Home Mexico Living Mexico Immigration Specialist Sonia Diaz, explains process

Mexico Immigration Specialist Sonia Diaz, explains process

There are several types of visas available for those wishing to reside in Mexico. Here are a few. In total, my experience includes thousands of immigration processes with every scenario imaginable and at a cost lower than others. Plus, I have an excellent relationship with Inmigracion staff some of whom are personal friends.

Note: once you have a Temporary or Permanent Resident Visa never enter Mexico with an FMM card marked “tourist”. You will then be a tourist and you need to start the process over at a Mexican consulate. And please never have a color copy of your visa, driver’s license or any other Mexican government issued ID as that is considered fraud with serious consequences.


If you lose your visa while outside Mexico you are to go to the nearest Mexican consulate or embassyAnother possible option, is upon arrival at an airport in Mexico you immediately go to Immigration at the airport. You ask for a meeting and request a 2-page letter called: ACTA DE INTERNACION AEREA. You then apply at Inmigracion where you live to process a lost visa. I have only seen this done once.


FMM Tourist Card (Forma Migratoria Multiple) allows one to enter Mexico, one time, for up to 180 days. There is a new electronic FMME Aérea for air and land travel. Fill out the application from any electronic device connected to the Internet. Print the FMM and keep it with you to be validated where you enter Mexico. The immigration authorities must stamp it. Once the form has been printed, you have 30 days to enter Mexico and you may remain in Mexico (without engaging in paid activities) for up to 180 days.

The traditional way of obtaining the FMM at ports of entry is still in force. The FMM is an additional option to the traditional practice and will facilitate the process by enabling the user to fill out the form in advance, from any country. It is very important to keep the stamped portion of the FMM that corresponds to the record of entry, as this is proof of your legal entry into Mexico and will be required when you leave the country.

Prior to your FMM expiration, you must return to the border as it can not be extended in Mexico. The FMM tourist card is 500 pesos per person.
Mexican Consulate appointments are often required to apply for a pre-approved Temporary or Permanent Resident visa. Appointments may be made by calling from Mexico 01-404-266-2233 (ext 250). Or via the website by clicking the “appointments” button or calling the consulate. When making an appointment online you may change the language in the upper right corner. Each person needs a separate interview time including children. You must tell the consulate staff you intend to retire. If you mention working in Mexico you will likely be declined. A very few consulates require a police report, background check. If you are coming to San Miguel de Allende to process your visa and you are working with me here I can make your appointment. ​​​



Consulate requirements: 


1. Photograph measuring 39 mm x 31 mm max to 32 x 26 mm, (typically passport size), face uncovered, no eyeglasses, front view, in color, with white background.

2. In the U.S. $36 cash per person and in Canada $44.

3. Mexican consulate visa application form to be printed as per blue link above, completed and taken with you. On question 21, for a Temporary Resident pre-approval check more than 180 days and less than 4 years and for Permanent Resident check “DEFINITIVE” . Complete questions 1- 25.

4. Passport plus copy.

5. Financials: 12 months of individual printouts for savings/investments and/or 6 months of individual bank printouts showing income and/or proof of home ownership in Mexico. Take as much proof of financials as possible. You can not have too much. Your name must be on your financial statements and if a joint account both names. 

6. Appointment confirmation form.


​​Pre-approved Consulate Visa Processing in Mexico. The pre-approval allows you to enter Mexico up to 6 months from the time when pre-approved. Once you enter Mexico you have 30 days to start your visa process. Your pre-approved visa is for ONE entry and you may not enter a second time with it. When entering Mexico by car you must stop at the border and obtain your TIP (car permit) and FMM as above. That FMM must be marked CANJE on the lower left side by Immigration. Your pre-approved visa in your passport is also to be stamped at that time. When flying you will receive an FMM and again it must be marked CANJE by Mexican immigration staff. If this is not done you will be sent back to the border. Your FMM will indicate 30 days. Typically, the in Mexico process takes up to 4 – 10 weeks but varies with each INM office. You may leave Mexico once approved and fingerprinted and one has applied for and received a travel letter. The minimum time for that to happen is typically 5 weeks but again varies with each INM office. Some INM offices are faster and some slower. You can not expedite the process. You can not leave Mexico without your travel letter. Or, you may wait the full period until your visa is issued. Note, in the U.S. when one who is applying for a resident visa, you can not leave the US until the process is completed and that takes up to a year. Please, do not come to Mexico and say I have to get back to my job in 2 weeks. It will NOT happen. Please be realistic.


Temporary Resident Visa (TR) is for those who intend to be in Mexico more than 6 months and up to 4 years. TR starts with a pre-approval at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico. When you enter Mexico with a pre-approved visa, at the border you also complete an FMM as above. It must be marked CANJE by Immigration. In Mexico, a visa takes typically up to 10 weeks to process. There are several steps including online forms, photos, bank payment, several copies and then fingerprints after approximately 5  weeks, etc. Visa will be issued for 1 year and up to one month before expiration you may renew for 3 more years. Your expiration date will be on the anniversary of the day you entered Mexico and received your FMM.  A foreign plated car is allowed for as long as you are a TR. After 4 years you become a Permanent Resident. One may not earn Mexico sourced income as a TR but you may earn income from outsde of Mexico. Proving home ownership in Mexico will also be given credit when applying. The amounts may vary based on exchange rates and consulate’s policy. Prior to going to a Mexican consulate please complete and take the consulate application.

For financial statements, if an account is in both names, have both names appear on statements. Mexican account printouts usually show one name on joint accounts.


  • Investments ~$22,000 US / $27,000 C with 12 months of individual statements (5000 X daily minimum wage of 88.36 pesos), or


  • Monthly income ~$1,400 US /$1800 C employment or pension source showing 6 months of bank statements (300 X daily minimum wage of 88.36 pesos), or


  • Home ownership in Mexico with a value of approximately 3,400,000 pesos (40,000 x daily minimum wage of 88.36 pesos) per person. You need original and copy of deed.


Once your visa is issued do not leave the consulate without first checking your pre-approved visa in your passport. If you applied as a Temporary Resident and issued a Permanent resident pre-approval, your car is illegal after 30 days. This does happen.


Your first TR visa will be issued for 1 year. Within 30 days prior to the one-year expiration, you may renew for up to 3 more years. Financials are not required and renewal is done locally.


Permanent Resident Visa (PR) is for those who plan to live in Mexico permanently. It also starts with a pre-approval as above and the process is same as a Temporary Resident visa but it is as the name implies, permanent. One may work as a PR but must inform INM. A foreign plated car is not allowed. The amounts are per person. Consulates vary and may use different numbers taking into account exchange rates but many will not. For those who are Temporary Residents and living in Mexico, you may become a Permanent Resident at any time in less than 4 years. To do so, you must prove ~$2500 / month of only pension-sourced income; no other form of income, investments nor home ownership are considered.








For financial statements, if an account is in both names, have both names appear on your statements. Mexican printouts often show 1 name on joint accounts.


  • Investments  ~$90,000 US /  $110,000 C with 12 months of individual statements (20,0000 X daily minimum wage of 88.36 pesos), or


  • Monthly income of ~$2300 US/ $2800 C  pension sourced only and by showing 6 months of individual bank statements (500 X daily minimum wage of 88.36


Children with a Permanent Resident visa between the ages of 1 and 3 must renew their visa annually. Children over age 3 must renew every 4 years until 18.

Humanitarian Visas are free for those in Mexico including Tourists or one with no visa who has poor health such as blindness, dementia, Alzheimer’s, strokes, etc. Applicant must be unable to travel. The humanitarian visa requires an examination and a letter from the applicant’s physician. Then, that document is presented to a physician approved by Immigration who issues a very specific letter. In San Miguel, only one doctor is acceptable to INM. They require a lot of work to process. Humanitarian visas are renewed annually. I represent the two largest long-term care facilities in SMA and process many. A person with a Humanitarian visa may apply for a Temporary or Permanent Resident visa locally within Mexico based on financials.


Permiso Para Trabajar Visa (permission to earn income) is issued to those who already have a Temporary Resident visa and who wish to earn Mexican sourced income from being a musician, artist, selling real estate, hairdresser, self-employed, landlord, etc. This is not applicable to one being hired by a large employer. It requires one to begin the registration process and making an appointment with SAT (taxation) online and then going to the appointment to finalize your registration and receiving your password. You will also receive your cedula (QR scanner code). Once this is done, you may apply at Inmigracion for your Permiso Para Trabajar visa which requires bank payment, forms, photos, fingerprints, etc. A Permanent Resident may work but must complete the SAT process the same as that for a Temporary Resident and then inform Immigration with letter, copies, SAT registration information, etc.


Expired Temporary Resident Visa

Visa expiration date is written: day/month/year.


  1. If you are outside of Mexico and your visa has expired you must start over at a Mexican Consulate as there is no way to enter Mexico legally other than as a tourist. You will obtain a pre-approval at a consulate.
  2. If you are in Mexico and your visa has expired by more than 60 days you must leave the country and start over at a Mexican Consulate and obtain a pre-approval.
  3. If your Temporary Resident visa has expired by less than 60 days and you are in Mexico you may apply for a Temporary Resident visa, at year ONE. The steps are below.

          Requirements Per Person For Visa Expired Less Than 60 days While In Mexico:

  1. Prove Mexican home value of at least 3,400,000 pesos per person, or
  2. Prove ONLY pension-sourced income of ~ 33,000 pesos per month supported with 6 individual months of bank statements plus letter/document from pension provider confirming your monthly pension. Both, bank statements and confirmation from pension provider must be translated by a certified translator. Investments / savings will not be considered. Bank statements and passport must have exact same name, to the letter.
  3. Complete steps similar to a visa renewal.
  4. Process includes an interview with INM staff.
  5. INM has a fee and fine.
  6. Total time is longer than a normal renewal and 7 to 9 weeks is not uncommon. There are more steps but this is a summary.

Travel Permission Letter

1. If you plan to travel outside of Mexico during the visa process please know if you are starting with a consulate pre-approved visa it is usually not possible to exit Mexico once the process has started until you are approved. This is normally, 4 – 6 weeks from time application is started locally.

2. If you are applying for a visa renewal you may apply for a travel letter at any time in the process and you do not have to wait for approval.

3. To travel as noted, you require a travel letter issued by INM. These letters in SMA take up to 3 business days. There is no way to do it faster. These letters have a fee, require forms, photo, and bank form/payment, copies, submission and then returning to INM and waiting up to 3 hours for them. The travel letter is good for to up 60 days and you must return within that time frame.

4. Or, wait about 8 weeks when the visa will be issued.

5. If you drive out with a travel letter and turn in your car permit, since you will have no visa and no FMM, you can not obtain a car permit to re-enter Mexico with your car. Your car will have to remain outside of Mexico until such time as your visa issued and you return to where it is located.
Obtaining a Visa under Family means for a married or common-law couple, normally each must show the qualifying amounts of income, investments etc. If not possible, one way around this is for one person of the married couple to qualify. If husband qualifies and wife does not, she enters as a tourist and when the husband has his visa she can start. Spouse does not need financials as she is being sponsored by the other spouse. However, if the name on wife’s passport (and husbands) does not exactly match the name on the marriage certificate one needs a notarized letter from the American or Canadian Embassy in Mexico City confirming the person named on the passport is the same person named on the marriage license. Example, Mary Elizabeth Smith is not the same as Mary E. Smith to INM. If the wife can qualify and husband enters as a tourist it is usually easier as the husband’s name on his passport more often matches his name on marriage license/certificate. 

When the sponsor is a Permanent Resident the other family member/s will need to be a Temporary Resident for 1 year and in 12 months renew for 1 more year before becoming a PR. There is the need to apostille or legalize marriage certificate and to have the apostille and license translated by a certified translator in Mexico. Same process applies for a child who is being sponsored by a parent with a Temporary or Permanent Resident visa. For a child the birth certificate requires to be apostille or legalized and both documents translated by a certified translator in Mexico. Child’s name on passport and birth certificates must match to the letter.  


Visa application based on family allows for foreigners with a child born in Mexico to become a Permanent Resident (not a Temporary Resident) by applying in Mexico with no need to prove financials. Parent/s need a current FMM, child’s Mexican birth certificate and government issued ID, parent’s passport with exact same name as parent’s name on the child’s birth certificate. For a child not born in Mexico, the child applying under “family”must be under 18 and once the family member with a pre-approved visa has their visa issued in Mexico the remaining children apply as a Temporary Resident. Again, financials are not required. An adult may not sponsor a parent. Also, under family category please read above: ” obtaining visa through marriage to a visa holder” and “obtaining visa through marriage to a Mexican national”.


Obtaining a Visa Through Marriage to a Mexican National means no pre-approval at a Mexican consulate and no financials required. The process can be started in Mexico. Expat spouse must have a valid FMM tourist card. He/she will receive a 1-year Temporary Resident visa and in 12 months renew for one more year. After two years the person becomes a Permanent Resident. It is easier if married in Mexico or otherwise, marriage license must be apostille or legalized and both the license and the apostille must be translated by a certified translator in Mexico. Expat’s name on marriage license and passports must be identical.


Church Marriage in Mexico is not recognized by the Mexican government. One needs to have a civil marriage which is then registered.


To authenticate (Legalize) Canadian documents here is the information since Canadian documents cannot be apostille. American documents such as birth certificates and marriage license can be apostille in the state where issued.



Change of Status is to be reported to INM within 90 days including marriage, divorce, a death of spouse, address, employer, earning income, SAT taxation accounts changed to inactive, etc. to avoid a fine. It requires an online form to be completed. Then one presents a letter, passport, and visa plus other documents related to the issue. Your passport and visa will be returned immediately. In 3 plus weeks, you will receive an email from INM indicating the change is completed. INM no longer retains your visa allowing you to travel while your change is processed. In the event of the death of a spouse, you do not actually do the change for the person who passed away. You do the status change for the person who is now a widow/widower. It includes the death certificate plus copy, both passports and both visas plus copies. Required is a letter and online form. All is to be submitted within 90 days of the person’s passing. There is no fee. If you need help, pls. ask me.

The amounts are per person but some consulates will accept lower financials for a spouse. Consulates vary and may use different amounts taking into account exchange rates but most will not. What I post here are the laws issued by Mexican Immigration. Consulates are not a part of Immigration. There will be variables at consulates and they are not totally consistent. Some consulates want originals. I recommend you review your MX consulate web site. I am not responsible for those variables and the mood, knowledge, politics or skills of the person at the consulate.

Travel of minors  changed with a decree published on December 2, 2013, reforming the provisions of the Migratory Law Regulation corresponding to the travel of minors under 18 years of age; this took effect on January 24, 2014.

Foreign minors (under 18 years of age) traveling to Mexico or alone or with a third party of legal age (grandparent, aunt/uncle, etc) as visitors including tourists with a short study stay of up to 180 days, do not require authorization or a letter of consent from their parents or guardians. Mexican migratory authorities will allow these minors to leave Mexico upon presentation of a valid passport.

The Canadian government requirements for minors departing or entering Canada may be consulted at the following webpage: http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/children


Minors under 18 years of age (girls, boys, adolescents or those under legal guardianship) who are of Mexican nationality or foreigners holding the migratory status of Permanent Resident, Temporary Resident or Temporary Student Resident, who are in Mexico and wish to travel abroad alone or accompanied by a person of legal age other than one of their parents, must present:

Notarized document in which those holding parental authority or guardianship authorize the minor’s departure from Mexico, granted before a Notary Public or Commissioner of Oaths, or the document issued by the National Migration Institute (INM), in the format published for this purpose, available at the following webpage: www.inm.gob.mx

If the parents or holders of parental authority or guardianship choose to authorize the minor’s departure from Mexico with the document granted before a Notary Public or Commissioner of Oaths, the document must specify the mode of transportation, destination and date of travel. If this document is issued abroad (Canada) it must be legalized at the Mexican Consulate or the Embassy of Mexico in Canada. In addition, this document must be accompanied by a translation into Spanish. Mexican offices abroad do not provide translation services.

A minor, who is a tourist, who is in Mexico and who wishes to travel from Mexico alone or with someone one other than a parent requires the notarized document as noted above.

Minors under the age of 18 travelling with at least one of their parents or guardians DO NOT require authorization or a letter of consent.

All of my services will be available in Puerto Vallarta commencing January 21, 2019

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              2018 Immigration (INM) Fees 

              Tourist FMM: 500 pesos; replacement 500 pesos

Temporary Resident: 1 year $3,961 pesos, 2 years $5,936 pesos, 3 years $7,518 pesos, 4 years $8910 pesos

Regularization: $1,266 pesos (plus fines)

Permanent Resident: $4,828 pesos plus review fee $1266 pesos after 4 years as a Temporary Resident.

Work Permission (permiso para trabajar): $2,974 pesos

Lost / Stolen / Damaged Document Replacement: $1,220 pesos

Permission to Leave (travel letter): $405 pesos

Adoption Visa: $2886 pesos for visa being issued for the purpose of adopting

Humanitarian Visa: $0

Interested in seeing what I can do for you? Please call or email me to start the conversation. In completing the form to the right please ensure your email address is correct. If I do not respond it means likely there is a problem with the email address you submitted. Also, below is my email address. Gracias!!

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