Visas for Mexico

visa application
Updated 2022-05-22 14:08

Foreign nationals planning to move to Mexico can choose from a range of visas. If you want to stay in the country longer than 180 days, you have to file for one of the visa options. In general, it is not too hard to acquire residency in Mexico, but the different visas and their requirements can feel like a lot at first sight. In this article, explains the requirements relating to obtaining a visa for Mexico to make your struggle a little less complicated. 

How to establish the correct visa type for you?

First of all, it is essential to know how long you are planning on staying in Mexico and if you want to be able to work there as well or if you don't.

We have established a few scenarios for you to make it less complicated and to guide you toward the right visa type!

Tourist permit

If you are just going on vacation or doing some business, you do not have to apply for any type of visa and only have to fill out the migration form called FMM. You can either download it beforehand from this website or wait until you get on the plane; as usual, the flight attendants will pass it out during the flight.

You are not required to show anything more than a valid passport, proof of stay, and a return ticket.

Temporary residency

Do you want to spend a bit more time than only six months in Mexico and maybe work there, but still not commit 100%? The temporary residence card might be just for you. You can apply for it on the grounds of several reasons, and it is valid for up to 4 years.

Permanent residency

If you are retired or have incomings or investments from abroad and do not seek employment, this probably will be a good fit for your needs. Mega plus- it does not expire!

This was just a quick overview for you to figure out what topic to address more in-depth. In the following few passages, you can get more insight into the different options for your Mexican visa.

The tourist visitor permit in Mexico - FMM

Travelers from most countries do not need a tourist visa for Mexico, including citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the European Union. You will need a passport valid for at least six months and with one blank visa page is necessary, proof of onward and return flights, all documents for the next destination, documents with evidence of travel purpose, the guarantee of sufficient funds with respect to your intended length of stay, as well as the FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple, or Multiple Migration Form), a two-part form that you will receive on the airplane or at the border. All this applies if you do not plan on staying more than180 days.

The immigration officer will stamp the second part of the form and write the amount of time you may stay in the country, typically 180 days.

At this point, it should be noted that due to recent events (thank you, COVID) and the drastic influx of people from all over the world wanting to sit out this pandemic at the beach sipping margaritas, the 180 days rule has changed quite a bit. What usually was a relatively quick process of 5 minutes tops being asked about occupation, sufficient funds, and travel plans has now turned into a full-on interrogation.

It is highly unlikely that the immigration officer will give you more than 90 days without being questioned. And Mexico being Mexico, it does not matter if you bring up that by law, they actually have to allow you 180 days - it is not wise starting a discussion with those officers. We are speaking from experience. If you intend to stay the full 180 days, better come prepared with a contract and a very good reason you want to spend this much time in the country without working here. What you can do is try not to enter through one of the main airports like Mexico City or Cancun, and your chances will be higher in other locations like Guadalajara.


Avoid talking to them in Spanish, and it is better to show them you are definitely just another tourist. And keep your sentence as short as possible so they won't go into too much detail!


It is crucial saving this form because you will need it when you leave Mexico. Without it, you will be issued a fine of 575 pesos, or USD 29.

The different visa types in Mexico

  • Temporary residence: Lasts up to four years, but you have to renew it every year
  • Permanent residence: Lasts a lifetime. You do not have to renew it

The temporary resident visa in Mexico (Visa de Residente Temporal)

If you plan on staying in Mexico for more than 180 days, you should apply for a temporary resident visa. You have to apply for it at a Mexican consulate in your home country. There are several categories for this visa, such as retirees, investors, and different types of professionals.

Although information about this visa is available in Spanish on the National Migration Institute's webpage, it may not be current or complete. Therefore, the first step in this process is to visit a Mexican consulate in your home country to pick up the application form and a list of requirements. Besides your passport, the application form, photos, and the fee, you will need original financial records to prove that you can support yourself while in Mexico, such as bank statements or pay stubs.

The requirements are:

  1. Have proof of monthly income from the previous 6 months of approximately 2400 to 2700 USD or savings from the past 12 months of around 45,000 USD.
  2. Have a job offer
  3. Have an active inscription or proof of admission to a university in Mexico
  4. Be part of scientific research in waters
  5. Being invited from an organization or institution
  6. Having family bonds
  7. Owning property in Mexico (around 200,000 USD worth)
  8. Having significant investments

The temporary resident visa allows you to stay in Mexico for up to 4 years, but you have to renew it every year. After these four years, you have to leave the country, or you can apply for permanent residency. Once you are a permanent resident, you will have all the rights of a Mexican citizen, except the right to vote or serve in the military.

You cannot apply for this visa while in Mexico, but you have to leave and make an appointment at any Mexican consulate. This can be either your home country or literally any other country that offers the required services.

The permanent resident visa in Mexico (Visa de Residente Permanente)

The Permanent Resident Visa is designed for people wanting permanent residency in Mexico and/or eventually applying for Mexican citizenship. One does not have to be a Temporary Resident before applying to be a permanent resident. You have to meet all of the conditions to qualify for permanent resident status.

These requirements are:

  1. To have close family in Mexico or,
  2. To provide economic solvency (around 180.000 USD) or monthly income (like retirement money, rents) of 4300 to 4500 USD
  3. Exchange your temporary residence visa for a permanent one after 4 years
  4. Exchange your temporary residence visa for a permanent one after 2 years if it was obtained through marriage to a Mexican citizen or permanent resident
  5. Based on humanitarian reasons or political asylum

You can only apply for the permanent residence visa within Mexican territory if you are submitting it because of an exchange of your 4-years temporary residence permit. If it is based on one of the other reasons mentioned above, you have to file outside of the country at a Mexican consulate. There you will get a pre-visa in your passport, and once you arrive again in Mexico, you have 30 days to go to the nearest immigration office to exchange that for a permanent residence card.

This visa will never expire, but you are required to update Mexican immigration about significant changes like marriage, change of domicile, etc.

What income or savings qualify?

You can show proof of your income or savings from several streams and accounts, as well as from different categories of earnings or assets. You do not have to have all of your income or savings coming from one stream, nor all of your money or assets in one account. Unfortunately, cryptocurrency is still not accepted, so you would have to transfer the value to your bank account first to make it count.

In general, you will have to get in touch with the specific Mexican consulate first and ask them directly what their requirements are. They tend to vary from one to the other, and you would want to avoid getting rejected simply because you did not bring all the necessary documents and proof.

Permission to work in Mexico

Foreigners who wish to work in Mexico must first receive a job offer before they can apply for a temporary resident visa with permission to work, which is a different category of permit from the temporary resident visa described above. The company must provide a letter explaining their intention to hire you, along with a tax form or similar document. As with the regular temporary resident visa, you must apply for this visa outside of Mexico at a Mexican consulate in your home country, and it is a good idea to visit them first to receive current information and requirements.

Note that those who are in the country as tourists are not allowed to work or be paid for any activity. However, if you work online for a non-Mexican company and are not paid in Mexican pesos, you do not need a work visa.

How much time do you have to calculate for your visa process?

Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with an exact timeframe as those application waiting times tend to vary depending on the moment you are applying for it.

Also, it is different due to your visa type. If it is a more complex situation, of course, it will take longer to process than a simple temporary residence because of a job offer.

Additionally, every consulate has a different workload and therefore waiting times. Usually, once you have gathered all the necessary documents and you are ready to make an appointment at an embassy, you can expect, depending on their vacancies at this point, to get your interview date set within 1 to 3 months. Then you can book your flight and hotel in case you are currently not in the country where the consulate is located and start preparing.

How long it takes the agents at the Mexican consulate also depends on the amount of work they currently have. Still, after finishing your interview with them, most likely, you can get your passport with the pre-approval sticker the same or the following day, a maximum of 10 days later.

Then you have 180 days to get back to Mexico to finish your immigration process. Once you have touched ground on Mexican territory, you have 30 days to make an appointment at the local immigration office to exchange your pre-approval for a resident card. They will take your fingerprints and issue the card within a week usually. However, it can take up to three months if they are super overworked. But as you should know by now, like everything else in Mexico, it depends on the moment you are applying for it.


Check in regularly with the consulate to see if someone did not attend their visa appointment because that way, you might be able to get your process finished up faster if your interview date was set with a long waiting time.

Useful links:

List of countries whose citizens require or do not require a tourist visa

FMM Multiple Migration Form

National Migration Institute

Requirements for the various visas from the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco

Requirements for the temporary resident visa

Application for the temporary resident visa with permission to work

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.