Visas and Living in Mexico
In a previous post, we discussed entering and exiting Mexico on an FMM tourist permit. The FMM you are issued as you arrive in Mexico for vacations isn’t actually a visa and it’s granted pretty much automatically to visitors from the United States, Canada, and many other countries. But if you wish to live long-term or permanently in Mexico, or if you plan to purchase a home or property for sale in San Miguel de Allende, you will eventually want to apply for and receive a visa for tax purposes.
There are two types of Visas that are commonly applied for by foreigners wishing to live in Mexico long term: a Residente Temporal, or a Residente Permanente. Both types of visas have an income or net worth requirement to qualify and initial application occurs at a Mexican consulate in your home country. Check here for locations of Mexican Consulates.
A Residente Temporal is valid for 4 years, and initially grants a one year stay and then can be renewed annually for three more years, or at the end of your first year of residency, you can usually renew for three additional years freeing you from annual visits to your nearest immigration office.
A Residente Permanente grants you permanent residence in Mexico and does not require additional visits to immigration in Mexico unless you change your residence, employment status, or marital status.
The income requirements for both types of visas is based on a formula involving the minimum wage in Mexico City and changes from time to time. As of my last check, you can qualify for a Temporal by proving with 12 months of statements either a net worth of $22,000 US or $27,000 Canadian, or 6 months of statements showing income of $1,400 US/$1,800 Canadian (monthly). To prove your income you will need to show your income source be it pension, earned income, or investments.
The net worth requirements to qualify for a Residente Permanente is $90,000 US or $110,000 Canadian, or prove an income of $2,300 US or $2,800 Canadian (monthly).
As I mentioned above, the initial application for either type of visa occurs at a Mexican Consulate in your home country. There are additional requirements and strangely they vary from consulate to consulate. Some locations will require a criminal records check that you obtain and provide, and others do not. You may also be asked why you wish to live in Mexico. Confirm what documents you need to provide to your local Mexican consulate before appearing for your first appointment.
Once a Mexican consulate has approved you for a visa, your passport will be stamped with a temporary visa allowing you to enter Mexico within 6 months for 30 days. You will then need to report to Mexican Immigration and complete the visa application process. Different immigration offices process applications at different speeds, but assuming no complications expect it to take around 10 weeks. You can not leave Mexico during the application process until your application has been approved, and you’ve been asked to report to Immigration to provide fingerprints.
In San Miguel de Allende there are professionals who can help you with the in country processing of your visa and we’d be happy to recommend someone.
I mentioned above that if you are purchasing a home in San Miguel de Allende, your visa status is important when it comes time to sell. Having a permanent residence in Mexico and a Residente Permanente will permit you to exclude capital gains taxes on the sale of your property. We will discuss the capital gains exclusion in a future post, or feel free to contact us with questions.