The Tougher, More Expensive Mexican Residency Visa

Mexican residency visa

Looking like a criminal, but feeling like a legal Mexican.

If you go look up what you have to do and what it will cost you to become a legal resident of Mexico, you will find the great pros and cons of the ole World Wide Web on display. You will find plenty of information, yes. Enough to fill a whole day of reading if you’d like. If you read Spanish, two days. You’ll soon learn too that most of what you read will contradict what  you just read before.

So take all this as an anecdotal rundown of what a family of three had to go through under the new (as of late 2012) Mexican immigration laws. All this was far easier than it would have been for someone coming the other direction, but the general consensus among foreigners is that the current income limits are too high and that they’ll get rolled back because it’s affecting lots of people negatively, including those who develop and sell real estate to foreigners. For now though, the rules are the rules. But the rules aren’t really black and white, so your mileage can and probably will vary.

You Must Apply in Your Own Country

The biggest change over how things worked in years past is that you now must apply for residency before you get to Mexico. Before you could come on a tourist visa, apply after you got here, and before the former ran out you had the latter. Now you have to go to an embassy or consulate with stacks of papers, come back again because they thought of something you should have brought but didn’t, and pay $35 each to get a visa in your passport.

That visa is conditional, however. It is giving you permission to apply within 30 days of arriving in Mexico, and in that time you cannot leave the country. What did we have to show? Here’s the part that’s throwing people for a loop. We came in armed with IRA statements, college fund statements, closing papers for two houses we own, and even my books to show I was a real working writer. They barely glanced at all that though, because what the office we went to (in Orlando) really cared about was how much money was flowing through my checking account.

The way the laws are written, you are supposed to show $2,000 a month in income for yourself, $500 for each dependent if you want a temporary non-working residency visa. $2,500 if you want to be a permanent resident. But then the local consulate or embassy person can, on a whim, raise those limits on a case by case basis. They said since we weren’t retired, we had to show at least $4,000 a month in income and at a later point he said, “more than $5,000 a month.” Either way that’s an insane amount of income for someone living in central Mexico, especially since we own a house free and clear, but that’s what he wanted to see for a family of three.

We had to return a second time with documents that were not listed as required anywhere: a copy of our marriage certificate and an original birth certificate for my daughter. We had to bring 12 months of checking account statements, notarized by my bank, showing that I was making an average of that amount. Thankfully I qualified, but I hope they’re not this strict in every consulate because that amount probably puts me in the top 5% of Mexicans by income. A Canadian friend had a much easier time in Vancouver. He showed his pension check amount, his government retirement account amount, and that was it.

legal visa in Mexico

Our new morning view

The Visa Process in Mexico

Once we were in Mexico, we took a trip to San Miguel de Allende down the road to get official. Once there we had to pay a notary in an office next door to generate photos, forms, photocopies, and other bureaucracy. Some $50 later, we went to a bank to pay gobs of money that goes to the government. We went back to the office, took a number, and eventually turned all that in with a receipt from the bank showing we had paid the current equivalent of $260 each in pesos (3,130 each). First step done, but we needed to return again to give them our fingerprints. No, they couldn’t just take them at the same time because technically we weren’t approved to get our visas.

We came back eight days later when they told us to but it was a wasted trip. Apparently we should have checked our status online. We did actually, but read it wrong. So we went shopping.

A few days later, we returned again, an hour and 15 minutes each way. We took a number, two hours later gave our fingerprints, and went back home to Guanajuato.

A week after that, I went by myself and picked up all three CURP cards: their equivalent of our Social Security card but more of a national ID card. Technically my daughter can’t go to school here without a CURP number, though we managed to do so for a year before no problem.

All in all we spent more than $1,100 and loads of time to get legal. A year from now we have to do the local part of this all this over again and yes, pay that $260 each again. If we were staying more than two years we could renew for longer at that point though and get a bit of a discount.

Permanent Residency

If you want to become a permanent resident, you do all this for four years and then you can go from temporary to permanent. After that you don’t have to pay every year. And of course if someone is sponsoring you to come and work, you get a working temporary visa instead of mine, which says I’m earning my money outside the country.

Once you’re a permanent resident you get more perks and you don’t have to keep visiting an immigration office. In theory you’re still supposed to meet those income requirements, but for now since it’s all done within Mexico, people seem to be getting the benefit of the doubt. After you’ve been here four years, you’ve obviously found a way to keep supporting yourself, so you’re not considered a risky burden.

Should You Bother With All This?

When we first moved down here for a year, we decided to just take our chances and stay on tourist visas. You get 180 days upon arrival. We went away to Costa Rica once on vacation in the middle, then Donna and I both had to return to the U.S. once after that for something else. So our daughter was the only one who overstayed the 180 days the second time by a tad. They waved her through upon departure, no problem.

So if you’re only coming for 180 days or less, or you can leave in the middle, just come on a tourist visa and avoid all this trouble and expense. Plenty of snowbirds do just that every year. Six months at home, slightly less than six months in Mexico. Not a bad life…

Happy Mexican Independence Day!

  1. Tolbert Ennis

    And I thought Thailand was tough! Forget Mexico if they are making things that hard. They must enjoy shooting themselves in the foot. This post casts a shadow over all the good things that you and others have said about Mexico. Nothing turns me off like the message that I am not welcome.

    • Tim Leffel

      You can stay a lot longer in Mexico on a tourist visa than you can in Thailand. Few countries make it easy to become a legal resident, and you’ve got to admit the countries WE come are in many ways the toughest.

      • Nickolaus Matzinger

        I would never campare thailand and mexico.In thailand you have to be at least 50 for a retirement visa.

    • Leslie

      I gotta say, I just applied for my Resident Visa in Seattle. It was a very smooth and simple procedure for me. I just had three months of bank statements, a copy of my social security statement. Which was not even necessary as I won’t be able to access it for another 7 years, and my 401 k from previous job. That was it. I was interviewed for 5 minutes and told to wait for fingerprinting. I waited one hour and had my conditional Perm Res stamp in my passport. I have since gone to Immigration here in Mexico and have filed for my card which took another hour with the help of a lawyer who filled out the papers for me. It cost me $150 dollars. That was it. I am now waiting for one more fingerprinting and will collect my card. This is ONE account of this mans’ experience. Mine was a very smooth and simple procedure. I have many friends that have done the same. It was not a nightmare at all. Good luck.

      • Tim Leffel

        Glad to hear that Leslie! Thanks for sharing your experience here.

        I think I was early in the game and it was Orlando. Others have told me they had an easier time in Texas too. The process in Mexico is fairly straightforward, you just have to visit the office multiple times. If you’re in a city that already has an immigration office, no big deal. For some though it means back and forth three times. (For us Guanajuato to either Leon or San Miguel de Allende.)

      • Debbie Froehlich

        Hi Leslie,
        My husband and I are now retired and live near Seattle, We want to move to Mexico full time to live and buy a home there. We got our passports redone so they are up to date. Now I am confused as to what we need to do? We are going to buy a travel trailer and drive down. We plan to live in it for a couple of months until we buy a home. What is our next thing that we need to do? Where do we get the paperwork for our visa’s and what visa do we apply for. I have read so many things on this and am now very confussed. we are hoping to move there come the first of the year. Sounds like you know the process , could you please lead me in the right direction? Thank you

      • Brian Wilson

        I read your post regarding the ease of getting the temp residency sticker in your passport. I had the same experience, and it took me about an hour.
        My question is, did you actually need a lawyer to file for the card, or did you use him because of the possible language barrier?
        Unless there is some “legal” reason to use a lawyer, I think I can do it myself.

  2. Dave Sailer


    Based on your earlier experiences, I’ve been curious for a long time.

    Over the winter I spent six months in Ecuador and may go back, but have been exploring other options.

    As you say, the one thing you can count on is confusing, irrational, contradictory, and goofy “advice” from every quarter. But you — you I trust.

    This post came at the right time. I’ll keep checking back.

  3. Ramesh

    wow thats hard ! I am currently applying for Canada and I thought they have very hard rules :D

  4. d leonne

    hi tim; i read about Guanajauto on your blog;
    im now there enjoying the Cerventino Festival and have just posted an entry about it …on my blog..Travels with an Unconventional Senior…at

    thanks for the info; glad i found this city…

  5. Adam

    Doesn’t sound too bad. For Costa Rica, the list of documents includes all of those things, plus a lot of other stuff, including a letter from the police in the US (I never figured out whether it was local or state) that you aren’t a criminal, which has to be notarized. However, the worst part is the $5,000 to $7,000 in attorneys fees and costs, depending on who you talk to.

    Oh, and you only have a 90 day tourist visa in Costa Rica. You don’t have to leave every 90 days once you apply, unless, you want your US driver’s license to be valid, which only lasts 90 days regardless of your visa application. You cannot get a Costa Rican driver’s license until your residency visa has been granted. Want to risk driving without a valid license? Bad idea: your insurance is void, period.

    Mexico sounds pretty good.

    • Tim Leffel

      Yeah, Costa Rica was ironically the first country in Latin America to really open up to expats and offer big incentives for them to come there, buy property, and start a business. Then I think it freaked them out when so many took advantage of it. Now they’ve gone in the opposite direction.

  6. Hari

    Thanks for putting together this blog nicely :) this blog helped me clear some of my doubts, I have one question though, I got Temporary Resident Visa from Mexico Embassy from my country of residence and I am planning to travel to Mexico next month, I believe I need to submit FMM form and the fees receipt along with passport (or copy) at the INM office. Do I need to submit any other documents such as financial income proof or employment proof in Mexico at INM?

    • Tim Leffel

      Hari, you’re done with the paperwork proof part. In Mexico you need your passport and cash. You’ll have to submit some application forms at the office, some passport copies, visa copies, etc. And get your fingerprints taken. This all requires a few trips and close to $300. A tad more if you have a notary help with the papers, which saves some hassle.

      • Hari

        Thx! Gave my fingerprints last week….hope to get my resident card in next few days

        • Jose

          Hi Hari,
          Can you let me know how many days it was from the moment you went to the immigration office and actually get your card? Thanks in advance!

      • shannon clifon

        I want to know how i can get resident card un México now have passaport to stay only 180 days but like to stay longer love México

  7. 1coolguy

    I think that Mexico should lower their income requirements for retirees and potential permanent immigrants to $600 a month for the main applicant, and $300 or $400 for each additional household member (the last time that I checked was $1000 and 500, respectively). That way they would attract more retirees and permanent immigrants. Specially now that that the country has had so much bad publicity about their violence in some states and cities.

    • Tim Leffel

      They already have around a million expats here, so I don’t think they’re too concerned about some others not getting in, honestly. The property developers who would care are apparently not noticing any dip in business—the opposite since the economy is picking up. There are countries with lower income requirements though. See the posts on Nicaragua and Argentina, for a start. Guatemala’s is much lower too.

  8. Natalie

    How long did it take to get your temporary resident visa from the Mexican Consulate in the US?

    • Tim Leffel

      Just a couple days Natalie. We had to come back with some docs we didn’t know we needed, but they processed it the same day once we got approved. It’s the Mexican part that takes a few weeks, after arrival.

  9. Clamdo


    I’m from China, and I’m in Mexico by USA visa. Is it possible to get Temporary Resident Card from you?If yes, please contact me,thanks a lot.

    Best regards

  10. Jean Jewell

    Are you saying that each year we have to provide financials? We just picked up our temporary visas today and were told to come back next year – 1 month before expiry to renew. I’m not sure of the process then — I was thinking that we just have to pay the money

    • Tim Leffel

      Jean, the renewal is much less strict. You have to list your income and they may ask you where it comes from, but I haven’t had to supply documentation. I think they figure if you’ve managed to support yourself for a year already, you’re not a burden.

  11. Bill

    Hello, How does one plan on how many days to stay in Mexico to get the permanent residency card? You mention multiple visits to Mexico so what are the rules for when you need to return to Mexico to complete the next step? I live on the East Coast of US so would like to plan one trip to Mexico to pickup my permanent residency card but don’t know how long I have to stay in Mexico??

    • Tim Leffel

      Bill, it generally takes about a month from when you arrive and you can’t leave Mexico while it’s being processed. But maybe give it six weeks to be sure.

  12. bella

    Regarding fingerprints. Exactly what what are the authorities looking for? Any idea….I have a felony 12 yrs past adjudication withheld. I have a current usd income of $1,626/month. I keep reading about having $103k in “assets” or investments. Seems like mexico is only interested in high dollare retirees. Sad…… my current income is more than enough to pay my bills here in fla. It would be like $22,655.74mxn. Cost of livong cannot have gone up that much when you could live well on a thousand a month. Is there a visa specific to retirees where the I come requirements are easier and the process more streamlined….oh mmmmm I forget its mexico. Nothing is streamlined…lol.

    • Tim Leffel

      I believe part of the reason you have to apply in the USA now is so they’ll catch any criminal background and confirm you meet the income requirements before you get to Mexico. The fingerprints there are for any crime you might commit after arrival. With your income level though, I would either go elsewhere (like Nicaragua, where it’s $600 a month required) or just go for six months on a tourist visa and move on.

  13. Jose

    My wife recently (Wednesday) obtained her temporary resident visa. She will be travelling to Mexico on Saturday to do the visa “canje” for a card. Do you know if she can apply at the same time for a work visa? She does not have a job nor an offer. I would like for her to be able to work in the event she is interested too.
    Reason why I ask is that in the USA you cam apply for a work permit even without a job offer.
    Thanks, Jose
    I really woul

    • Tim Leffel

      My understanding is no. You need a local employment contract to get a work visa. Two separate applications.

  14. danny

    response from Consulate in Los Angeles , April 2015. Thanks for the other info provided. very helpful as the website is difficult to navigate.


    Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles.

    Transaction: Temporal Resident Visa RENTISTA

    You should schedule your appointment at [email protected]


    1. Valid Passport or Identity Travel Document. Original and a copy.

    2. A face front photograph with visible face without glasses, color printed, passport size with white background.

    3. Original and copy of document proving their legal status in the country. This requirement does not apply to U.S. nationals. ______________

    4. Fulfillment of any of the following requirements:

    Economic Solvency:

    · Bank Statements with a minimum monthly balance of $25,880.77 USD of the last 12 months (One document per every single month); or

    · Proof of employment or pension with a minimum monthly income of $1,552.85 USD of the last 6 months (One document per every single month).

    5.) Fill in the application form.

    6.) You should pay $36.00 USD as a issuing visa fee


    · Compliance with these requirements does not guarantee issuance of the visa, such issuance is subject to the outcome of the consular interview.

    · The visa process is not immediate and the consulate has 10 working days to resolve counted from the date when documents are received in accordance with the regulations of the general guidelines for issuing visas issued by secretaries of Interior and Foreign Affairs.

  15. Walton Fisher

    My wife and I started the process in Atlanta, GA (2014)- drove down to Playa Del Carmen and lined up at INM with the masses. It was a nightmare that would not end. If one talks to six different workers in the same room you will receive 6 8 different answers to the same question. It took about 10 trips to INM and 6 weeks to get the Residente Temporal.

    We have since moved to Cancun. We started the process for renewal online April 7 – three weeks before our expiration date. It is now May 15 and we are still being pushed around by the workers in the INM office in Cancun. One’s fate is in the hands and at the whims of the people behind the counter. Most have no idea what they are doing and arbitrarily enforce different requirements on different days. When told to return with an additional document that you were not told you needed in the first place; you arrive with the doc and are told you don’t need it to continue the process. Just another wasted day. This has happened 5 times in the last month.

    A few days ago we finally stepped up to the counter and worked with a reasonable person. She approved all our docs and did it with a smile. The Mexican people are among the most friendly and helpful people you will ever encounter but at INM they all have a look on their face and a demeanor that would put a North Korean border guard to shame.

    This process has taken so long that we are approaching the date when we must return to the States on a business trip. One cannot leave while all this is in process. The “pleasant” young woman said she would try to help. She returned with a supervisor who asked us to sign a form that stated that we had an appointment for May 29 at 1:00 pm and we should bring two witnesses with us who are Mexican nationals with their government ID’s and copies of the same. Before we could ask for a reason for the “witnesses” she turned and walked back to her office. We were left at the counter scratching our heads, something we are getting used to at this point.

    If appears that we have skipped a step in the process. We do not have to wait 30 days for an email notifying us to return for the next step which I believe is submitting new photos and being fingerprinted. Why the witnesses? No one knows. New rule?

    The good news is that we are renewing for 3 years (something we were told we could not do on our first visit) so we won’t be doing this again until it is time to apply for Residente Permanente. That should be a trip….

    FYI – my wife is Puerto Rican, speaks perfect Spanish, college educated and cannot understand the INM website or any of the staff in the INM office.

    I wish I could attach a pic of our million dollar view of the Caribbean Sea and Isla Mujeres. You would understand why we tolerate the bureaucracy that is part of Mexican life. Even the Mexicans have to deal with it. Most that we know express embarrassment that we have to experience this nightmare for the privilege of living here. Trust me it is worth it.


      If you are interested in coming to Mexico but however you are experiencing some trouble with the immigration applications and visas procedures we can take care of it by providing the most specialized professional assistance and legal consulting.

      We guarantee you the easiest and most confortable way to come to Mexico through our immigration services for more information contact us.

      We help you to obtain the visa and residency by taking care of you in every step of the way. We are specialized on dealing with the INM and many succesful cases suports our services.

  16. Orlando

    I met my economic solvency for my RT based on retirement account balances. Now I am about to fill out the “Formato Basico” and whatever procedures take place at the INAMI office.

    I am self employed and will continue to be deriving some income from “north of the border” but I want to make sure I say nothing either on the form or in person that will be a deal breaker. Any thoughts on this?

    • Tim Leffel

      They don’t care where your income is from, as long as it’s flowing through your bank account in enough quantity to make the minimum.

      • Ian

        The income requirement doesn’t matter if you have more than $26k in a bank account for the past year, right? I’m not a retiree — rather I’m young, and want to live in Mexico for 2 years while my girlfriend gets her postgraduate degree in Mexico. I have income but it’s sporadic. But if I’ve read things right, all I need is $26k in the bank account, right? Go back to the states, apply at a Mexican consulate, and I can come back to Mexico and legalize my status?

        • Tim Leffel

          In theory, yes, but they didn’t want to see any of my assets and didn’t care that we owned a home in Mexico already. They wanted to see bank statements showing income. That was Orlando. I’ve heard it’s easier in Texas. Or Canada.

  17. Alan

    Tim – is it still possible to apply directly for permanent residency if you have enough income or investment funds? The consulate websites around me (Texas) don’t have much info on this.


    • Tim Leffel

      You apply through your closest embassy or consulate in your home country. Or if you’re driving to Mexico you can hang around Texas for a bit and do it there. If you’re missing anything, they’ll tell you to come back with more papers. The key thing is, get notarized bank statements for the past six months in case. We had to come back with a marriage license copy too, plus our daughter’s birth certificate. After all that’s done, then you finalize in Mexico.

      • bill...

        Does anyone know anything about the Temporary Regularization Program for foreign nationals who entered Mexico before 11/09/2012 and have exceeded their authorized stay without starting another permit or visa process with a four year resident status? Is this a scam? I’ve seen it on a few websites. Thanks-bill…

      • Andrew

        According to my friends at Mexican consulates overseas, the amount is still a bit over US$100,000.

  18. Andrew

    My understanding is that you must apply in your country of citizenship. If you have another residency elsewhere, do you know if you can apply there? Or can you apply at any Mexican consulate wherever you may be (such as if you’re a digital nomad).

    With the exception of Thailand, Asia tends to be a lot easier than many Latin countries which continue to tighten requirements for not only residency but future naturalization.

  19. Anne

    Sydney Australia
    13th Jan 2016 2:27am
    Some great information I also found the comments a joy to read with much humour!
    Could someone inform me please of how I can obtain a work permit for Mexico and R.F.C. after I have my visa temporal or permanente. I am self employed as an independant
    distributor for a world wide company that operates in Mexico but they cannot sponsor me
    Many thanks, look forward to your replys


    God Bless

    • Tim Leffel

      You need a sponsor to get a work visa, almost anywhere in the world.

  20. Zach Matthias

    Thanks for writing this article, Tim. I married a Mexican in 2014 in Quintana Roo. Came on a tourist visa. Worked like a dog to try to survive on 200 pesos per day. Had a baby born through a midwife in Bacalar. My wife’s Immigration Visa was denied this month, so we are clearly between a rock and a hard place. I’m in Minnesota, just got a roofing job to try to save up again after giving everything to uncle Sam. Feel like I got raped. Now we are hoping to buy land in Mexico and live off the land, growing our own food. Chiapas, in particular. How can a poor man, like myself expect to be with my family when I can’t pay those bastards what they expect? Can you help us?

  21. Mario

    The Curp card is only for mexicans,

    • Tim Leffel

      Mine card clearly has “CURP” on it. That’s what all the immigration people and my daughter’s school principal call it. Never heard another name for it.

    • Marco Larios

      Para extranjeros que esten legalmente si pueden tener curp para sus tramites

  22. Sheriff

    Hi Tim, excellent post really enjoyed reading it and found it quite informative. We are Canadians from Ottawa we have a house in Quintana Roo, and have been spending 4-6 months of winter down there for the last 10 years. I can’t see the value of having temporary residency visa for us, is there any more benefits other than the long stay, especially as a property owner?

    • Tim Leffel

      We mostly did it because we had a kid in school and we wouldn’t be leaving the country with her every six months or less. If you’re already doing that, stay on tourist visas unless you eventually want to become a permanent resident. You need to be a legal resident for years before you can move to permanent status.

      • Roxana Hart

        This is response to 2016 post in 2018. You DO NOT need to be a temporary resident ‘for years’ before becoming permanent. If you have sufficient income, you can get a permanent residency visa ‘right out of the shoot.’

        • Tim Leffel

          Roxanne, I personally know two dozen permanent residents and haven’t met a single one who was able to get it “out of the shoot.” In theory one can be granted from your own country, but it seems to rarely happen unless you have family members living in Mexico. Officially per you can apply if you:

          – have certain close family connections in Mexico, or
          – apply for retirement status and prove they have sufficient monthly income (or substantial assets) to support themselves, or
          – have 4 consecutive years of regular status as Temporary Resident, or
          – have 2 consecutive years of regular status as Temporary Resident where that Temporary Visa was issued through marriage to a Mexican National or a foreign permanent resident, or
          – be granted residency on humanitarian grounds or through political asylum.

      • Alice

        Hi Tim, I just received my Visa for Temporary Residence. I’ll be staying in a temporary residence while I’m in Mexico City waiting to get approved for the Temporary Resident Card. My question, do I need to provide utility bills from the address where I’m staying? Like to prove its an actual address? I will be renting a suite from the owners/ hosts and not sure they would want me to have their utility bills. Do they ask for any utility bills?

        • Tim Leffel

          I don’t remember them asking for that. It wouldn’t make much sense because you don’t get utility bills right away anyway, plus your situation is pretty common, where utilities are included because there’s only one meter for the landlord’s house. I think you just need to provide an address, maybe a lease or sale contract. You have to go back several times anyway with payment receipts and the like (for the visa), so if there’s anything additional you will need, you’ll have time to come back with it.

  23. Yousaf

    hello I’m yousaf khan from Pakistan living in China I apply for Mexico tourist visa i hope i get the visa but let me know how can I get the permanent visa in Mexico? Please guide me thanks

  24. Olayemj

    I’ve not traveled out of my country before, but really want to,,, I dont have the means,,, lookin for someone who have the means and tosponsor me.. Am a Nigerian, and a God fearing personperson, u can contact me on 08077608602

  25. Karen Leyva

    Hi, I plan on moving to Lake Chapala and buying a guest house to do AirBnB. Is this something I need a work permit for, or is it something I shouldn’t even disclose?

    • Tim Leffel

      No work permit, but you have to either pay local lodging taxes or pay taxes on income in your home country and be able to demonstrate that. They’d probably prefer you did both…

  26. Scott Fulmer

    Tim, this is great stuff, thank you so much for making this information available and thanks to all who have contributed thus far. As of this writing, I had just downloaded my payroll statements for the last six months and gathering the various and sundry other documents needed in preparation for a Visa appointment here in Houston. That is, until I read your articles. Originally from Ohio, I was raised in Mexico City and later worked in Villahermosa for a couple of years while in the oilfield service industry, and had always thought I might return later in life. I took my wife to Mexico City in April for her first time to show her around. She absolutely loved it and wants to go back. Consequently I’ve planned a vacation to Mexico City for the first week in November, covertly stopping in San Miguel de Allende for a few days to further perpetuate my nefarious agenda, then on to Queretaro on the way down to D.F. to see if she’ll bite on the concept of retirement in Mexico.

    Until I read all of this here, my original thought was to secure my Temporary Resident Visa prior to our departure in November and have that out of the way for future visits and extended stays. I had no idea that the Visa was only a preliminary part of the process and that I’d be stuck in Mexico for what could well be a month or more completing the process and waiting for my resident card. I’m certain I have that latitude with my job should I choose to go that route, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable, however.

    Tim, My understanding is that I would have to complete my application in the city where I would be residing; San Miguel for example. Is this true, or would I be able to complete the process in say, Mexico City if that would prove more expedient. Do you have any information on that? Thank you again for your contributions, interesting and informative read, I do appreciate it.

    • Tim Leffel

      Do the scouting trip on a tourist visa. You get six months. Then come back to the states and apply for residency if you want to permanently move. You need to be prepared to stay in Mexico until it’s approved and you will have to go to the office twice more after the initial application in Mexico. Not a good time to be traveling around without a home base.

  27. Richard R

    Hi Tim. I’ve read your article many times. Great!! We are in the beginning process here in Los Angeles of obtaining our visa. (Appt. at Mexican Consulate) We meet the requirements for permanent resident but ran into a bit of a curveball when I researched Importing Cars into Mexico. Apparently you can on a Temp Visa but not able to do so on a Permanent Visa. Do you have any tips or thoughts on a way to proceed? Importing the car means hiring a licensed customs broker. Were you able to bring/obtain a vehicle successfully while there? Thanks so much for your time. R

  28. Karen

    Hi Tim,

    I constantly read that I need to be a resident in Mexico for 4 years to qualify as a citizen but so you know how many days per year or for the 4 years should I be there to qualify? Example, Canada required I think 2-3 years out of 5 years of me staying in Canada to qualify for citizenship

    • Tim Leffel

      It’s usually interpreted as four years with a residency permit, then you can get permanent status. I don’t think it’s actually citizenship though. Foreigners basically need to stay out of politics and can’t vote or demonstrate.

  29. Deneen

    I would like to become a permanent resident of Mexico and then a citizen. My husband is retired with a pension and we also have three minor children. Once we are issued our permanent residency card, how many days per year do we need to reside in Mexico? I am having a hard time finding out this information. I understand it take four years of being a permanent resident in order to be eligible for citizenship. But how much of the time do we need to be physically in Mexico? Ecuador is 9 months per year and my understanding in there isn’t this requirement in Panama. This is one of the most important considerations since we are not able to live in another country full time for a few more years but would like to get the process going ahead of time. Thank you

    • Tim Leffel

      I’m not an immigration expert, but I don’t believe there’s any such requirement in Mexico. You just can’t leave the country while your paperwork is being processed.

  30. Deneen

    Thank you for that answer. This is what I gathered from all the reading I’ve done as well.

    We are going to Mexico in March but only my husband can stay longer than two weeks in order to complete the permanent residency process. The question we are trying to figure out now is whether it makes more sense for him to start this and then the rest of us, myself and three minor children to finish in the future. We can qualify both ways but we don’t want to complicate and make this more difficult. It’s the scheduling that is tricky. Is there someone you recommend us working with so we can be sure to handle this correctly? We are leaning towards my husband doing this first and then us in the future.

    We are also hoping to connect with other expat families in the Yucatán and/ or Riviera Maya areas. Thank you, Deneen

    • Tim Leffel

      There’s very little chance you can get it done in two weeks so wait on residency until you’re really going to be residents. He could do it apart from you, but it might be smoother if he just returns to the U.S. when all of you are ready to go for real and you start the process then. You get six months on a tourist visa, after all.

      • Roxana

        I think you (and maybe some of the writers) are confusing residency with citizenship. Residency is NOT citizenship. Anyone can apply for citizenship (though I personally do not know the requirements); after that they can vote AND demonstrate. They will be citizens just like any other Mexican. Residents, on the other hand, cannot vote and can be deported for getting involved in politics.

  31. Phil

    Great info, thanks, Tim! Have a question, though. My wife is a Mexican citizen (passport, IFE card, etc.). Would this help in getting a Permanent Residency permit? Do I still have to begin with a temporary one or can I “pass go” and go straight to Permanent permit?

    • Tim Leffel

      I don’t think that speeds things up much, but I could be wrong. Consult a local attorney to see.

  32. Glen

    Great info, I was just denied a temporary visa from the St Paul Consulate and am going back to Mexico on a six month visa. Am I able t0 reapply for a temporary once in Mexico?
    I am thinking a lawyer is needed.

    • Tim Leffel

      For temporary residency you have to apply outside the country. But you could take a trip up to Lubbock or El Paso and do it at the border. You’ll just have to hang around a day or two. You get six months as a tourist though and you can keep going in and out like that.

  33. Nicole

    What if i do not meet the income or bank requirements? I am on disability and i only get $700 a month. Although i am married to a mexican citizen. How then can i get a resident visa to stay and live with my husband in mexico?

    • Tim Leffel

      I would assume if you have a Mexican husband it’s a different story.

  34. Tom

    Hello Tim: I’m preparing for my first (and hopefully only) visit to the consulate here in Denver to apply for a permanent residency visa. My appointment is for next month.
    I’m over 65 and draw $2,469 in social security benefits. I’d also qualify on IRA accounts if that isn’t enough income. I’m planning on bringing a year worth of statements from both my checking account (where the Social Security funds are deposited) and my IRA accounts. I realize it isn’t an either/or and that they will only use income or savings and not combine but I think there shouldn’t be a problem with demonstrating solvency.
    However, the Denver office has a requirement that I don’t understand. They want the statements “notarized” and they also want a letter, also “notarized”, from the bank saying how these funds will be available in Mexico. I spoke with one of my banks and they said they don’t notarize things like statements, only signatures. Any ideas on what they really want and how I can satisfy them?
    Thanks in advance, Tom

    • Tim Leffel

      The bank statements can be notarized anywhere if you sign each one. They need to know you can pull funds from your bank with an ATM card, which you can probably prove via some page on their site about international access.

  35. Tom

    Hi again Tim, The trip to the Consulate here in Denver went very smoothly and in a matter of a couple of hours I had my Residente Permanente visa in my passport. I understand my next step is the canje process and a few trips to the INM in Guaymas.

    I am curious about one thing in regard to the INM office. Can they decide to not give you a residency card or is that decision purely one of the consulate and the canje process and it’s subsequent visits to the INM just a bureaucratic process for getting the actual card?

    I’m sure others have wondered about this facet s well and I haven’t been able to find any examples of anyone being refused a card once they have been approved by their consulate.

    Just wondering….


    • Tim Leffel

      If you play by the rules, there’s no reason you should be denied. I haven’t heard of it happening.

  36. Ken

    From what I am reading, it sounds more difficult, or complicated, to get residency if you are under retirement age and just living off of saving, without social security or a pension. Is that a fair assumption?

    • Tim Leffel

      If you have sufficient income it’s no problem, but if you’re making less than they require, you are better off just staying on a tourist visa. They don’t treat savings as income unless it’s flowing through your checking account. This doesn’t mean your particular office won’t look at a big savings balance and say “good enough,” but technically they want you to have a steady income you can illustrate.

  37. PG

    It’s a Great Information Tim!
    I am an alien worker living in USA on a VISA. If I have sufficient funds,Can apply for Temporary/Permanent Residency from a consulate in USA or DO I necessarily have to start the process in my home country??Also I am not anywhere near retirement age.
    Also if I do get Temporary Visa would I get an extension after 1 year, just based on savings in the bank??
    Thank you so much for your help.

    • Tim Leffel

      I would assume it depends on whatever policy is in place for your home country, not for the USA. You would need to research that yourself on the embassy sites to determine your eligibility.

      • PG

        Thanks Tim,

        I have a bank balance of 100K USD. Would it be any easier to get permanent residency directly??


        • Tim Leffel

          Hard to say – it depends on the embassy/consulate personnel. They have discretion on how much to weight savings. Bring everything you can and see. Whatever shows you can easily support yourself.

  38. Michael Smale

    The Mexican Embassy in LA is great….Paloma helped me with everything…had my visa in my passport within 90 minutes. I then had great service in Mexico City at immigration….had my temporary visa card in 3 weeks. The staff in the Mexico City office were super accommodating.

  39. Victoria

    Thanks for all of the information. My husband and I are both musicians looking to relocate to Mexico City on a temporary residence visa. He, specifically, is in a touring band that pays him a set monthly salary well over the required limit to cover both of us. However, we were turned away at the NYC consulate as they said it’s not the income that matters, but the ending account balance each month on our bank statements.

    I’m guessing this was just bad luck and we will have to try again at a different consulate. But I’m wondering if there was any validity to what we were told.

    • Tim Leffel

      It’s not consistent, unfortunately. For me all they seemed to care about what how much was coming into my checking account each month, not what was left after paying bills. After all, your bills will change as soon as you move. They also didn’t look at assets, or the fact I was a homeowner in Mexico, which is dumb. I have heard you will have a much easier time at consulates in Texas because they have far more experience doing this every day. I would go to one of the border cities there first as it only takes a day or two to apply. Bring notarized copies of bank statements. You may want to shift some savings to your checking account too just to look better.

  40. David

    Great info!

    Couple of questions?

    Do they need to see money balance for every month for 12 months? Or are they looking at the last statement balance and want to see the last 11 statements to just check? I had money I transferred into my accounts 2 months ago.

    For example it is $25,000. So they need to see $25,000 *every* month for 12 months?

    All – there are a lot of deposits, etc running through my account. Could I just call those income? Like $5-10k a month.


    • Tim Leffel

      They’re just looking at what’s coming in from month to month. So any deposit will show up as income.

      • David

        Thanks Tim.

        Do the solvency with bank accounts – and not income – how do they come up with the monthly average? Or are they looking to see if you have the roughly $25,000 now?

        And for income – easier to just show the deposits and forget about the $25,000 or so in savings above?


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