• I need to establish in Mexico, but how do I know that I will need a visa?
If a person is coming to Mexico as a visitor or tourist, and depending on their nationality, they will or will not be required a tourist visa, which is normally valid for staying 180 days.
However, for anyone who needs to establish temporarily or permanently in Mexico, to perform activities other than those of a visitor or a tourist, a visa process must be started to allow their entry to the country under the category of the activities they will develop. Once that they enter into the country, they must also go through a residency process in order to stay.
• My family and I already have a USA Visa. Can this help the Immigration process for Mexico?
Many expatriates take for granted that if the USA has granted them a visa, there should be no problem even in skipping steps for Mexico or overlooking differences in names in birth certificates vs passports.
All the steps and regulations for obtaining a visa and residency must be achieved thoroughly and according to the Mexican law. Having a USA visa will not make any difference in the process. What may be accepted in the USA for obtaining their visa may not be accepted in Mexico and the due process must be followed.
• Where does the immigration process start?
For the persons requiring the visa, that is, for anyone not coming to the country as a visitor or tourist, but coming under a different category or activity, the process starts out of Mexico.
They must attend a consular interview at a General Consulate or Mexican Embassy abroad. Still, planning and collection of documents must be done in advance, and this normally starts in Mexico and is carried out by a specialized provider.
In order to get the authorization to ask for the consular interview, the Immigration Authority, and provided that the information is correctly submitted, takes from 4 to 6 weeks to issue the document for the expatriate to ask for the consular interview. The expat does this online and it is also subject to the available dates on the system.
• If I already have an arrival date, when do I have to start the Immigration Process?
The Immigration Process, that is, applying for the consular interview to obtain the visa, gathering of documents, planning an agenda to avoid any travels to Mexico once that the visa has been granted, should be started at least 2 months in advance.
This is particularly important when the person moving to Mexico is coming with family.
Though the family members will be entering as visitors or tourists, their vital records must be procured and legalized or apostilled accordingly to be eligible for obtaining their residency in Mexico. What will justify their stay in Mexico is the family bond with the family member entering the country with a visa, thus the importance of submitting the vital records and additional documents needed. Some countries are able to provide the documents very fast, but some others, even different cities in the same country may require additional steps and a much longer time.
• Once that I obtain the visa at the consular interview, what comes next?
This visa will be valid to be used only once for entering Mexico. Its validity is of six months. If not used within that six-months period, the whole process would have to be started again (2 more months at least).
Once that you have your visa and use it to come to Mexico, your stay will only be valid for 30 days counting from your entrance date. The next step will be to exchange this visa for a temporary residence card, with which our firm can also help you. Basically, the authority will require us to submit documents and information on your stay in order to authorize your temporary residence, which will have to be renewed in one year and up to four years. Depending on the city, this process will take from 4 to 6 weeks.
• If I have already started my immigration process, can I travel to Mexico?
Once that you have obtained your visa to enter Mexico, you cannot come to the country. This visa is granted for only one entrance to Mexico, which is the entrance in which you are supposed to enter the country and stay. Even during your stay, and as your residency process goes on (not more than 30 days after your arrival), you cannot leave Mexico. Only under extreme situations, the Immigration Authority would grant a permit to leave. Once that you obtain your residence card, you may leave and enter the country with no restriction.
This is why it is key to the process to anticipate local requirements, as procuring vital records and, depending on the nationality, having them legalized or apostilled, and going through processes with local consulates or embassies for any discrepancy in names appearing in the passports and different from birth certificates (which is very common for US and Canadian citizens) to mention some. Vital records must also be translated by a certified, government-approved translator.
Requirements may sometimes be tedious, but in the end, most of them are meant to provide assurance on the validity of the process, hence benefiting the rightfulness on the expats and families’ situation in Mexico.
• Does it make a difference in the residency process to go to live in one city in Mexico or in another?
Though obtaining the visa for Mexico does not depend on the city where the expatriates will live, the requirements for getting the residency, which is in most cases the next step to complete upon arrival to the country, have important variations depending on the city, especially for the family members of the expats.
• To what kind of visa should I apply if I am coming to Mexico to work for a Corporation?
If you are coming to Mexico to work, you will have to apply for a Visa which allows you to be employed in Mexico and receive a salary. The company offering you a work position must write a letter from their legal representative specifying the position and job description, as well as the salary to be earned. Submitting this letter to the Immigration Authority in Mexico is mandatory for granting the authorization for the consular interview.
This Visa is valid for the first 30 days of your stay, and before that period ends, it must be exchanged for a Temporary Resident Card valid for one year and renewable for the following four. This process gets started as soon as the expat enters the country with the work visa, and obtaining the Resident Card takes from 4 to 6 weeks.
• Can my spouse work in Mexico?
Your spouse can work in Mexico once that she/he has got a job offer and preferably once that she has the residency card based on the family bond with you. The company offering the job for your spouse must also have a ‘Constancia de Empleador’, which is the government authorization for hiring foreigners. If this is met, our firm can process a Work Permit which will allow your wife to work.
In case the company does not have this ‘Constancia de Empleador’, we can process it.
• Can my dog or cat come with me?
Yes, dogs and cats can come and stay with you. Our main recommendation is that you travel in an airline which is well-prepared for their handling and safety. Small cats and dogs can also travel in cabin with their owners and specific research must be done among different airlines. This is particularly important for breeds to whom travelling is very dangerous or fatal, like bulldogs and snub-nosed breeds.
Upon arrival you will be required to show the original certificate of good health issued by a certified veterinarian, certificate of rabies vaccine application and its validity, and they should have been internally and externally dewormed within previous six months. Your documents will be verified and your pet physically inspected.
We also recommend that your pet carries two different id-tags: the regular one from abroad and a new one with information from a trusted Mexican living in the city where you will be living. This is very helpful for quick localization and facilitates the communication in Spanish.
• Can I bring my car to Mexico?
Yes, the law contemplates that foreigners who will stay in Mexico can bring their cars. The car is registered as a temporary import when you cross the border and basically your permit of using it in Mexico will be tied to your residency status and renewals. A deposit ranging from 200 to 400 dollars is paid to the government, and this will be refunded upon departure of Mexico.
Still, there are important variables to consider, and which should be evaluated before deciding to bring it:
- There are restrictions as to whom should drive the car, being the expatriate, and his family members the only ones authorized, and in case that a non-relative needs to drive it, he cannot drive it by himself and must be accompanied by an authorized family member.
- Mexico City and the most important cities in the country, require regular anti-pollution verifications for all the automobiles. If a car does not comply to this, it will not be allowed to be driven in the city. Also, in Mexico City, and for cars 10 years or older, there is a one-day restriction for driving. Under extreme pollution circumstances, even new models will not be allowed to be driven.
- For the last years the danger due to criminality on the highways in Mexico has escalated. Unfortunately this is particularly true in specific states, many of them bordering with the USA. Before deciding to drive all the way, it is important to evaluate different scenarios for the convenience of bringing it.