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.
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