The first immigration laws for Mexico were published in 1937, although reformed many times, the laws were not changed until May, 2011. The Rules for the Law of May 2011 were published in September, 2012.

The reasoning behind new changes is because of the many International treaties that Mexico has entered into over the years and did not take into consideration the old immigration laws when doing so.

Previous immigration laws divided foreigners into three categories:

Non-immigrants (FM 3): These foreigners came to Mexico, but intend to return to their own country.
Immigrants (FM 2): These foreigners came to Mexico with the intention of becoming immigrants.
Immigrated: These foreigners have completed five years of FM 2 and received an immigrant card

Under both the FM 3 and the FM 2 there were many subclasses. In total there were over 30 types of visas and rules for each type. This caused a lot of confusion and conflict with the visas.

New immigration laws recognize four categories for foreigners to be legally in Mexico:

Visitor: These visas are issued to people coming to Mexico for short-term stays. The visitor visa normally expires in 180 days.

Temporary Resident: This visa is for foreigners who want to remain in Mexico for a term of up to four years. If the foreigner desires to stay more than four years they need to change to a Permanent Resident visa.

Temporary Resident Student: This visa is for foreigners in Mexico for the purpose of education and the visa is good until the completion of that education.

Permanent Resident: This visa is issued for foreigners who wish to remain in Mexico for an indefinite term. This visa is very much like the old “immigrant” status.


Anyone coming into Mexico must have a visa. If you desire to stay longer than the allowed term for a visitor’s visa (180 days) the foreigner must acquire a residence visa.

All visas are granted by the Mexican Consulates outside of Mexico. One of the few exceptions to this rule is if you are from a country that Mexico has waived the requirement of a pre-approved visa. The U.S. and Canada are countries that do not require a pre-approved visa from a Mexican Consulate. Foreigners from the U.S. and Canada may obtain the visitor’s visa either with their plane boarding pass or at the border. Visitor visas can no longer be converted to Temporary Resident or Permanent Resident visas within Mexico.

Temporary Resident visa holders may change to a Permanent Resident while in Mexico. If the foreigner had an “immigrant” card under the old law, the local immigration offices in Mexico should change it to a Permanent Resident card without having to leave Mexico.

Financial Requirements for a Temporary Resident visa:

Provide twelve (12) months of original bank or investment account statements as proof of savings/investments, to show a minimum average monthly balance equivalent to twenty-thousand (20,000) days of the general minimum wage in the District Federal for the previous twelve (12) months, or Monthly deposits of Income or Pensions should be the equivalent of four hundred (400) days of the current minimum wage in the Federal District for each of the previous six (6) months. Current 2013 D.F. general minimum wages of $64.76 MXN pesos per day, converted at the current exchange rate of 13.00 pesos to U.S. dollars, for four-hundred (400) days of wages. $2,000 USD (equivalent to $25,904 pesos) per month of regular deposits.

Financial Requirements for a Permanent Resident visa:

Provide twelve (12) months of original bank statements as proof of income or savings/investments, to show equivalent to twenty five thousand (25,000) days of the general minimum wage in the D.F. for the previous twelve (12) months. or Monthly minimum income or pension deposits that are the equivalent of five hundred (500) days of the current minimum wage in the D.F., for each of the previous six (6) months. $2,500 USD ($32,380 pesos) per month of regular deposits.

Many INM offices are reducing the monthly income or pension deposit requirements by one-half (½) for applicants who own property in Mexico.


Visitor and Temporary Visa holders may have a foreign plated car as long as the remainder of the laws applying to those visas is followed. Permanent Visa holders must have Mexican plated cars or take their foreign plated car out of the country. This part of the new immigration law is complex and one should seek the advice of a Mexican attorney.

Neither the author of this article, nor Ajijic Real Estate, are attorneys and do not represent this article as legal advice. If you have questions regarding your immigration status you should consult with a Mexican attorney who specializes in immigration laws.

Business Opportunities

Mexico welcomes foreign investment, and offers countless opportunities for new businesses. A recent law change now allows foreigners to own one hundred percent (100%) of a Mexican corporation. Bilingual legal, accounting and business consulting expertise is available in the Lake Chapala area or nearby Guadalajara.

Purchasing a Home

When buying property in Mexico there are many factors to consider. With the cost of housing on the rise, purchasing real estate can be a sound investment for the future. There are still some undervalued properties on the market. Although it is no longer a buyer’s market, it is an opportune time to purchase the home of your dreams.

An important criteria to look for in a real estate firm is professional affiliation. The National Organization of Mexican Realtors (AMPI) is active locally, and membership in this group is considered essential. Many local Realtors have direct affiliation with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in the U.S. and are members of their International Real Estate Section. Brokers and their agents should be affiliated with these organizations.

If you consider buying property in Mexico, you must seek professional real estate advice. Ajijic Real Estate is the professional full-service real estate office. Agents are on call to counsel, when appropriate, and to offer their professional service in locating the property that is right for you. Part of their job is helping you discover what your real estate needs are and then helping you satisfy them.

A Multiple Listing Type Of Service

When looking for a home through Ajijic Real Estate be assured that you will be shown all homes and properties in the area that meet your criteria. There is an active multiple listing service covering all of the lakeside, and Ajijic Real Estate has computer access to all of the participating real estate companies listings through its membership in both AMPI Lake Chapala and CAR (Chapala Association of Realtors) the two local real estate boards.