Types of Immigration Status in Mexico - FM Documents
by Lic. J.E. Beaulne, LL.B.
Immigration status rules
I would like to set the record straight as per the law. Due to many requests regarding what a foreigner must have to be able to live in or visit Mexico so as not to have any problems with immigration and because of many who take advantage of people by telling them what they must have Foreigners who´s nationality permits them to enter Mexico without a VISA issued from a Mexican consulate or Embassy only have to aquire an FMM which replaces the old “FMT” commently known as a “Tourist Card”.
Said document is available at immigration offices either at the border or anywhere in the country or his supplied by the air or sea carrier. Said document provides one to visit as a tourist, or have activities such as work, sport or artistic for a maximum duration of 180 days, other activities have less time. For the purpose of this article we will limit the activities to said four. As per the new rules at the termination of the days written on the FMM by the immigration officer one must exit the country.
Note: According to the new rule if one is outside of Mexico and wants to immigrate one must present himself to a Mexican consulate or Embassy and request a Visa; said Visa does not premit the person to enter Mexico and one must fill out an FMM at point of entry and present both documents to the immigration officer. Once in the country the holder of the Visa and FMM must present himself to any immigration office to request the “Inmigrante” status (FM.2). This been said the following applies:
In the event that one wants to be in Mexico for more than 180 continuous days one must request one of the following:
A) FM-3, to be known in the future as ““No inmigrante” (Non inmigrant) permit
a) Said document is now in an ID card format and can be issued for up to 365 days.
b) One can be abled to carry out activities while he is in the country, said activities will be indicated on the card.
c) One can not renew this form unless one is in the country.
d) One must fill out a form on the internet, present it along with the required documents including photos, pay government fees and once it is approved sign and give fingerprints on a form and on the ID card.
e) One can enter and leave Mexico as many times as one wants with this permit and one is not required to spend any minimum amount of time in Mexico.
f) One must present the ID card upon leaving and entering Mexico and one must fill in an FMM when entering Mexico and present it to the immigration officer at point of entry who will not put any number of days on the FMM.
g) After 5 years one can continue to be under the “No Inmigrante” status.
h) At any time while one holds a “No Inmigrante” status one can request a change to “Inmigrante” status commonly known as FM-2.
i) One must carry this ID card on him / her all the time.
j) One does not need this status to acquire real estate property or start a business (Since the change in immigration rules the Federal and State Tax dept., request this immigration status or the following one.
k) ONE DOES NOT NEED AN “No Inmigrante” status (FM-3) IF ONE HAS REAL ESTATE PROPERTY OR TIME SHARE OR WORK.
ONE NEEDS THIS STATUS ONLY IF ONE IS IN THE COUNTRY FOR MORE THAN 180 CONTINUOUS DAYS.
B) FM-2, to be known in the future as “Inmigrante” (Immigrant) permit:
a) Applies a), b), c), d), f), i) of A) .
b) One does not need to have had previously the “No inmigrante” status (FM-3).
c) One must prove to immigration that one actually immigrated to Mexico.
d) One must be in Mexico for no less than 3 out of 5 years.
e) One does not need to have this status if one as real estate property or time share but it is recommended so as to be considered under article 109.XV of the Federal income tax law regarding taxes at time of selling (Capital gain tax) so as to eliminate or reduce the amount of tax to be paid.
f) During the last 6 month of the 4th year with an “inmigrante” permit one has two choices:
i) Apply for the landed immigrant status (Inmigrado) or
ii) Apply for citizenship.
C) “Inmigrado” (landed immigrant) status:
a) One must apply during the last 6 months of the fourht year of the “Inmigrante” (Immigrant) permit.
b) One must fill out a form on the internet, present it along with the required documents, pay government fees. If not done during the indicated period one must request that is case be regulated.
c) One can request this at time that one is outside of Mexico but the application will not be processed until his return and one has 15 days to do so after his return.
d) The process is done at immigration offices in Mexico City.
e) Government fees apply.
f) One can do any legal activity but can be restricted by the immigration authority one can not continue under this status if one lives outside of Mexico for more than 3 continuous year same if in a period of 10 years one spends more than 5 outside of the Country.
D) “Naturalizacion” Mexican nationality:
a) One must apply during the last 6 months of the fourth year of the
“Inmigrante” (Immigrant) permit.
b) The process is done at the Secretary of External Relations (SRE).
c) The dossier is first studied by immigration in Mexico City, if recommended one obtains the “CARTA de NATURALIZACION” (Letter of Naturalization).
d) One must be able to converse in Spanish.
e) If one is less than 60 years of age one must pass an exam, if one is over the magic number of 60 one does not requested to pass an exam. If one fails one can do it again.
f) Government fees are to be paid.
g) Contrary to info on internet one does not loose his former nationality (there are exception to this rule but do not apply to Americans or Canadians). One who is Mexican by naturalization renounces to his former nationality while in Mexico only.
h) If one has married a Mexican national, has child born in Mexico or adopted a Mexican child one can apply for this status after 2 years holding an “Inmigrante” status FM-2.
Important things to remember: Immigration officers have only one job: Make sure everyone in the country entered legally and has legal immigration status as per the law while in the country. This is what their job is nothing more, if a foreigner has problems under any other laws immigration can not request or order you to leave the country, they can only verify if you are legal in the country. Any one who is convicted of any crime will be deported once he served his time in jail as per the Judge´s decision, one who comes to Mexico to hide from the law will be processed in front of a Penal Tribunal and a Judge will order the removal of the individual from the Mexican territory and handed over to the authority in the foreign land. Article 33 of the Mexican Constitution can not be applied lightly, due process of law must be done. If you are asked money or any other favors by any authority you must report this to the complaint department in Mexico city with proof. In Mexico you can tape a conversation without having to inform the person that you are taping him and use it as proof. At any time you are called in to render a declaration you are protected by the Constitution and an official translator must be supplied. Never sign document(s) if you do not understand fully what is written.
If one needs precisions or more information please feel free to send me a note at: