The visa process for Mexico changed dramatically in 2013!

There are now three basic types of visas: Visitante, Residente Temporal and Residente Permanente. The last two are the ones used by expats who want to live in Mexico, and those are the ones I will address here: 1) Temporary Resident Visa (“Residente Temporal”), and 2) Permanent Residence Visa (“Residente Permanente”).

First time resident visa:  If you want to upgrade your status from tourist (Visitante) to Residente Temporal, or Residente Permanente, now you have to:

  • Return to your home country before your tourist visa expires (which you would have to do even if you don’t want to change your visa status),
  • Apply for a resident visa in an embassy or consulate there,
  • Once your application is accepted, go to the INM office nearest to where you plan to live in Mexico to obtain your visa.

Again, for a first-time resident visa, you will have to apply for your visa through the Mexican consulate in your home country (and state), and will be able to receive it only at the nearest INM office in Mexico.

To begin, renew or change your immigration status, you start here by filling out an online application and receiving a NUE (file number). 

[Note: Clicking on the “English” option at the top of the page will take you only to the website’s “Home” page – the only page in English. I suggest using any of the built-in search engine translators which do a fair job of making the form and instructions usable for English-speakers.]

Though you must start the process at a Consulate in the U.S. or Canada, you can only complete it and obtain your visa at the INM office nearest to where you will live in Mexico. There are two other significant changes – it will now only take four years (as opposed to five) to become eligible for permanent resident status, and you can purchase a temporary visa for a period of from one to four years (as opposed to needing to renew every year under the old FM visa system). And, after four years as a “Temporal” resident, you must change to the “Permanente” status.

As with all processes involving any official government paperwork, you will need documentation. To obtain your Residente visa, you will need to provide the following:

a)  Proof of sufficient monthly income, see chart below (2013 Federal District minimum wage [“FDMW”] = 64.76 MXN; exchange rate used = 12.00 MXN/$1 [approximate exchange rate effective May 1st]):

Visa Type

Produce documentation showing

In Pesos

In Dollars

Residente Temporal

Monthly income of:

400 X FDMW



Avg daily acct balance of:

20,000 X FDMW



Residente Permanente

Monthly income of:

500 X FDMW



Avg daily acct balance of:

25,000 X FDMW



Income can be documented by:

  1. Six (as opposed to the old requirement of three) of your most recent months’ bank statements, or the current year statement from Social Security stating your monthly allotment amount, and/or a statement of distributions by your retirement fund. Or, any combination of them that shows you meet the minimum income level requirement.
  2. Or, statements documenting the balance (bank or investment) showing that your account meets the average daily balance requirement shown above in the chart.

b) Proof of address, such as a utility bill (which does not have to be in your name), or bank statement (this does have to be in your name).

c) Three photos in color, infantil size – two front and one side, with the ears and forehead uncovered, and without jewelry or glasses.

d) A letter of application (from INM internet site), or the “NUE” number of your application; however, a copy of the accepted application with the NUE number is best. Once your number is issued, you can track the progress of your visa here: Visa Tracking online.

e) Original and copies of US passport.

Or, use the Real Estate Property Owner Method: (Residente Temporal) Own/have real property trustee rights, with a value equivalent to forty thousand days of general minimum wage in the Federal District, with original and copy of written proof from a Notario. At the current $12:1 exchange rate, this equals: ± $216,000 USD (exactly $2,590,400 pesos) worth of property for one Residente Temporal.


I suggest for your first application that you bring your birth certificate and marriage license (if appropriate) and, of course, a copy of each.

And, as a precaution against having to make a second or third trip to INM office, I also suggest having two copies of everything. If you pay extra to get it done, the cost is nominal, and not losing your place in line to go get another copy made is well worth the extra expense.

The 2013 filing fees are:



Residente Temporal 3,130 MXN/1 year4,690 MXN/2 years5,940 MXN/3 years7,040 MXN/4 years
Residente Permanente 3,815 MXN one time


1. What is the difference between Temporal and Permanente? · Temporal is good for up to four years with a fee for each year (payable each year, or in any combination, or as a one-time fee). After four years on a Temporal Visa, you must change to a Permanente.· Permanente permits you to live in Mexico indefinitely with a one-time fee, after four years residence.
2. Do the years under the FM system count toward the Residente visas? Yes
3. What are the time options for each visa? Temporal: 1 to 4 yearsPermanente: No limit
4. Changing from an FM visa to a Permanente (or Temporal) can be done in Mexico? Yes, if you have had an FM2 or FM3 for the 4 previous years.
5. How are the income requirements when dealing with a husband and a wife based? On, combined incomes? It can be if you want; for instance, if only one of you has the basic qualifying income, or account balance.To include a spouse, or any other qualifying family member, you add 100 to the number of days required for the valid Residente visa – per person. You will also need documentation proving the relationship (i.e., an apostilled marriage license).To add your spouse to your Residente Temporal, you add 100 to the 400 days of FDMW. So, for you to qualify as a couple, you need 500 days of FDMW or, $32,380 MXN, or $2590 USD income per month.For all other purposes, a “family” visa adjunct is treated individually.

La Vista Verdad (how it’s really working . . .)


Update 2/15/2013: ALMOST ALL INM offices are NOT requiring proof of income from existing FM2 or FM3 holders, and ALMOST ALL INM offices are dividing the income requirements in HALF for applicants who own property in Mexico – which lowers the bar to just $950 (at 12:1, $1350) USD in income requirements for typical expats already living in Mexico: a 25% REDUCTION in income required. Sweeet ~ They want us to stay!

Original comments: Many people from different INM offices across Mexico are now reporting that they are now receiving their Permanent Residency cards. One consistent and dominant theme is that NONE of them had to submit financial documents when applying. Some of these successful individuals had No Inmigrante Rentista permits (retiree FM3), others were transferring from “working FM3s”, and others had Inmigrante (FM2s). One individual simply had to sign a letter saying that he continued to have the same financial situation and same income as in the past. Even, INM offices like the one in Mazatlan that initially required “proof of solvency,” have now dropped the requirements. We have also read a substantial number of consistent personal reports from across Mexico that say that the individual regional offices are using a combination of financial deposits, small pension income, small SSI income, and property ownership to prove Personal Fiscal Solvency.

From RollyBrook – My Life in Mexico:

The “Family Plan” allows other members of a family to receive a Residente card without having to show financial means after the head of the family has met the financial requirement for him/herself. It works like this: The head of the family secures a Residente card (Temporal or Permanente). The rest of the family enters with Visitants. Then each member fills out all the application paperwork, gets photos, passport copies, etc. Take all this to the INM and apply as a family. There will be more paperwork at the office. Each person will have to pay the card fee. The family group plan only covers the financial requirement; after that each person is treated as an individual card holder.

From MyMexicanLawyer:

I was told this morning that RENTISTAS would need to prove their income via a letter from their respective SSA, apostilled and officially translated, stating that the foreigner receives some type of pension (any amount).

From the SanDiego Reader:

Reference Lineamientos, Tramite 5: Visa de Residencia Temporal: Requisito IV: Section d, Item 1, iii. and Item 2, iii, of Immigration Laws. This adds an additional 100 days minimum wage for the spouse of a couple seeking a temporary or permanent visa. This would make the monthly income requirement of a couple seeking a temporary resident visa in Mexico 500 days, or $2,590 (at 12:1, $2,698) per month and the income requirement for a permanent resident visa would be 600 days, or $3,108 (at 12:1, $3,238) per month. However, this still puts a visa out of the reach of most people living on Social Security.

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