Where are foreigners coming from and where do expats live in Mexico?


Immigration in Mexico

Foreigners arrive daily in its territory and decide to stay in the country indefinitely. The National Institute of Immigration and the INEGI are the only institutions that compile official statistics on foreigners who have a legal stay of more than six months since they entered the country, however, the difficult situation of control at the borders and national customs prevents having an exact count of entry of foreigners, their origin and destination. 80% of foreigners living in Mexico come from neighboring countries

Thousands of foreigners decided to make a life in Mexico, for which they have put their papers in order.

Due to its location, which connects the south of the American Continent with the United States, Mexico is a transit country for migrants as well, but it has also become a place of residence for hundreds of thousands of Expats who decided to live in Mexico.

According to figures from the National Institute of Migration (INM), corresponding to the last year 2021, more than 605,000 people of 199 different nationalities have some type of permit to reside temporarily or permanently in Mexico, either for reasons of work, study, humanitarian, or for having formed a family with a Mexican, among others.

The information, obtained via the transparency law, reveals that the majority of foreigners who live legally in Mexico come from the United States, Venezuela, Honduras, Cuba, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, China, Spain, Argentina, Canada, Brazil, Haiti, Japan, Korea, France, Italy, Germany, Peru, and Chile.

However, there are also those from India, Ukraine, Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Serbia, Iraq, Nepal, and up to twenty North Korean citizens.

Although these people have dispersed throughout the national territory, there are certain places where the majority congregate, thus forming communities of different nationalities.


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The Americans, for example, are mainly concentrated in Chapala and Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco; Los Cabos, BCS; San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato; and Puerto Peñasco, in Sonora. Canadians share their taste for Chapala, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, although other groups have chosen to live in Bahía de Banderas, Nayarit, and Mazatlán, Sinaloa.

The Chinese are well known for their historical presence in northern Baja California, however, they also live in the country’s capital. The INM has registered more Chinese living legally in the Cuauhtémoc mayor’s office in Mexico City than in Mexicali, where the famous neighborhood of La Chinesca is located.

Most Central Americans who have permission to live in national territory prefer the southeast as their place of residence, very close to their native countries. They live mainly in the municipalities of Tapachula and Suchiate, in Chiapas. Still, others live in Tijuana, probably because they cannot cross into the United States.

But there are also Honduran communities in Saltillo, Coahuila, and in the Iztacalco mayor’s office in Mexico City, Salvadorans in Guadalajara, and Guatemalans in Cancún.

Speaking of Cancun, people of different nationalities have this tourist site located in Quintana Roo as their main destination. This is the case for the Cubans, Russians, and Ukrainians. In the Riviera Maya, there is also an important presence of Spaniards, Argentines, and Italians.

Other regions have become a magnet for foreigners due to the companies that settle in those places. For example, most Germans living in Mexico are located in San Andrés Cholula, Puebla, an hour’s drive from where the plant of the German company Audi is located.

Something similar happens with the Korean community living in Apodaca and Monterrey, in Nuevo León, half an hour from the plant where Kia cars are manufactured; Japanese in Aguascalientes, where the Nissan plant is located, and also in the state of Guanajuato, where Honda, Mazda, and Toyota are installed.

Another case is that of the community of people from India, are mainly concentrated in Zapopan and Guadalajara, Jalisco, attracted by the high-tech industry that is developing in that region.

According to the data, 55 percent of foreigners with permission to live in Mexico are men and 45 percent are women. In terms of age, half are in the range of 25 to 44 years, while a fifth are adults over 55 years of age.

Likewise, 60 percent have a permanent residence card, 25 percent have a temporary residence card, 10 percent have a visitor’s card for humanitarian reasons, 5 percent have a student card. There are also 34 people who have a visitor’s card for adoption purposes.

Mexico: immigrants with legal residence by nationality 2020

Published by Statista Research Department, Mar 16, 2022, In 2020, around 1.2 million foreigners resided in Mexico, Of these, 65.8% had US nationality almost 800,000, while 4.7% were Guatemalan and 4.4% Venezuelan. Now, both Guatemala and the United States share a border with Mexico, and the case of Venezuela stands out. And it is that the South American country has seen in recent years a huge outflow of its population to different nations. Specifically, Mexico was the tenth country that received the most Venezuelans in 2019, a list led by Colombia.

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