Immigration & Visas, Mexico Essentials

Time Scales for Obtaining Mexico Residency Visas and Cards

When you're applying for residency in Mexico, you will need to take typical time scales into account for processing your visa and residency card

Calendar and time planning

When you’re applying for residency in Mexico, you will need to allow for application and processing times of your visa and/or residency card.

This article describes the typical time scales you ought to take into account when you intend to apply for a Mexico residency permit starting at a Mexican consulate abroad, as well as for residency-related procedures from within Mexico.

Typical time scales for Mexico residency permits

Most applicants need to begin their applications for residency from outside of Mexico, at a Mexican consulate abroad.

Applying this way is a two-stage process:

  • you apply for your residency visa(s) at a Mexican consulate, and if your application is accepted they will place a visa sticker in your passport; then
  • you must arrive and begin the application to exchange the visa for a residency card at an immigration office in Mexico before the visa’s expiry date—that is 180 days after its issue date.
  • If you don’t meet this time scale, your visa will become void, and you will need to restart your application.
  • Note that if you’re renewing an existing residency card, you undertake this process in Mexico
  • If you are applying on the basis of Family Unit you can begin the process in Mexico, or at a Mexican consulate.

Typical time scales at the Mexican consulate

Residency applications from outside of Mexico must begin with an appointment at a Mexican consulate.  It can take up to several weeks (and in some places, months) to secure an appointment for residency applications at a Mexican consulate.

Once you attend your interview and file your paperwork, the consulate usually issues the visa sticker within 10 working days after your appointment date, if your application is successful.

Consulate appointment lead times

It’s currently taking between two weeks and up to 3 months to secure a residency appointment/interview at a Mexican consulate abroad, depending on which consulate you apply at.

Sometimes consulates release additional dates without notice (perhaps due to cancellations), which can reduce the time scale, although you should plan ahead when booking your consulate appointment for a residency interview.

Appointment availability at Mexican consulates

The procedures for booking appointments at Mexican consulates abroad varies by location: some consulates use an online booking system, others require an email to be sent, and others have walk-in dates.  Our associate can assist you with appointment scheduling in accordance with the policy and process in place at the consulate you apply at.

Appointment availability at consulates abroad varies by location, and the consulates’ appointment policy is outside of our control. Our associate will work with you to get an appointment at the location where you want to apply, but they cannot fast-track or get preferential treatment for any applicants.

Mexico immigration office appointments

If you are requesting a visa-to-residency card exchange, renewing an existing residency card, or applying for residency in Mexico on the basis of Family Unit, you will need to ask for an appointment at your nearest immigration office.

Electronic appointments are offline

Mexican immigration offices operate an electronic appointment system for advance bookings, but this system is currently offline—and we don’t know when or if the online booking system will return.

This means that applicants need to go to the local immigration office in person to request an appointment date or token to process the visa-to-card exchange.

Visa-to-Card Exchange: It typically takes 2-4 weeks to complete the visa-to-card exchange process in Mexico.  However, due to a recent change to the design of the residency cards, printers at immigration offices are being updated and it can take longer than this, depending on the location.  We understand that it’s currently taking 4-8 weeks in some places for cards to be issued.  Be prepared to be flexible with your time scales while these changes are rolled-out at INM offices across Mexico.

Time scales for other procedures, e.g. residency card renewals, vary by office: 2-6 weeks appears to be typical at the moment.

Once you have been given your appointment date or token at the immigration office your visa or other permit will remain valid while your procedure is in train.

Walk-in appointments in some places

Immigration offices in some Mexican cities offer walk-in attendance—whereby you show-up on the day to request a service token.

The offices offer a limited number of ‘walk-in tokens’ each day and these are dispensed on a first-come, first-serve basis. We understand that visa to residency card exchanges are given priority and it typically takes 2-4 weeks to complete the visa-to-card exchange process, so you ought to plan to be in Mexico for this period of time to complete your residency permit procedures.

Time scales for card issuance

Residency cards might be issued on the same day as your appointment or attendance date, although it can sometimes take longer, and you may have to return to the immigration office between 2-3 weeks after your initial appointment/attendance date to receive your card.

Card design update: Due to a new design of the residency cards being rolled-out, it is taking longer at some offices to have cards issued.  The usual 2-4 week window may extend to 4-8 weeks and applicants ought to be prepared to be flexible with their time scales.

Leaving Mexico during the process

If you need to leave Mexico while you are waiting for your residency card(s) to be (re)issued, you can apply for an exit/re-entry permit after you have submitted your paperwork for the procedure.

Note that you cannot apply for this exit/re-entry permit when you are in Mexico awaiting your visa-to-residency-card exchange appointment date.

Mexico Immigration Assistance

When 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.

Please note: This is a tele-support service and our associate cannot go the local immigration office on your behalf to request appointment dates for you.

Learn more about Mexico visas and residency

Mexperience publishes extensive information about visas and immigration to Mexico, including: