How to Get Temporary Residency in Mexico 

How to Get Temporary Residency in Mexico 

Mexico has become one of the most popular destinations for remote workers, expats, and all-purpose explorers thanks to its breathtaking scenery, warm culture, rich food, and low cost of living. 

Most foreigners arriving in Mexico receive a tourist visa called the FMM that lets them remain in the country for six months.

If you want to live in Mexico for longer than six months but fewer than four years, Mexico’s Temporary Resident Visa is perfect for you. 

Here are all the most important things you should know about getting your Mexican Temporary Resident Visa.

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Overview

The Temporary Resident Visa has various options or pathways allowing you to work, invest, or study in Mexico or even just live your best life there as long as you can prove your financial status. 

You can apply for your Temporary Resident Visa at any Mexican Consulate or Embassy before you move to Mexico. If approved, they’ll stick an interim visa in your passport, which you’ll have to swap for a Temporary Resident Card after you arrive in Mexico. 

Your first Temporary Resident Visa will be issued for one year after which you can renew it for three more years.

Benefits

Some of the most interesting benefits of having a Temporary Resident Visa include:

  • During your stay, you can enter and leave Mexico whenever you want
  • You’re allowed to import your foreign vehicle without changing its license plates
  • You can import all your personal and household goods without taxes
  • You can get cheap healthcare through Mexico’s IMSS
  • You can get a Mexican driver’s license
  • You can run your business or get a job in Mexico with the right permits
  • Your pets can come along with no hassle
  • You can nationalize your foreign vehicle
  • The Temporary Resident Visa has lower financial requirements than the Permanent Resident Visa
  • It’s easy to switch to Permanent Resident status after you’ve completed four years in Mexico with Temporary Resident status

Limits

Even with a Temporary Resident Visa, you’ll still have these limits:

  • If you want to start a company or get a job, you’ll need to apply separately for a work permit
  • You’ll have to renew your visa annually
  • You can only renew the visa for a total of four years
  • You won’t be able to buy land within 30 miles of the Mexican coastline without a bank trust
  • You’ll have to update the immigration authorities every time you change houses, jobs, civil status, name, or nationality

Options (Pathway)

There are four main options available for those who want to get the temporary visa in Mexico.

Option One: Economic Solvency

The economic solvency option is designed for business people or retirees who can prove economic solvency, ensuring they won’t take jobs from Mexican nationals.

  • Visa duration: 365 days
  • Processing fee: $48 USD
  • Issuance fee: $4,739 MXN

Requirements

You can prove your economic solvency via any of the following:

(1) Bank statements or proof of investments showing an average end-of-month balance for each of the past 12 months equal to 5,000 times Mexico City’s daily minimum salary. In 2022, this was around $43,000 USD. In 2023, it will increase to just under $52,000 USD.

(2) Documents from the past six months proving you have monthly tax-free income from your salary or pension equal to 300 times Mexico City’s daily minimum wage. In 2022, this was about $2,500 USD. In 2023, it will increase to just over $3,000 USD.

(3) Property deed certifying you own real estate in Mexico worth more than 40,000 times Mexico City’s current daily minimum wage. In 2022, this came out to just over $345,000 USD. In 2023, it will increase to just under $415,000 USD.

(4) You can get the same visa for any economic dependents you need to bring with you on your trip as long as you can prove that for each dependent you have additional monthly income equivalent to 100 times Mexico City’s daily minimum salary. In 2022, this came to around $860 USD. In 2023, it will be around $1,040 USD.

How To Get It

  • Start by making an appointment with your closest Mexican Consulate or Embassy.
  • Bring all the general required paperwork as well as the required documents for this option.
  • Use this visa application form
  • If your visa is approved, you’ll receive an interim visa sticker. You’ll have six months to travel to Mexico and “canjear,” or swap, the sticker for a Temporary Resident Card at the immigration office (INM) in your destination city. See the below section on How To Make the Swap for more details.

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Option Two: Investor

The investor option is designed for people who want to invest in the Mexican economy and employ Mexican citizens.

  • Visa duration: 365 days
  • Processing fee: $48 USD
  • Issuance fee: $4,739 MXN

Requirements

You can prove your investments in Mexico’s economy through any of the below options:

(1) Purchase or transfer contracts of stocks, shares, or assets from a Mexican company or other certified proof demonstrating that your investment in the company is equal to at least 20,000 times Mexico City’s daily minimum salary. In 2022, this was about $173,000 USD. In 2023, it will come out to just under $208,000 USD.

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(2) Documents proving you own real estate in Mexico that you use for business purposes with a value of at least 20,000 times the daily minimum wage in Mexico City. In 2022, this was just under $173,000 USD. In 2023, it will be just under $208,000 USD.

(3) Other documents proving your business activities in Mexico, including permits, licenses, contracts, invoices, service orders, receipts, or a certificate from the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) stating that your business employs at least five Mexican citizens.

How To Get It

Use the same process and visa application form as the above Economic Solvency option.

Option Three: Work

If you have a job offer that requires travel to Mexico or you want to work independently in Mexico, you’ll need a Temporary Resident Visa that comes with a work permit.

  • Visa duration: 365 days
  • Processing fee: $48 USD
  • Issuance fee: $4,739 MXN

Requirements

If you’re traveling to Mexico in response to a job offer, you’ll need to submit:

  • Your original contract or offer printed on the company’s letterhead and stating the position’s salary, duration, and other details
  • The company’s Articles of Incorporation and Mexican tax information
  • Your professional qualifications

If you plan to work independently in Mexico, you’ll need:

  • A letter stating under oath the work you plan to do and where you plan to do it
  • Proof that you’ve signed up for a Mexican tax registration number, known as an RFC. You can sign up here

How To Get It

  • If you’ll be working in Mexico but receiving your salary abroad, you can start by signing up for an appointment with the Mexican consulate or embassy nearest to you.
  • If you’ll be receiving your salary in Mexico, the company offering you a job will need to apply for your work permit directly with their closest INM office.
  • Once your work permit has been approved, INM will assign your case a Unique Processing Number (NUT), and you’ll have 30 days to program your appointment with your Mexican consulate or embassy.
  • Bring your NUT along with all general required paperwork and the additional required documents from this section.
  • Use this visa application form, and make sure to select “Oferta de empleo” under “Propósito de viaje
  • Your application will be approved or rejected depending on the results of your appointment. If approved, they’ll give you an interim visa sticker, which you’ll have only 30 days to “canjear,” or swap, for a Temporary Resident Card at your destination’s INM office. Check out the below section on How To Make the Swap for specific information.

Find out more: An Expat’s Guide to Finding Work in Mexico

Option Four: Student

If you want to go to Mexico to study at a Mexican educational institution, you can apply for the Student Visa option.

  • Visa duration: 365 days
  • Processing fee: $48 USD
  • Issuance fee: $4,739 MXN

Requirements

You’ll need to prove your enrollment in any Mexican school affiliated with the country’s National Educational System (SEN) via a letter of acceptance from the school specifying:

  • Your full name
  • The details of what you plan to study, including your intended major and degree
  • The exact name of the course you’ll be taking
  • The course’s start and end dates
  • The cost of tuition
  • The educational institution’s contact information

You’ll also need to prove your economic solvency with one of the following:

(1) Bank account statements or proof of investments owned by you or your parents or legal guardians with a final monthly balance from the past three months of at least 1,000 times Mexico City’s daily minimum salary. In 2022, this was about $8,600 USD. In 2023, it will be about $10,400 USD.

(2) Documents from the past three months proving you have a job, pension, or scholarship with a monthly income of at least 100 times the minimum wage in Mexico City. In 2022, this was about $860 USD. In 2023, it will increase to around $1,040 USD.

(3) If you’ve received an official offer of scholarship from the Mexican government, you won’t need to prove economic solvency.

How To Get It

The Student Visa option uses the same process and visa application form as the Economic Solvency option.

Other Temporary Resident Visa Options

Besides the above options, there are also a number of special cases that may be used to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa in Mexico. 

These include:

  • Humanitarian reasons
  • Scientific research
  • Religious purposes
  • Seeking asylum
  • Invitation from an acclaimed public or private organization that covers your living expenses in Mexico while you participate in a non-profit activity
  • Travel with the intent to adopt a child

These special cases require specific permissions and paperwork from the concerned official public institutions, public health officials, or federal, state, or municipal authorities.

Application Process

All roads to getting a Temporary Resident Visa start with an in-person appointment at the Mexican consulate or embassy closest to you. 

There is no way to process the visa online only or through a third party.

Here are a few general tips that apply regardless of the option you choose to use:

(1) The Mexican government recommends you start the application process at least six months before your trip’s date.

(2) Different embassies and consulates may have slightly different rules or norms you must follow when applying. Here’s a directory of all current Mexican Consulates and Embassies so you can contact yours and ask about their application process 

(3) If you qualify for a Temporary Resident Visa, you can get the same visa for any family members you want to bring with you. Make sure to bring the necessary documents proving your family connection.

(4) Officially, the visa application process should take between two and 10 days, but many applicants receive the interim visa at the end of their first appointment.

(5) All applications come with an initial processing fee that you’ll pay outside of Mexico and a final visa issuance fee that you’ll pay once you arrive in Mexico. In 2022, the processing fee was $48 USD, and the issuance fee was $4,739 MXN. Check with your nearest consulate or embassy to find out if the processing fee has increased and how to pay it. Information about the issuance fee is included in our below section on How To Make the Swap.

Please note that Mexico is moving toward calculating economic solvency via an official economic reference point called the “Unidad de Medida y Actualización” (UMA), which translates to Measurement and Update Unit. 

As of 2022, the Mexican government continues to calculate economic solvency using the minimum wage and hasn’t yet published a launch date for this new system. You can find the current value of the UMA here.

Required Documents

Here is a list of documents you’ll need to bring to your first consulate or embassy appointment regardless of which option you use to get your Temporary Resident Visa. 

Some of the options have their own specific paperwork requirements in addition to these, which you can find under their individual sections below.

Bring copies of every required document. Most documents need to be submitted with a photocopy, and it’s never fun to have to leave your appointment to find a photocopy machine.

  • Visa application form. We’ll provide a link in each section to the correct form for that option.
  • Your passport with copies of each page
  • Your airline ticket or other travel document
  • A recent color photo measuring no bigger than 1.22 by 1.54 inches, or 31 by 39 millimeters, of your face in front of a white background
  • If you aren’t a citizen of your current country of residence, a document proving your legal residence there, such as your green card or residence permit
  • Proof of payment for the visa processing fee

How to Make the Swap

Once your paperwork has been approved by the Mexican consulate or embassy and you have the interim visa in your passport, you’ll generally have six months to swap the sticker for a Temporary Resident Card at an INM office in Mexico. 

This final leg of the visa process is called the “canje,” which means swap.

When you cross into Mexico, border officials will automatically give you a tourist visa (FMM). Make sure they see your interim visa sticker and check the “Canje” box under the FMM’s “Official Use” section.

When you arrive at your destination in Mexico, look up your nearest INM office

Before visiting INM, fill out this form online by choosing“Qué desea hacer?” under the first question. And then, select “Canjear” from the dropdown menu. 

Under the second question, “Especifica,” select, “Canje de FMM por Tarjeta de Residente o Visitante.” 

After that, you can print it out and sign it. 

If all goes well, you can expect to have your Temporary Resident Card in hand a few weeks after your INM visit.

Required Documents for the Swap

When visiting INM, you’ll need to present your FMM, your travel document and your passport with copies of each page. You’ll also need to show proof of payment of the Temporary Resident Card issuance fee.

This fee generally increases annually. In 2022, the fee was $4,739 MXN. Find out if there have been any recent changes here

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If you don’t pay the fee before visiting INM, your immigration agent will give you a bank assistance form called the “Hoja de Ayuda” and ask you to run to a nearby bank to pay it during your appointment. If you’d like to pay online beforehand, you can use any of these government-certified banks

INM used to ask you to bring three photos of your face and something called the “Formato Básico.” 

In 2022, they’ve changed these requirements so that you no longer have to bring these items. Now, you’ll fill out the “Formato Básico” and take the necessary photos in the INM office during your visit.

Keeping Your Visa Active

Once you have a valid Temporary Resident Card, you can enter and exit the country as many times as you need to. There’s no minimum stay in Mexico needed to keep your Temporary Resident Visa.

You will need to notify your INM office if you change your name, nationality, address, or civil status, although this is not strictly enforced. If you’re permitted to work in Mexico, you’ll also need to advise INM of any changes to your details of employment.

Can I Apply for the Visa Myself?

If your Spanish doesn’t flow as freely as you’d like it to yet, it may keep you from feeling comfortable at your immigration interviews. It can also be hard to fill out the paperwork correctly in a foreign language. 

An immigration facilitator or attorney can help you find your way through what may at first seem like an incoherent legal maze.

When hiring an immigration lawyer or helper, make sure to interview them first to understand what services are included in their fees. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • Will you go over the paperwork with me and help understand anything I miss?
  • Does your rate include all the visa processing and issuance fees?
  • Will you take care of scheduling all the necessary appointments and interviews?
  • Can you act as my official translator or provide one for the appointments?
  • When do you estimate we’ll be finished with the process?
  • If I need to apply for more than one visa, can you provide some kind of discount?

In general, a quality immigration lawyer or facilitator who is effective and trustworthy will charge somewhere between $400-$600 USD for each applicant. The final price may vary depending on the complexity of your specific situation.

Renewing Your Temporary Resident Visa

If you want to renew your visa, at least 30 days before its expiry date you should submit a renewal application at your corresponding INM office. 

You’ll need to bring the same documents you brought to your first application, depending on the kind of visa you’re renewing, to show that your work, study, investment, or economic solvency remains valid into the future.

The initial Temporary Resident Visa is always issued for one year. After your first year, you can choose whether you want to renew it and pay up front for one to three additional years for a maximum total of four years.

In 2022, the Temporary Resident Visa renewal fees were:

  • 1 year: $4,739 MXN
  • 2 years: $7,100 MXN
  • 3 years: $8,993 MXN

After you’ve completed four years as a Temporary Resident, you’ll be automatically qualified to apply for a Permanent Resident Visa.

How to Switch to a Permanent Resident Visa

If you want to switch to a Permanent Resident Visa, you can start the process within 30 days of your fourth Temporary Resident Visa’s expiration date. You’ll need to fill out, sign and print this form, and then visit your corresponding INM office to begin the application procedure and pay the fees.

With four years as a Temporary Resident under your belt, you won’t need to prove economic solvency when applying to become a Permanent Resident. 

The exception to this easy switch is that if you applied for a Temporary Resident Visa as a student, you’ll need to switch to any other Temporary Resident Visa option and renew it for four total years before you can become a Permanent Resident.

Switching to a Permanent Resident Visa comes with two fees, an initial processing payment at the beginning and then the final issuance fee once you are approved. In 2022, the processing fee was $1,514 MXN, and the issuance fee was $5,776 MXN.

Find out more: How To Get Permanent Resident Status in Mexico

Now, on to You

The Temporary Resident Visa is a great way to dip your toes into Mexico and get to know the country up close and personal before deciding if you’d like to live there permanently. It gives you flexibility and plenty of time to make up your mind.

The financial requirements are a little easier than applying for a Permanent Resident Visa right away. Many people who don’t immediately meet the Permanent Resident Visa’s financial criteria use the Temporary Resident Visa as kind of a back door to becoming a Permanent Resident or even getting Mexican citizenship.

If you’re intrigued by the culture and people and want to find out if you’re a kindred spirit, take Mexico out for a spin with a Temporary Resident Visa. You’ll have four years to bask in the Mexican spirit and decide whether living there permanently is right for you.

Joseph Johnston
Joseph Johnston is a writer and amateur wizard with unruly, but not outrageous, eyebrows. His restless toes traipsed him through the bristling barrios of a couple dozen mystical kingdoms before settling on settling down in Mexico and the U.S., where he currently splits his time between the state of Jalisco and the state of Georgia. Thanks to infinite patience & a few magic spells, he's earned his Mexican citizenship, turned most of his Ns into Ñs, and replaced most of the cells in his body with Mexican food.

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