Immigration & Visas, Mexico Essentials

Time Limits on Mexico Visitor and Residency Visas

Calendar and Time

We often get asked questions about how long people can remain in Mexico under the auspice of visitor and residency visas.

This article answers common questions about time limits and exit/entry rules for Mexico visitor and residency visas and explains how long you must reside in Mexico to qualify for citizenship.

Time limits when you are in Mexico using a Visitor Visa (FMM)

What is it? Mexico’s visitor visa allows entry into the country for leisure or business visits not exceeding 180 days.

How long is it valid? The visitor visa is valid for a maximum of 180 days from the date you enter Mexico. It cannot be extended beyond 180 days.

Renewals: The visitor visa cannot be renewed; and you must leave Mexico by the date it expires.  If you over-stay your visitor visa you will face delays and fines when you try to leave the country.

Leaving and re-entering Mexico: You must leave by the expiry date, but there is no time limit on how long you must remain outside of Mexico before you can return using a new visitor visa.  Every time you re-enter Mexico, the 180-day allowance is ‘reset.’  Some foreigners have been using this feature to remain in Mexico over longer periods; however, with today’s computerized systems, immigration officials at ports of entry have ready-access to your movements through Mexico and ‘perpetual visitors’ may now have their intentions questioned at the port of entry.  If you intend to stay in Mexico longer term we recommend you apply for a Mexican residency permit.

See Your Mexico Visitors Permit, FMM for further details.

Time limits when you are in Mexico using a Residente Temporal visa

What is it? Mexico’s Residente Temporal visa enables foreigners to remain in Mexico beyond the 180-day time limit imposed with the visitor visa and also gives them access to certain residency privileges; for example, opening a bank account here which you cannot do as a visitor.

How long it is valid? When you are granted a Residente Temporal visa, it’s valid from 1 year to 4 years.  Your first temporary residency card is always issued for only one year and must be renewed within the 30-day window before it expires. At the end of the first year, you can renew your temporary residency for a further 1, 2 or 3 years. When you renew for 3 years you won’t have to return to the immigration office to renew it until it fully expires at the end of year 4; however, you must inform the immigration office of certain changes in your personal circumstances (see below).

Leaving and re-entering Mexico: While your Residente Temporal card is valid, you may leave and re-enter Mexico as often as you wish.  You must attend the immigration kiosk at the port of departure to have a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) card stamped and re-present that same stamped card when you return—if you have residency status do not re-enter Mexico as a visitor or your immigration status will become ‘irregular’ and your residency status will be put at risk.  See Procedures for entering and leaving Mexico for further details.

Renewals: Temporary residency card renewals must be undertaken in Mexico, and you cannot leave the country while the renewal process is in train.  In exceptional circumstances, you can apply for a temporary exit and re-entry permit while your residency card renewal is being processed; the covering letter submitted with your request must state the exceptional nature of your circumstances.  See Renewing your Mexico residency permit for further details.

Change in Circumstances: When you are living in Mexico under the auspice of Residente Temporal you must report certain changes in your personal circumstances to the immigration office — e.g. change of your residential address, change of marital status, or change of employment status or employer — and these changes must be reported in Mexico.

Time outside of Mexico: When you are living in Mexico under the auspice of Residente Temporal, there is no time limit to how long you can remain outside of the country, but renewals and reporting changes in certain personal circumstances (see above) must be undertaken in Mexico.

What happens afterwards? After 4 consecutive years under the auspice of a Residente Temporal visa in Mexico, you cannot renew or extend your stay as a temporary resident: you must apply to exchange your temporary residency status for permanent residency status or leave the country.

Time limits when you are in Mexico using a Residente Permanente visa

What is it? Permanent residency gives a foreigner leave to remain in Mexico indefinitely, and gives certain residency privileges; for example, opening a bank account here which you cannot do as a visitor.

How long it is valid? When you are granted a Residente Permanente visa — whether you apply straight away and are granted permanent residency, or eventually obtain permanent residency after four consecutive years of living under the auspice of a temporary residence permit in Mexico — you are issued with a permanent residency card that carries no expiry date.  Permanent residency never expires (but can be surrendered, or withdrawn by the Secretaría de Gobernación, at any time).

Leaving and re-entering Mexico: When you have permanent residency status in Mexico, you may leave and re-enter the country as often as you wish.  You must attend the immigration kiosk at the port of departure to have a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) card stamped and re-present that same stamped card when you return—if you have residency status do not re-enter Mexico as a visitor or your immigration status will become ‘irregular’ and your residency status will be put at risk.  See Procedures for entering and leaving Mexico for further details.

Change in Circumstances: When you are living in Mexico under the auspice of Residente Permanente you must report certain changes in your personal circumstances to the immigration office — e.g. change of your residential address, change of marital status, or change of employment status or employer — and these changes must be reported in Mexico.

Time outside of Mexico: Under current rules, when you have permanent residency status in Mexico, your Residente Permanente card does not require renewal and there is no time limit to how long you can remain outside of the country, but reporting changes in certain personal circumstances (see above) must be undertaken in Mexico.

Time Qualification for Mexican citizenship

If you intend to apply for Mexican citizenship as part of your lifestyle planning, the applicant must prove five consecutive years with either temporary residency or permanent residency, and the last two years prior to the application, the applicant must have remained in Mexico at least nine months out of the twelve for each of those two years.  If you are married to a Mexican national, the qualification period may reduce to two years.  See Becoming a Naturalized Mexican for further details.

Further information

Common questions and answers related to Mexican visas can be found on our regularly-updated Mexico Immigration & Visas FAQs page.

If you need personal assistance to help you choose the best route for residency in Mexico, and/or practical help like preparing your application (e.g. completing the application forms, writing the covering letter, etc.) consider using our Relocation Consulting service.

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