How to Get a Work Permit in Mexico with Requirements (2024)

Mexico boasts a thriving economy filled with employment opportunities. If you aim to work in a Mexican company, obtaining a work permit is essential. 

A work permit in Mexico essentially serves as your temporary resident card, marked with the phrase “PERMISO PARA TRABAJAR,” which translates to “permission to work.”

The paperwork and procedures required to obtain a Mexican work permit depend on the duration of your employment and whether you currently reside outside Mexico or are already living in the country with a valid visa.

There are three main scenarios:

  • If you live outside Mexico and plan to work in the country for over 180 days with an approved employer, you’ll need to interview at your nearest Mexican Consulate, receive an interim work visa, and then exchange it for a work permit card after arriving in Mexico.
  • If you live outside Mexico and plan to work for under 180 days, the procedure begins similarly, but you won’t need to undergo any exchange process after arriving in Mexico.
  • If you already live in Mexico and have a valid temporary resident or student visa, you can apply for a work permit at your nearest immigration (INM) office.

This guide will delve into the specifics of these scenarios. 

We will guide you through each step involved, list the requirements and fees for each procedure, and give you an idea how long it will take. 

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Requirements

The primary requirement for obtaining a work permit in Mexico is to secure a job offer from a Mexican company. Without this, you cannot get a Mexican work permit.

To successfully land a job in Mexico, you typically need to possess the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree.
  • Several years of professional experience; the more, the better.
  • Specialized skills relevant to the job you are applying for.

While proficiency in Spanish is not a mandatory requirement for employment in Mexico, having language skills can significantly enhance your chances of receiving a job offer.

For more detailed information, refer to our comprehensive guide on how to find work in Mexico.

Types of Work Permit in Mexico

INM, Mexico’s immigration authority, offers foreign applicants four types of work permits:

work permit mexico
An example of a temporary resident card with a permission to work (work permit) in Mexico
  • The temporary resident work permit allows you to live and work in Mexico long-term.
  • The visitor’s work permit permits work in Mexico for under six months.
  • The temporary student work permit only allows work related to your studies or research, as indicated in the paperwork you’ll receive.
  • Anyone granted a visa for humanitarian reasons, including relief workers, refugees, etc., is implicitly authorized to work in Mexico.

How to Apply: A Step-by-Step Guide

To obtain a work permit in Mexico, you must first secure a job offer from a Mexican employer. The employer will initiate the process by contacting the Mexican immigration office (INM).

Subsequent steps vary depending on your situation:

If You Live Outside Mexico and Receive a Job Offer

If you receive a job offer while living outside Mexico, the process for obtaining your work permit will be as follows:

  • Wait until your employer receives approval for hiring you from their local INM. 
  • Bring the INM approval letter along with your personal documents and apply for a visa at the Mexican Consulate. After that, you will receive an interim visa. 
  • Fly to Mexico, show it to an immigration checkpoint, and obtain an FMM. 
  • Convert your FMM into a temporary visa with permission to work at a local INM.

Let’s take a look at each step individually.

Get an Approval from INM

Before proceeding, ensure your prospective employer has completed all necessary paperwork as an ongoing business operation with a valid Employer Registration Certificate (CIE) and tax identification number.

They must apply for permission from their local INM office to hire you, demonstrating that no more than 10% of their staff comprises foreign nationals and that they were unable to fill your position with a Mexican national.

In their application, they must include a copy of your job offer on the official company letterhead, detailing the position, proposed salary, activities, and length of stay. 

The response from INM typically takes about one and a half months.

Once approved, your employer will send you an official document from INM, authorizing you to proceed to an initial interview at your nearest Mexican Consulate.

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Apply for a Temporary Resident Visa with a Work Permit at the Consulate  

The INM letter is valid for 30 days. You can bring the document to the Consulate to schedule your interview or apply for an interview date online at this link.  

Requirements and fees for your initial consular visit include:

  • Your official authorization document from INM, plus a copy
  • A nonimmigrant visa application form, available here 
  • Your current passport or other travel ID, plus a copy of the photo page
  • A recent passport-sized photo of your face
  • Your email address
  • A consulate official will take a digital picture of you and scan and digitize your fingerprints during the interview
  • The current fee for this visit is $229 MXN

For more information during the process, You can check the official government web page describing this initial consular visit. 

If your interview raises no concerns, the Consulate will issue an interim work visa valid for 180 days from your initial interview approval date.

Fly to Mexico and Show Your Interim Work Visa

Upon arrival in Mexico, an immigration checkpoint officer will provide you with the standard visa form, the FMM. Present them your interim work visa. 

If your application is for six months or under, your FMM will be marked as valid for employment. Your FMM will serve as both your visa and work permit, with no exchange required. And you can skip the last step. 

If your application is for longer than six months, your FMM will be marked for exchange, termed “canje.” 

Change to a Temporary Resident Card with a Permission to Work in Mexico

You must visit the nearest INM office to your new Mexican address within 30 days to exchange your FMM and interim work visa for a temporary resident card authorized for employment.

Requirements and fees for your visa exchange visit include:

  • Your current passport or other travel ID, plus a copy of the photo page
  • The FMM received at the immigration checkpoint
  • A properly completed “basic form” available here. (When filling out the form online, under “¿Qué deseas hacer?” select “Canjear o reponer documento migratorio” and specify “Canje de FMM por Tarjeta de Visitante o de Residente”)
  • Three 1R-sized color photos of your face, two facing forward and one facing left
  • Your email address
  • A consulate official will take a digital picture of you and scan and digitize your fingerprints and signature during the interview
  • The current fee for receiving your Temporary Resident card valid for one year is $5328 MXN

Here’s an official government webpage describing this visa exchange visit. 

Temporary Resident cards are typically valid for one year. 

If your job offer exceeds a year, you might be eligible for a visa valid for up to four years, requiring a higher initial fee but eliminating the need for annual renewals.

You will receive an email notification when your card is ready. 

Although the official time frame is 15 business days after your visa exchange visit, delays are common. Avoid undue worry if you don’t receive immediate feedback.

A list of the 32 full INM offices and 126 smaller immigration application assistance offices across Mexico, along with their addresses and business hours, can be found here.

If You Live in Mexico with a Valid Temporary Resident or Student Visa

If you’re already living in Mexico as a temporary resident or student, applying for permission to work is relatively straightforward.

You need to pay the fee and gather the required paperwork, which includes a Mexican tax identification number and proof that the business you’ll be working with is valid.

Then, you can visit your nearest INM office to submit your initial application.

Here are the requirements and fee for Mexican residents applying for a work permit:

  • Your current passport or other travel ID, plus a copy of the photo page
  • Your current Temporary Resident card or Temporary Student visa
  • Your Mexican tax ID number. You can apply for it here if you don’t have it yet
  • Your email address
  • If you’ll be working with an established company, proof of your job offer, including the job’s description, length, salary, and location, as well as the company’s CIE
  • If you’ll be working independently, a signed letter describing what you’ll be doing and where
  • If you’re applying under a student visa, a letter from your university or college approving your work proposal
  • The fee for this application is currently $4001 MXN

The official government web page describing this work permit application for Mexican residents.  

INM will review your paperwork and may call the business phone number you provided to verify its existence and employment intent.

If you’re applying with a student visa, INM will confirm you’re a current student in an undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, or research program and that your proposed job is relevant to your field of study.

If your application is approved, you’ll need to submit additional forms and photos for your new Temporary Resident card with work permission. Required for your second INM visit are:

  • The approval notification received via email
  • A correctly filled out “basic form” available here
  • Three 1R-sized color photos of your face, two facing forward and one facing left

If your application is denied, you’ll receive an explanation, and your original Temporary Resident card will be returned to you, maintaining your original Temporary Resident status without work permission.

You’ll be notified by email when your decision is ready. INM claims this process should be completed within 20 days.

If You Live Outside Mexico and Plan to Work Independently

If you reside outside Mexico and wish to operate your own business there, the official procedure can be quite challenging to undertake from afar.

You or a representative must first register your business in Mexico as an ongoing operation with official tax status. Then, you or they must apply to the INM for permission for your business to employ foreigners, even if that foreigner is yourself, the owner.

You will need to submit documents such as:

  • Photos of the interior and exterior of the premises in Mexico
  • Current Mexican utility bills
  • Mexican health insurance (IMSS) receipts for all your employees

You can find the full list of requirements here.

Coordinating all this from outside the country can be difficult. 

However, there’s a simpler alternative: start by applying for a Temporary Resident visa without work permissions using the Economic Solvency pathway, as explained in this guide.  

Once you are in Mexico and established, you can then apply to add work permissions to your Temporary Resident visa at your convenience.

We explain how to do this in our section below on If You Live in Mexico with a Valid Temporary Resident or Student Visa.

Processing Time

The timeline for these procedures varies, especially if you start outside Mexico with no visa. 

It depends on your travel plans and how quickly you move from your origin city to the border or immigration checkpoint and then to the INM office in your destination city. 

Without complications and with smooth paperwork and travel, it could take as little as a month. If there are delays, it should not exceed four months.

Starting within Mexico with a valid temporary resident or student visa, the Mexican government estimates the procedure should take 20 days, though this may be optimistic.

Do I Need to Speak Spanish?

All necessary forms are in Spanish, and most immigration officials primarily speak Spanish. Thus, speaking the language or having a translator is important, if not crucial.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Generally, these procedures are simple enough to complete independently. If you cannot submit and follow up on your application personally, you can hire a lawyer to handle the process. 

They will need to present their ID and an official power of attorney.

How to Renew Your Work Permit

You can usually renew your Temporary Resident work permit for up to four years if necessary. 

You must visit your INM office within 30 days of its expiration and present proof of your ongoing employment offer.

Here’s the official government website listing out documents you need to renew your work permit

Now, onto You

To work legally in Mexico, you can begin the process from outside the country with a valid job offer from an approved company, or from inside the country if you already have a Temporary Resident or Student visa.

The most challenging part is getting the company approved by the government to hire foreigners. 

Only a third of companies applying for this approval succeed. Once this hurdle is cleared, it’s largely a matter of patience and persistence in gathering the necessary documents and navigating the appropriate processes.

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.

2 thoughts on “How to Get a Work Permit in Mexico with Requirements (2024)”

  1. Dear Joseph,
    Thank you for your interesting website. I am a freelance EU consultant and need to go to Mexico-city for a few days work, after which I would like to spend some holidays there too. Would I need a visa for this, and if so what kind?
    Many thanks in advance
    H.Ruijs

    Reply
    • If you are from the EU, you should be able to fly to Mexico without having a visa. Regarding work, in case it’s just a business meeting, and so on, you don’t need that. On the other hand, if you are going to get a payment from a Mexico company, you may need to get a work visa. However, it can be a hassle to do it since the work visa is for those who want to stay and work in Mexico long-term.

      Reply

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