Immigration & Visas, Money

Mexican Immigration Begins to Adopt UMA for Residency Qualification

A change in the way economic solvency is calculated makes legal residency in Mexico accessible to more people, including retirees with a pension income

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Article fully revised and updated for 2021

As we explained in a related article, back in 2016 the Mexican government began to decouple the official daily minimum wage from a whole range of fees, fines and other official calculations, and introduced a ‘transitional’ measure, known as Unidad de Medida y Actualización (UMA) — that has since enabled minimum salaries to be increased significantly without the corresponding and potentially punitive rises in public charges and fees.

The decree, made law in 2016, directed all Mexican ministries to use UMA instead of Minimum Salary as a basis for their economic calculations.  However, the INM (National Immigration Institute) continued to use the Minimum Salary as a basis for assessing applicants’ economic solvency for legal residency for a time.

Mexico’s minimum salary has been increased by inflation-busting rises year-on-year between 2017 and 2021, and thus qualification criteria tightened substantially making it difficult (and for some, impossible) to qualify for legal residency in Mexico on the basis of their pension income, or savings.

Since the autumn of 2020, INM offices in Mexico began to use UMA instead of minimum daily salaries as a basis for the economic solvency calculations.  This change creates a substantial reduction in the level of income or savings required to qualify for legal residency in Mexico.

Multiples of daily Minimum Salary vs UMA

Under Mexican immigration law, people applying for residency on the basis of ‘economic solvency’ (i.e., proving you can sustain yourself here), need to demonstrate multiples of the daily minimum salary (being replaced by UMA) as a minimum income or savings/investment fund.

The ‘number of days’ multiplier stipulated by immigration law to qualify for residency under the rules of economic solvency doesn’t change, but the value it’s multiplied by does change.  This is because the daily minimum salary has risen by over 70% since 2016, but the UMA value has risen by only around 22% over the same period.

Example of how economic solvency criteria reduce under UMA

Suppose that you wish to apply for Temporary Residency in Mexico under the auspice of ‘economic solvency’ using your income or savings.  The law stipulates that you will need to demonstrate that your monthly income over the last six months is equivalent to at least 300 days of Minimum Salary (UMA).  If you use your savings/investment to qualify, you’ll need to demonstrate a savings balance over the last 12 months equivalent to at least 5,000 days of Minimum Salary (UMA).

In 2021, the Minimum Salary was raised to $141.70 pesos, and UMA rose to $89.62 pesos.  These amounts are multiplied by 300x when applying for residency using your income, or 5000x when applying using your savings.  Here are the calculations:

Temporary Residency Monthly Income (300x) Savings/Investment (5,000x)
Minimum Salary ($141.70) MXN$42,510 | USD$2,237 MXN$708,500 | USD$37,289
UMA ($89.62) MXN$26,886 | USD$1,415 MXN$448,100 | USD$23,584

The calculations show how, when the UMA value is applied to calculation, the level of income or savings required to qualify for legal residency is reduced by about 40%.  This is because the Mexico’s minimum salary has been purposely increased by levels way above inflation over the last several years, whereas UMA has risen only by the official rate of inflation over the same period.

The average Social Security check for a retired worker in the US is about USD $1,421 per month (December 2020).  When UMA values are applied to the calculation, American retirees are now more able to qualify for legal residency in Mexico; and for those with a savings balance, they can now qualify with two-fifths less savings in the bank: ~US$23,000 instead of ~US$37,000.

The UMA multiplier will be relevant whether you apply for Temporary or Permanent residency, whether you are applying on the basis of economic solvency or family unit, and whether you use your income, accumulated savings, Mexican house value, or investment capital as a basis for proving your economic solvency.

Read our article about Financial Criteria for Legal Residency in Mexico to see qualification criteria for different types of residency permits.

* Calculations based on 19 Mexican pesos to 1 US dollar. In practice, each Mexican Consulate abroad uses slightly different exchange rates so their calculations may be higher or lower than the values quoted in these examples.

Important Points to Note

Transition period at Immigration Offices: We are seeing evidence that Immigration Offices in Mexico are currently transitioning away from using multiples of Minimum Salary, and switching to multiples of UMA, and it will likely take some time for all offices to apply the UMA standard uniformly, as they did with Minimum Salary.

Mexican Consulates abroad: Most people begin their residency application at a Mexican Consulate abroad.  When determining economic solvency, the consulates quote the required income and saving values in the foreign currency of the country where the consulate is situated, and these figures may still be based on the higher Minimum Salary multiples instead of the lower UMA multiples.  It is likely to take some time for all consulates to transition to UMA.  If your income or savings are on the cusp of qualification, you might ask the Mexican consulate you apply at whether they are using Minimum Salaries or UMA as a basis for their economic solvency calculations.

Exchange rates: As we mentioned in the article about financial criteria for residency qualification, Mexican Consulates abroad use exchange rates that might not reflect the current market rates between the Mexican peso and the foreign currency in the country you are applying from, and rates can also vary between consulates, so the levels of income or savings you are asked to provide will depend on the consulate you apply at.

Get full details with the latest Mexico Immigration Guide – Now a Free eBook
For a detailed guide that explains all the visa types download a copy of the fully-updated Mexico Immigration Guide

Get help with your application using Immigration Assistance
If you need personal assistance to help you prepare your application (for example, completing the application forms, writing the covering letter, etc.), deal with renewal procedures, or advice with troubleshooting, consider using our Mexico Immigration Assistance service.

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27 Comments

  1. Krysti says

    Is there a list of which US/Mexican Embassies are using the UMA calculation (rather than the MS)? I’m one of those on the edge 🙁

  2. Eduardo says

    Thanks for all the info, you really get into the details, not just generalities.

    Very interesting reading the ‘new’ reg’s coming online for those of us entrepreneurs that have cash in the bank, but no monthly pension.
    This is a big plus for retirees, and quite smart of Mexico, definitely moves Mexico up to number 2 on the list.

  3. Marie says

    I think some people are confused about what constitutes a ‘family unit’. It does not refer to parent/child or spouses; your ebook makes it very clear that it is a specific situation for people with family ties to Mexico. Your eBook is very very informative, and I thank you. Everyone should read it and re-read it. It explains everything, even why we were given conflicting information at the Mexico Consulate! My husband and I are here on a temporary residency.

  4. Vincent says

    Hi,

    PR applicant here (savings).
    So, an average 12 month savings balance of USD$94,337 would qualify me?
    I read in your PDF they look at cash/cash-like investments.
    Is crypto a cash-like investment?
    Do you can freely spend that money once you have the visa?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Vincent,
      We checked and Consulates do not accept Crytpo balances as part of the range of cash and “cash like investments” they accept for qualification. Investments like 401k etc do qualify.

      You can spend the money afterward, but note that if you apply for temporary residency you MIGHT be asked to show savings/investments when you apply for renewal of the permit.

      If you need further help, our Mexico Immigration Assistance can help – see
      https://www.mexperience.com/lifestyle/living-in-mexico/relocation-consulting-request/

  5. Dennis Humphrey says

    I spent the better part of today going to different consulates across the US. Could not find any that use uma for their requirements. Numbers ranged from around 1500 to over 3000 dollars, but none had the lower uma numbers. I know the minimum wage will be going up again in January 2022. We are planning on applying for temporary residency in 2022. Hopefully some will switch over to uma next year.

  6. Marlin Mills says

    Hello. Someone asked me this question, and I really don’t know. Does Mexico accept a same-sex legal marriage from the US as a family unit for residency purposes, or would they have to apply separately. Apparently, one of them may not be able to qualify alone. thanks.

  7. Mary C Fielding says

    I am in Canada and as retiree will apply for permanent residency. More than enough income and own home in Mexico. My question is all my bank statements and investments are online so can I print copies even though they say Originals or must I ask my banks for originals. Thank you for your answer. Mary F

  8. Matt says

    I’m always given different answers to this question by people but you will know 🙂
    Permanent Residency via Savings:
    Do BOTH husband and wife each need to qualify separately to each get Perm Res?
    Or do one of us HAVE to go Temp no matter what?
    Thanks

  9. Barbara Mearns says

    I just received my temporary resident visa. I was a little under the financial requirement for permanent residency so am a little disappointed. When it comes time for me to renew my visa can I then apply for permanent residency or do I have to renew my temporary residency for three years?
    Gracias

  10. derék says

    I am planning to apply this Temporary resident visa in a Mexico Consulate in the States in South California, and it seems they have many Consulate locations (San Bernardino / Santa Ana for Orange County and Los Angeles / and San Diego, and can I also choose Las Vegas? ) and the requirements are very inconsistent,

    So technically I may qualify at one consulate but not another, so a question is can I go to another location to apply the visa? Because I don’t see any proof of address requirement? I don’t have to choose the closest one?

    The San Bernardino looks the closest to where I live now, but it has two extra requirements of “housing in Mexico” and “Proof of no criminal record” which I don’t see anywhere else mentioned as requirements of a Temporary resident visa, the Consulate in Las Vegas looks like the easier one, wonder if anyone can share experiences?

  11. Casey Scott says

    You mention a Family Unit application? We are a retired couple (residing in Costa Rica presently) plus my spouse’s elderly, invalid mother lives with us. She has no income or savings. Could she qualify for residence along with us (we have enough income or savings to cover her)?

  12. Bob F says

    I sent an email to the consulate in Orlando asking for temp and perm visa requirements and was told in writing that for a temp visa there was a monthly income requirements of $2,500 or 12 months of a savings balance of 20,000 days of Mexican minimum wage or approx $120,000. For a permanent visa the monthly income went up to $3,000 and the savings went up to 25,000 times the Mexican daily minimum wage or approximately $155,000. Is there any consistency to this process at all or is it completely arbitrary? Just to be dare, I was also told to have an original passport with copies of the identification pages, a passport photo with white background facing forward, and $40 cash visa fee. Based on other articles I have read I have no idea how to proceed or what to expect to be prepared to provide for savings or documentation. What is the truth?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Bob,

      As we mentioned in the article, Mexican Consulates abroad may still be using the Minimum Salary value instead of UMA. They should, however, be applying the legal number of days as per the immigratin rules, e.g. monthly income equivalent of 300 days Minimum Salary or UMA for temporary residency [the multiple of days for Permanent Residency is significantly higher].

      In practice, Mexican Consulates in the United States quote a figure in US dollars – they don’t typically show the calculations. These figures vary, usually depending on the foreign currency exchange rate they apply; and the precise amounts also vary between consulates in different cities.

      The application process does require you to complete a form and provide ID and a photograph, and there is a US$40 visa application fee. These procedures, and the fact that there are inconsistencies between consulates, are detailed in the Mexico Immigration Guide that you can download for free (see link in the article).

      If you need assistance with the application, you might consider using the Immigration Assistance Service, details here:
      https://www.mexperience.com/lifestyle/living-in-mexico/relocation-consulting-request/

  13. John Mooney says

    You have stated that immigration issues, to mexico, usually begin at Mexican consulates, outside of Mexico, and, specifically referring to permanent Mexican residency status, they must be obtained at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico. I met with authorities at the Mexican consulate in San Antonio, early this month, September, and was informed they do not perform that function, and all immigration issues MUST be accomplished with immigration authorities, IN Mexico.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi John,

      Except in a small few circumstances (mostly Family Unit applications) all initial residency applications (for temporary or permanent residency) must begin at a Mexican Consulate *outside* of Mexico.

      If you already have Temporary Residency status (i.e. a temporary residency card), renewals of that status and any applications for change of that status from Temporary to Permanent Residency are only undertaken at an immigration office inside Mexico.

      The immigration rules are very clear about this.

      You can find details in our Mexico Immigration Guide (link in the article above).

      • James says

        I was planning to apply in San Antonio shortly, within the next 30 days. Now, after reading John’s experience, I am confused and a bit disheartened.

        • Mexperience says

          James,

          As per the reply to John:

          If you are making an initial application for residency in Mexico and you do NOT have certain and specific family ties to Mexico, then you MUST begin the process at a Mexican Consulate outside of Mexico.

          If you have a Temporary Residency card already, and you want to renew this card for further year(s) or exchange it for Permanent Residency, you MUST undertake the renewal/exchange at an immigration office *inside* Mexico.

          These are the rules as documented in the current legislation.

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