Immigration & Visas, Money

Mexico’s Immigration Institute 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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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) — which 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 and not 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 was increased with inflation-busting rises year-on-year between 2017 and 2020, 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.

We are getting reports that INM offices in Mexico are now beginning 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.

Example of how economic solvency criteria reduce under UMA

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 (UMA instead of Minimum Wage), thus:

Minimum Wage Multiple: If you apply for Temporary Residency in Mexico and the authority uses the 2020 Minimum Daily Wage ($123.22 pesos a day) for the multiplier in the calculation, you will need to demonstrate that your monthly income over the last six months is at least equivalent to 300 days of Minimum Wage; that’s $36,966 Mexican pesos (about USD $1,945*).  If you apply using your savings, you’ll need to demonstrate a savings balance over the last 12 months at least equivalent to 5000 days of Minimum Wage; that’s $616,100 Mexican pesos (about USD $32,420*).

UMA Multiple: If you apply for Temporary Residency in Mexico and the authority uses the 2020 UMA ($86.88 pesos) for the multiplier in the calculation, you will need to demonstrate that your monthly income over the last six months is at least equivalent to 300 days of UMA; that’s $26,064 Mexican pesos (about USD $1370*).  If you apply using your savings, you’ll need to demonstrate a savings balance over the last 12 months at least equivalent to 5000 days of UMA; that’s $434,400 Mexican pesos (about USD $22,860*).

The average Social Security check for a retired worker in the US is about USD $1,500 per month (August 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 one-third less savings in the bank: ~US$23,000 instead of ~US$33,000.

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 or accumulated savings as a basis for proving your economic solvency.

* 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, their qualification criteria (including financial criteria), as well as the application fees and procedures you need to follow, 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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  1. 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)?

  2. 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:

  3. 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).

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