individual with the “Temporary Resident Visa” status is allowed to own foreign-plated vehicles, and operate them in México as long as the vehicle is registered with the “Temporary Resident Visa” upon entry into México. Be sure you have the correct ‘activities’ on this visa for what you want to do in Mexico. If you need to make changes in activity status the middle of a year, you might have to pay for another year so try to be broad with activities in the beginning. Cost- the peso equivalent of $350-$450usd +/- per year.
The third type of designation is the RESIDENTE PERMANENTE VISA. After four years of successfully meeting the requirements of “Temporary Resident Visa”, including time outside of México (sometimes less), you may apply for “Permanent Resident Visa” status which allows you to enjoy most of the rights of a Mexican Citizen, with the exception of the right to vote. This visa status does not require you to give up your native citizenship, and holders may freely work and remain in México without annual renewals of any immigration papers. This is also recommended for real property owners. You cannot drive foreign plated vehicles (at least don’t get caught). It is recommended to obtain a Mexican driver’s license when you have this status and to have a ‘national’ vehicle to drive while in Mexico. It’s possible to legally import firearms with this visa too if you happen to be a hunter. There is quite a process so be prepared for lots of paperwork and time spent to do so. An added bonus with this visa is, if you’re flying into Mexico, you can go to the ‘national’ line at customs and don’t have to wait with the foreigners.
You must inform the INM (Immigration) of the following changes within 90 days of their occurrence:
Change of employment
Change in marital status
Change in citizenship
For most people, the “Temporary Resident Visa” status is the most practical status for part time residents. It is obtained more quickly than the “Permanent Resident Visa”. Many “Permanent Resident Visa” applicants use professional help in completing the forms and required paperwork.
Privileges are the similar for both “Temporary Resident Visa” and “Permanent Resident Visa” holders, however, “Permanent Resident Visa” holders must return a foreign plated automobile to outside of México, as they cannot drive foreign plated automobiles within the country. (If you do don’t get caught, have a trusted family member, friend, or local attorney on speed dial.) With both types of Visas you are free to come and go from México anytime as you please. Please check with the Foreign Affairs Department of Mexico regarding any changes to the rules regarding automobiles as they seem to change often.
TEMPORARY AND PERMANENT RESIDENT WORK PERMIT
Holders of a temporary resident visa may be allowed to work in Mexico but they require a work permit. The work permit is not a separate document. It is a change to your activity status on your visa. To get a work permit you need to submit a letter with your application, which states what type of work you want to do. Try to be broad with your activities so you don’t have to pay for changes in status. Permanent Residents have the right to work in Mexico.
*Prestige Properties recommends you visit your local Mexican consulate and the appropriate government websites to verify the processes for any of the above mentioned. You can also visit a competent Mexican business services company for more detailed information on Immigration.
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