Immigration & Visas, Living, Working

Principal Routes to Obtaining Legal Residency in Mexico

This article describes principal routes foreigners take to apply for legal residency in Mexico, with references to additional information and helpful resources

Mexico Residency Cards

Our Mexico Immigration Guide provides detailed information about visas and residency permits.  This article summarizes the principal routes that most people use to apply for, and acquire, legal residency here with links to further information and helpful resources.

Temporary or Permanent residency

Regardless of which route you take to apply for residency in Mexico, if your application for residency is accepted, you’ll be granted either temporary or permanent residency here.

Some routes and situations enable the applicant to apply for permanent residency right away; other routes and situations may require you to apply for temporary residency first, and after four consecutive years of holding temporary residency, you may opt to exchange that for permanent residency.

To learn about the differences, read our article about temporary and permanent residency in Mexico.

Principal routes to obtaining legal residency

Here are the principal routes that most foreigners consider when they decide to apply for legal residency in Mexico.

Economic solvency

Most applications for legal residency are sought through ‘economic solvency’—proving that you have sufficient income or savings to sustain yourself in Mexico.  Our article about financial criteria for residency describes the amount of income or savings you are required to prove to qualify for residency this way.

If you don’t qualify for permanent residency right away under the ‘economic solvency’ route (e.g., some consulates require applicants to be ‘retired’ even if they have they qualify economically), after four consecutive years of holding a temporary residency card, you can apply to automatically exchange your temporary residency for permanent residency in Mexico.

Owning a house in Mexico

If you own a house in Mexico —free of any mortgage and liens— then you can apply for temporary residency in Mexico if the assessed value of the house is equal to or greater than the value required under the qualification rules.  The house must be situated in Mexico (not abroad) and it must be registered in the name of the applicant(s) seeking legal residency in Mexico.  You can only apply for temporary residency when you use the value of your Mexican home as the basis for qualification. After four consecutive years of temporary residency you may apply to automatically exchange that for permanent residency.

Family connections

If you have certain types of family connections in Mexico, you can apply for residency on the basis of ‘Family Unit.’  Whether you can apply for temporary or permanent residency right away will depend on the type of family connection you have.  These types of applications carry a lower ‘economic solvency’ threshold (or none, depending on the type) and applicants applying for residency through Family Unit are among the few applicants who can exchange a Visitor Permit for a residency card without having to leave Mexico. Our related article describes who qualifies for residency in Mexico under the Family Unit rules.

Making a capital investment in Mexico

If you have capital to invest in Mexico, there is a route to applying for temporary residency based on making that investment.  There’s a minimum capital investment required, the capital must be invested in one of a prescribed set of ways, and these applications tend to be more involved/complex than applications on the basis of economic solvency or family unit.  You can find out what the current capital investment is on our article about financial criteria for residency.

Local job offer (employer as sponsor)

If you have a formal job offer in Mexico, the Mexican company that has agreed to hire you can make a special application to the INM for your temporary residency permit.  When this is approved, you are invited to attend a Mexican consulate abroad, who will place a visa sticker in your passport, and when you arrive (or return) to Mexico that sticker is exchanged for a residency card.  Note that your right to residency will be tied to that employment contract.

Humanitarian grounds and political asylum

It’s possible to apply for residency in Mexico on humanitarian grounds or under the auspice of political asylum.  These are very specialized applications and you should contact your nearest immigration office in Mexico for guidance and advice.

Special programs and procedures

Mexico’s immigration institute, the INM, occasionally announces special programs which can enable visitors or other foreign persons in specifically-defined circumstances to apply for residency in Mexico under the auspice of a special procedure.

There is currently a special procedure being offered to people holding expired visitor permits.  Special programs may be announced and withdrawn at any time without prior notice and all applications are dealt with on a per-case basis; the INM retains ultimate discretion to accept or deny any application.

Applying for Mexican citizenship (naturalization)

If you intend to apply for Mexican citizenship, then you will need to obtain legal residency first and then apply for citizenship after the qualifying period, which is two years of legal residency if you’re married to a Mexican national, and five years of legal residency if you’re not married to Mexican national.  You can learn more about this in our Mexico Immigration Guide and on our article about obtaining Mexican citizenship.

Further information and resources

Mexperience publishes a comprehensive guide to Mexico Immigration, updated annually, coupled with a series of regularly updated articles to help you learn more about visas and legal residency in Mexico.

Mexico Immigration Assistance

If you need assistance with your Mexico residency application, renewals, or regularization procedures, our Mexico Immigration Assistance Service provides consulting, advice, and practical help that helps you through the entire residency application or renewal process, including regularization procedures.

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