Immigration & Visas, Money

Mexico Residency Qualification Criteria: Minimum Wage vs UMA

The income or savings you need to qualify for residency in Mexico will depend on whether the authority applies Minimum Wage or UMA to the calculation

Money Jar with Mexican Pesos

Minimum Wage vs UMA Update – September 2020

Immigration offices in Mexico have begun to transition to the new ‘UMA’ multiples that replace the Minimum Salary multiples.

Read this article to learn more about UMA and the transition period, and how it affects qualification for those seeking residency in Mexico on the basis of economic solvency.

Historically, Mexico has based public fees and other charges (like fines) on multiples of the country’s National Minimum Salary, expressed as an amount in pesos per day.  The minimum salary rises every year and, until recently, would rise only modestly—usually in step with the official rate of inflation.

In 2016, the Peña Nieto administration moved to decouple the 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 would enable minimum salaries to be increased significantly without the corresponding and potentially punitive rises in public charges and fees.  Once this directive was in place Mexico’s minimum daily wage began to increase significantly:

  • in 2016 the minimum wage as $73.04 pesos a day;
  • in 2017, the minimum wage rose about 9% to $80.04 pesos a day;
  • in 2018 it rose just over 10% to $88.36 pesos a day;
  • in 2019 it rose a further 16% to $102.68 pesos a day
  • a rise of 20% took effect from January 1, 2020, making the current rate $123.22 pesos a day

Over the last 4 years, Mexico’s minimum daily wage has risen from ~$73 pesos a day, to ~$123 pesos a day—an increase of 68% over that time.

Under the Immigration Law of 2012, financial criteria for qualification of residency permits in Mexico is tied multiples of the minimum salary.  These were supposed to be superseded by this directive which introduced the UMA, but in practice, the immigration law itself has not been amended to cite UMA, and our associates tell us that Mexican Consulates abroad and immigration offices in Mexico continue to use the minimum salary as a reference for their calculations and not the transitional amounts quoted in this official UMA table.

The implications for foreign residents (particularly retirees) applying for residency in Mexico can be significant.  Here’s an example of why:

Minimum Wage Multiple: If you apply for Temporary Residency in Mexico and the authority uses the 2020 Minimum Wage as the multiplier in the calculation ($123.22 pesos), you will need to demonstrate a monthly income of $36,966 Mexican pesos (about USD $1,945*) over the last six months, or a savings balance of $616,100 Mexican pesos (about USD $32,426*) over the last 12 months.

UMA Multiple: If you apply for Temporary Residency in Mexico and the authority uses the 2020 UMA as the multiplier in the calculation ($86.88 pesos), you will need to demonstrate a monthly income of $26,064 Mexican pesos (about USD $1,371*) over the last six months, or a savings balance of $434,400 Mexican pesos (about USD$22,863*) over the last 12 months.

The average Social Security check for a retired worker in the US is about USD $1,478 per month (November 2019).

If Mexican Consulates continue to use the Minimum Salary as the basis for their qualification criteria, then it will become harder for retirees using their Social Security checks to qualify for residency in Mexico—especially as further above-inflation rises to the minimum wage are expected in the coming years.  Absent any change to the policy, fewer Americans will quality financially for a retirement permit in Mexico, as the average Social Security payments are now around US$1,470 — comfortably above the amount required when measured under UMA, but nearly a quarter less than the ~US$1,945* requirement based on a multiple of the 2020 Minimum Salary.

Learn more about Financial Criteria for Residency in Mexico.

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.

* Re US dollar amounts quoted: The USD amounts calculated above assume 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 this equivalent.  Contact your nearest Mexican Consulate for more details.

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  1. Milena says

    Are there income requirements if applying at the consulate for permanent residence as the parent of a Mexican citizen (child born outside of Mexico but has Mexican citizenship)?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Milenia,
      Some Family Unit applicant types do have to show economic solvency, others don’t; and for those that do, the qualification criteria (level of income or savings) are far lower than non-Family Unit.

      You can find answers in the Mexico Immigration Guide that can be downloaded free (see link in the article above).

      If you would like to talk to someone about this and get practical assistance with the application, consider using our associate’s service, details here:

  2. Terry says

    Actually I used my rrsp in Canada as my savings and had no problem with doing that my monthly balances were more then adequate I did not have to cash them in

  3. Debbie says

    Yes, I believe this is a bad move on the part of Mexican Consulates not to use the UMA method, because it will deter many social security recipients from moving to Mexico (at least legally). I am living here now, but plan to do visa runs as long as I can, since I found a studio in Puerto Vallarta for less than $400 per month! I get the average amount of almost $1,500 and can’t believe I don’t make enough to qualify. It’s certainly enough to live in Mexico and makes no sense to me why Mexican Consulates are not using the UMA method. I would like to comment that, after doing a lot of research, and checking out several consulates, there are some in Arizona and Nevada that are more lenient and will qualify people on lower incomes. I even found another type of visa on the Phoenix, Arizona website, which was basically a long term visitor visa, which the option of 6 months or 10 years! It had two income options also: one for investment income of around $1,900 per month and one for pension or employment income of around $635 per month. I am trying to verify this information now.

    • Pamela Peterson says

      I would be interested in what you find out. I have a friend wanting to get residency but can’t qualify as her SS income is just below 1400…she will rent a part of my house for 300 a month so this is more than enough to live on. Hate to see her not get her residency. Thanks for posting.

    • Phil Thum says

      did you find out any other info on the 6 month to 10 Visa?
      costs and requirements ? I have a lower Social Security income
      than you , but have a higher saving account numbers mentioned
      in the option ? when they say saving option over certain 12 months
      does that mean the amount has to records of 12 months sitting in
      a bank?
      thanks Phil

      • Debbie says

        I believe you can use savings as a qualifier. Go to the link I showed below.

  4. Lynnet says

    Wow. Seems to be more financially complicated…so if my husband retirement check is over 1500$ and I am not on retirement by my age, how do we pass a qualification? Since we have a house over $500.000 (paid off) in the USA and savings. We have a plan to sale the house and retire to Mexico(CBS).

  5. Paul says

    Remember it is after tax income. You may be able to have them not take tax off at source and pay it separate thereby showing a higher income. If you have 401K or a RRIF in Canada, you may be able to withdraw monthly amount from that to put you over the top for 6 consecutive months, you can always reinvest it after. I went for temporal, now cannot get back to do the first year renewal because of covid. I may try to use the tricks above to make the minimums fro permanente and start over. Also if you have a spouse you cannot apply as a couple with a lower total amount. One of you has to already have an existing card.

    • Pamela peterson says

      My husband has permanent residency. I have no residency at the present just a tourist visa as I lost my temporary residency when I was in Europe on an emergency visit and failed to renew in time. I can’t meet the income requirements on my own. What can I do?

  6. Eris says

    Nevermind, I saw the asterisk. You can delete that last question and this one!
    Or maybe delete this one and leave it up, someone else might have it.

    Actually I *KNOW* someone else did because they sent me this page when they were trying to find out about the minimums and they thought it was $1945.
    I tried to explain to them they had to convert, then came back and read this thoroughly and saw it.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Eris, no problem. There are three points of note, which I will leave here for clarity:

      1. Consulates abroad and immigration offices in Mexico continue to use multiples of Mexico’s official Minimum Salary in Mexican pesos, not the UMA, for now.

      2. The US dollar equivalent (or indeed any foreign currency equivalent, depending where you apply from) will depend in good part on the foreign currency exchange rate at the time; AND

      3. Each consulate applies a slightly different exchange rate to the Minimum Salary multiple calculation; these are generally based on recent foreign currency market rates, but will not be exactly the amounts quoted in the article, nor match the exact market prices. You need to ask them for their figures, especially if your income/savings is at or near the cusp of qualification.

      Hope that helps!

      • Michaek says

        This practice is total wreck for Mexican immigration.
        European countries opened the door for retirees for Permanent Residency at much less than 3k a month. If returement income more than 3k, why live in Mexico?

        • Mexperience says

          Hi Michael,

          Applicants can apply for temporary residency that carries considerably lower financial qualification thresholds, and after 4 years that temporary permit can be automatically swapped for permanent residency.

          Multiples may reduce if the UMA is applied to immigration rules in due course, although for the time being, Minimum Salaries are used as the multiplier for qualification.

          A few other practical points to mention here. Everyday living costs are materially lower in Mexico than they are in Europe. It’s also much closer to the US/CAN where many foreign retirees who make a home in Mexico have loved ones who want to come and visit, or they want to go and visit family back home. And the climate is much better here, too 🙂

  7. Eris says

    When you give firm numbers such as $1,945 USD…you mean that is what it was on Jan 10 or that is what it will be for all of 2020?

    I am assuming they calculate it when they look at your papers (on any given day), or are you suggesting that they fix the rates on Jan 1 and never check the conversions again?

    If the latter it would probably be best to append “as of this writing” to those paragraphs above.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Eris,
      Sorry about the confusion: all the US dollar amounts in the article have an asterisk (*) beside them, and there’s a *footnote to explain that these are based on 19 pesos to 1 dollar and that consulates each use different exchange rates. We made the footnote clearer, hope that helps!

  8. Alan G says

    In 2021, I will be converting from Temporary to Permanent resident. I initially qualified as Temporary, based on my Savings account balance (this in 2017). That balance was (and still is) comfortably above the minimum for Permanent. When I apply to become Permanent, will I need to provide current bank statements? Or will what they already have on file, be sufficient?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Alan,
      When converting your temporary residency to permanent, you do not normally have to re-present your financial statements. However, the immigration office can, at its discretion, ask for further information that may include financial evidence, so we recommend people are prepared, just in case. There is a chapter about converting your residency permit from temporary to permanent in the Mexico Immigration Guide (see link in article).

      If you need assistance with the procedure, consider using the Immigration Assistance Service provided by our associates; details here:

  9. mary says

    this is extremely disappointing– I am in shock– did not know of any income requirement and planning on a move next year– my husband and I will probably not qualify with our 2 ss checks
    how accurate is this information?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Mary, the information is up-to-date and accurate as of the date of this article. If you have certain family roots in Mexico then you might be able to apply via Family Unit rules which have lower or zero income requirements. Please download the Mexico Immigration Guide (link in the article) for details about applying for residency in Mexico under the Family Unit rules.

    • Laurie MunningsQ says

      Thanks for the update. My question is it better to apply for a temporary visa card now or wait until I get back to Vancouver as we are thinking of going to Mexico for the month of May and June etc. 5 months.How much are the tolls from the United states border to lake Chapala? Should we exchange our Canadian dollars for Mexicoing Paso’s in Canada Before we leave for Mexico? Thanks again. Laurie

      • Mexperience says

        Hi Laurie, unless you have certain family connections in Mexico, you must apply for your residency visa from outside of Mexico.

    • Rob F says

      Me thinks your use of the word “planning” is used very loosely. Planning would mean that you did some research. There has ALWAYS been income requirements.

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