Every year, thousands of foreign visitors arrive in Mexico to undertake some kind of volunteer work here. 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.
Foreigners on a prearranged volunteer assignment can arrive in Mexico and simply fill out and use the Visitor’s Permit, formally known as the Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM). This is the same form that tourists and business visitors fill out on arrival at the airport, or complete when they cross the border into Mexico by land and travel beyond the 35km ‘free zone’. You can learn more about the FMM by reading this article.
The FMM is valid for a maximum of 180 days (6 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.
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 role your employer will need to sponsor a change of your immigration status and you’ll need to apply for a Residente Temporal visa with work privileges.
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.