The first thing you’ll need to begin your new life in Mexico is a visa. The type of visa you choose to apply for can dramatically affect your freedom of movement, or freedom to stay in Mexico. You’ll want to choose the right visa for your needs.
The FM-T Visa
An FM-T Visa, or Tourist Visa, allows you to remain in Mexico for up to six months at a time. If you intend to keep a home in the United States or Canada, and visit Mexico for less than six months at a time, this may be the best option for you. If you plan on staying in Mexico for longer then 6 months at a time, or if you wish to work in Mexico, you should obtain a “resident” visa, either an FM2 or FM3 (see below). FM-T Visas are extremely easy to get and only cost about $22us. You will receive the form on your flight to Mexico, and will have it stamped at the immigration office at the airport (the cost is included in your airline ticket). If you cross the border in a car, you should stop at the immigration kiosk to get your form. Extending an FM-T visa to 180 days can be difficult and costly which is why you ask for 180 days at immigration.
The FM3 Visa
An FM3 Visa allows you to remain in Mexico for up to one year at a time. At the end of each year, the FM3 Visa may be renewed (renewals should be requested 30 days before the expiration date of the visa). With an FM3 Visa, you may leave and enter Mexico freely, at any time, and you are allowed to work in Mexico. Getting an FM3 makes bringing your household items (including one car) into Mexico very easy.
Besides the list below, you need to submit a request letter ... but here in Manzanillo they give you a questionnaire that they then take the information from and complete the request letter for you. You just sign it!
You will need to submit the following:
Your passport and copies of every page.
Proof of income. This figure changes constantly. It is based on minimum wage (250 times the minimum wage in Mexico City) and fluctuates with the exchange rate. The current amount is $13,100.00 pesos per month (half that again for a married couple). This proof could be in the form of a bank statement showing your investments generate that amount or more, it could also be a letter from your consulate stating you receive social security, a pension, etc.
The monthly income requirements are possibly reduced by 50% if you own and reside in your Mexican home. If this is the case, be sure to include a notarized copy of either the deed (escritura) or trust.
All that is required is proof that the minimum income is deposited in any financial institution, anywhere with credibility, be it the US, Europe, or offshore institution. Even a stock brokerage account, showing the requisite income, has proved sufficient, both in obtaining an original FM-3, both within Mexico at the local immigration office and at an overseas Mexican Consulate.
If you are married and your spouse also wishes to apply for an FM-3, have your original marriage certificate authorized and translated at the Mexican Consulate nearest the place of marriage.
Proof of residence - Utility bills, rental contract, letter from the local municipio
A number of pictures to their specification
Once you have all of the above mentioned items, make
three copies of each and submit your package to
Normally, immigration stamps the original documents plus two sets of the copies with the date it was received. They keep the originals and one set of copies, the second set is for your files. It is habit to make the third set of copies as things can sometimes get misplaced.
The administrative "Fee" is about $1400.00 Pesos for your first FM3 and $1200 following years.
The FM2 Visa
An FM2 Visa might be a good option for those who wish to become Inmigrados (Permanent Residents who are not required to renew their visas every year. See the Inmigrado section for information on Inmigrado status). As an FM2 holder, you are considered an Immigrant, and may apply for Mexican citizenship after 5 years. FM2 Visa holders may not leave the country for more than 18 months during any five-year period, or they will lose their eligibility to apply for Inmigrado status; if an FM2 Visa holder leaves the country for longer than two years at a time, they will lose their status as an Immigrant. As an FM2 Visa holder, you may work in Mexico if you also apply for a work permit from Immigration , as long as the work is legal. You must also show proof of a certain amount of income when applying for an FM2 Rentista (Rentista Immigrante) Visa (see the Rentista section for information regarding Rentista Visas). The income required is less if you own your own home in Mexico. If you wish, you may also settle as a retiree, provided you can prove to the Mexican government that you can live on your savings, or on income from your investments, without needing additional income. While an FM2 removes the pain of having to renew your visa each year, it is more expensive and harder to receive than an FM3, and it is not recommended for retirees who intend to go back and forth to the US more then once a year. Click Here for applicable fees, documents you will need to file for an FM2, and a lawyer who can help you get it.
Rentista status may be issued to those who are 51 years of age or older, who intend to settle in Mexico without working. Applications for Rentista status must be accompanied by a letter from a bank or other financial institution, or from a government Social Security or pension agency, certifying the amount of money that the applicant receives each month. Copies of banks statements and proof that the account is really yours (check book, letter from your bank or even original statements may be enough). Those over 51 who intend to retire in Mexico are encouraged to apply for a Rentista type of FM2 or FM3 Visa.
“Inmigrado” (Permanent Resident Status)
After living in Mexico for five years on an FM2 Visa, you may make a “Declaratoria de Inmigrado,” and apply for Inmigrado status. As an Inmigrado, you may qualify to receive Mexican nationality, and you do not need to give up your home country citizenship.