Mexico real estate buyers will be interested to know that a Mexico law changing immigration statuses has been passed, creating new categories for visitors and permanent residents. While the new law is not expected to create any complications or difficulties it is good for Americans and Canadians residing in or planning to reside in Mexico to be aware of some of the details.
The new law is a considerable overhaul as compared to some minor reforms introduced last year. However, since most of the changes have been introduced with Central American immigrants or migrant workers, there will be little actual change for North American expats – mostly just change in categories and naming of the categories.
The most significant change is there are no more FM2 or FM3 visas (FM = “formulario migratorio,” or in English, “Immigration document.”) These were for non-immigrant and immigrant status, respectively. Instead, there will be 4 new immigration, visitor and resident categories, which are as follows:
Visitor – This category is for tourists (non-working visitors), working visitors, and visitors for humanitarian purposes, among other. This visa is valid for 180 days. As before, this probably means that those arriving in Mexico on plane with a passport will receive a document allowing them to stay in the country legally for about 6 months. For real estate buyers who use their property only for vacations or for the winter months, this status will probably be sufficient. Those intending to make extended stays or live in Mexico permanently will have to obtain another status, and perhaps also those who intend to carry out business.
Temporary Resident – This visa is valid for 4 years and allows for the possibility of a work permit. It also allows those who hold it to leave and re-enter as often as they wish. This will also serve as a “stepping stone” to the Permanent Resident status (see below.) Those who intend to living in Mexico permanently or semi-permanently will probably be required to gain this status first.
Temporary Student Resident – This is for any in Mexico for study, research or training purposes.
Permanent Resident – This visa allows its holders to stay indefinitely and allows them to work. It can be gained after 4 years with a Temporary Resident visa. Some cases allow for less than 4 years, and especially the following are of interest to most North American expats:
- Marriage to a Mexican citizen for 2 years. The marriage can be official or common law; “common law” has to be declared officially in a process more complicated than actually getting married. If this marriage took place outside of Mexico, it must be registered with the Civil Registry. The person in question must also hold the Temporary Resident status during these 2 years.
- The new points system. This system allows for permanent residency in less than 4 years. Details will soon be released.
Finally, a new ID card will also be issued to anyone with a Temporary or Permanent Resident Visa.
While the law has been passed (as of May 24 it was signed by Mexico’s president Felipe Calderon,) the details of how it will be applied and carried out (i.e. where and how the cards will be issued and what happens to those who are already in the old system) have not yet been released.
For updates on this and any other issue related to Mexico law for real estate buyers or American and Canadian residents of Mexico, follow a professionally prepared Mexico real estate blog. As mentioned above, no complications or difficulties are expected, but it is important to be informed and aware of these details.
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Thomas Lloyd graduated from Purdue University Krannert School of Management with a degree in Management/Financial Option Investments. He has been living, investing, and working professionally in Mexico for over 15 years. A Mexican Certified Realtor he is the current president of TOPmexicorealestate, you can contact him at (512) 879-6546.
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