From 2009 to 2012, a large number of Mexicans have migrated to the USA. Currently, the American population contains over three-quarters of Mexico’s one million documented immigrants (up from two-thirds in 2000).

But it’s not only the Mexicans who immigrate to the US, a countless number of Americans migrate to Mexico in pursuit of a warmer climate. It’s been determined that the cost of living in Mexico is 40 – 50% cheaper than in the USA. Likewise, sunny beaches and “eternal spring” mountains attract Americans who are tired of cold winters and rainy weather.

1. Visas in Mexico
Since new laws went into effect in November 2012, attaining legal citizenship in Mexico has become more difficult. However, there are two types of temporary visas (Visas de Residente Temporal) that have been modified through a radical change.

The first is a temporary work visa and it is valid provided one has a local job. Before applying for one, an immigrant must understand the legal working system. Americans who attain one do so providing they perform jobs a native Mexican can’t do so well, for example, teach English.

The second is a non-working visa which requires one to show proof of their ability to support themselves. This means an individual must have an income of at least $2,000 a month and a couple, $2,500 monthly. If approved through an embassy consul, a family is required to earn an additional $500 per dependent. For retirees, the minimal income is less assuming they own assets in savings and real estate. This income figures are roughly 400 times the minimum wage in Mexico, which is between 63.77 and 67.29 pesos (approximately $5.00 in the US). In lieu of proof of income, one can show having at least $126,000 in assets.

2. Applying For a Visa
According to the new requirements, you must apply for a visa in your home country -not in Mexico. Before late 2012, anyone could enter the country on a 180-day tourist visa and was not rushed into applying for residency. Those who enter Mexico without a tourist visa must return to the US prior to applying. In order to obtain paper forms now, one must physically present him/herself at a Mexican embassy or consulate.

Some embassies and consulates will provide you with a list of required documents, while others will email the list to you. It is best to bring all the papers mentioned on the list in case you need them. Plan on staying in the embassy’s town several days as more than one documents will be required to be obtained. Common requirements are a marriage license, birth certificate, pay stubs, and 12 months of bank statements (notarized by the bank). Those who bank electronically should visit their banks for printouts rather than print them out on a home computer.

If you receive a salary from a company, you will need copies of months of pay stubs to determine your income, not your past tax returns. After the application is submitted, it will take several days before it is processed and approved. When the visa is complete, you must pay a fee of $35 per person and you’ll receive the visa which will be attached on a page of your passport. However, this is only a photo ID. You can file for residency after you’ve been to Mexico for a period of over 30 days.

3. Filing For Residency
While you wait for your residency visa you cannot leave Mexico. To file for the residency you’re required to fill out an online form (in Spanish). You will need your passport photos and a receipt of the money paid to the consulate or embassy. You must then bring these documents to a government agency for additional processing for a fee which is approximately $40 to $60. However, the overall visa fee is high, about 3,310 pesos (approximately $240). This amount is to be paid annually if you wish to remain a resident there. Unfortunately, recent applicants are rarely approved for a second year.

Following that, you must report back to the embassy or consulate within seven to 10 days. At this stage, you must give them your fingerprints. The overall process can be a bit difficult because any minor mistake might lead to disapproval. If everything goes well you can monitor the visa process online to find out when you must report back to the immigration office.

4. Receiving Your ID Card
After you’ve received your residency (or CURP) card, you must show it when leaving or re-entering Mexico. Before children can be registered into the school system, they will need a CURP card as well. Those attending private schools might be able to do so on a tourist visa.

Once you’ve acquired legal status, you are eligible for discounts, while you can also open a bank account. As you enter the national health system, you are required to fill out additional paperwork and undergo a physical. After four years, you become a permanent legal resident and you no longer need to reapply and pay annual fees. If you pay your bills on a timely basis, you might not have to comply with the income requirements (a law which is not fully enforced anyway). Finally, when traveling through the airport, you can go through the line reserved for Mexicans instead of through the longer foreigner’s line.

If you have trouble meeting the regular income requirements, you can stay 180 days and seek out additional income during that time. You can leave within the 180 days and return later by applying for another tourist visa, but if you do this too many times, you may arouse suspicion.

For more info, find a message board for the area where you’re planning to live and inquire about new arrivals. You can use this Mexican residency e-book for additional help.

Applying for permanent residency in Mexico is a long and arduous process. Possibly, this inefficient system might have been created to test one’s patience. Still, immigrating into Mexico is more straightforward than entering into the USA. If you have any tips on how to go through this process please let us know in the comment section below.

How to Immigrate to Mexico