Immigration & Visas, Mexico Essentials

Volunteering in Mexico

This article explains what you need to know about visas if you plan to undertake some volunteer work in Mexico

Volunteer helping to release a sea turtle back into the wild

Every year, thousands of foreign visitors arrive in Mexico to undertake some kind of volunteer work here.  Volunteer projects include helping sea turtle sanctuaries to release turtles back into the wild, rural development projects, teaching, and specialized training.

We receive various inquiries from people asking what type of visa they need to volunteer in Mexico, so we’ve published this article to address the key points for you to consider.

No special permit needed for non-remunerated volunteer work

Foreigners on a prearranged volunteer assignment can arrive in Mexico and simply fill out and use the Visitor’s Permit known as the Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM). You can learn more about the FMM by reading this article.

The FMM is valid for a maximum of 180 days (a little less than six calendar months).  Most volunteer assignments don’t tend to last for longer than this, but if your assignment does then you’ll need to leave Mexico and re-enter again, or apply for a Residente Temporal visa that allows you to remain in Mexico for at least one year.  You can learn more about applying for residency visas on our Mexico immigration guide.

If the work is paid, or changes to become paid, you need to apply for a work visa

It’s important to remember that the FMM permit does not allow you to engage in any lucrative or paid activities while you’re in Mexico, so if your volunteer work changes into a lucrative (paid) role the organization you are employed by will need to sponsor a change of your immigration status and apply for a Residente Temporal visa with work privileges on your behalf.

If you’re in Mexico already and decide to volunteer

If you are currently visiting in Mexico using a FMM Visitor’s Permit and subsequently take up some volunteering work, there is no need to take any action: provided the work is not lucrative, there’s no need to change your immigration status.

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