Since May 25, 2011, Mexico has had new immigration procedures by presidential decree. Below is a synopsis of the changes, courtesy of mexdata.info:
A Thumbnail Sketch for Expatriates of Mexico’s New Immigration Law
By Keph Senett
On May 25, 2011, in response to mounting concerns about the safety and welfare of migrants, a Decree signed by Mexican President Felipe Calderon promulgating a new Migration Law (Ley de Migración) was published. The law, which is designed to favor the human rights of migrants regardless of their nationality, affects all foreigners in Mexico including those from Canada and the United States. In consultation with Puerto Vallarta lawyer Claudia Cadena of Cadena and Associates, we help you understand what this means.
The new Migration Law was enacted in response to intensifying violence against migrants and reports of complicity by immigration officials. ”The law favors migration to the country [in a] more orderly and safe manner, [and] procedures are simplified for the stay of foreigners in Mexico,” President Felipe Calderon said, adding, “The Mexican government is doing what we have long urged [of] the United States.”
According to El Economista.com.mx, the Migration Law completely decriminalizes migration in the country, and also mandates the creation of the Center for Evaluation and Control of Trust that will oversee the conduct of immigration authorities. All officials at the National Migration Institute will be required to meet the same standards as the rest of the country’s security agencies.
In addition to these changes, the law contains new criteria and rules for issuing visas or permits to foreigners who are in the country either temporarily or permanently (these changes are included in Article 52). To help understand the implications for the expatriate community in Mexico, PV Pulse consulted Puerto Vallarta lawyer Claudia Cadena of Cadena and Associates, who provided us with some interpretation. The notes below were prepared with her input.
1. Details have have not yet been published, however, those who already have FM2s or FM3s will be able to retain their status and obtain extensions. Criteria and requirements to live in Mexico on a temporary or permanent basis are available on the National Migration Institute web site.
2. The procedures for extending temporary and permanent stays will largely remain the same. Special care must be taken to respect the deadlines (expiration dates). Extensions must be managed 30 days before expiration to continue a legal residence permit. These rules and procedures may change as the immigration authority is still establishing processes. It is always recommended that applicants complete the process well before the deadline. Requirements can be viewed here.
3. Those holding FM3s (temporary residence) can renew for up to four years (an initial application plus three annual renewals). All renewals must be processed 30 days before expiration. If the person is abroad, they have 60 days to complete the extension without penalty. Applications outside these deadlines will be subject to a fine.
4. In the case of people holding an FM2 (permanent residence), the card may be extended for up to five years with annual renewals, with the condition that the person is not out of the country for more than two years. An FM2 holder can apply in the fourth year to become an “inmigrado,” on the condition that the person has not been abroad more than 18 months of a continuous or discontinuous time period.
5. Regarding the ”visitor visa,” which is set out in Article 52, Section I of the Migration Law, permission is restricted to a visit in Mexico of no more than 180 days. After that time the person must leave the country but they are able to return.
6. One significant change affecting foreigners is that the FM2 and FM3 designations will be replaced by a “green card.” A disadvantage of this card is that unlike the old system, the new system will not include information about the person’s work or other reason for being in the country. This means that in some cases, the person may have to provide further paperwork to the immigration authorities.
7. A benefit to the new structure is that if a person changes employer but not their activity, the immigration authority will not charge a fee (“derecho”) for processing the paperwork. Payment depends on the applicant’s status, but for a non-immigrant the fee is $1,294 for non-profit activity and $2,102.00 for profit activity. For an immigrant, it’s $2,801. These amounts can be referenced here.
8. If they meet all tax rules in the tax law, permanent residents might apply for the benefit of not paying capital gain when selling real estate. Potential sellers should consult a tax lawyer.
In addition to the above, the new regulations — which have not yet been published* — will not use the FM2 and FM3 designations. Instead, foreigners will be able to apply to stay under one of four new categories:
Visitor (see Chapter II, Article 52, Items I – VI)
Visitor without permission
Visitor frontier workers
Visitor for humanitarian reasons
Visitor for purposes of adoption
Temporary Resident (see Chapter II, Article 52, Item VII)
Temporary Resident Student (see Chapter II, Article 52, Item VIII)
Permanent Resident (see Chapter II, Article 52, Item IX)
On implementation, status — either “temporal” or “residente” — will be conferred using new ID cards called a Tarjeta de Residencia. Current visas are good until their expiration date, with FM3 and FM2 cardholders switching to the new system on renewal. For renewals that take place before the new regulations are published, the new card will be issued (immigration officials will no longer be stamping FM3 and FM2 books) and existing procedures will be followed until the changes take effect. There’s no official word on when this will happen.*
Further acknowledgements are due writer Steven M. Fry at YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan, who has set out a number of other salient points about the effect of the new Migration Law on the expat community in Mexico. There is a wealth of commentary and expertise on this issue at his site.
- · To access the Decree that establishes the new Migration Law, go to the Official Daily of the Federation (in Spanish).
- · This document is informational only, and should not be construed as legal advice.
* MexiData.info note: Transitional Point Three of the Decree states that the new Regulation of the Migration Law is to be published within 180 days (counting from May 26, 2011). In the meantime, the Regulation of the General Population Law will remain in effect, excepting any rules or directives therein that may contradict the new law.
This article, “How the New Immigration Law Affects Mexico’s Expats,” was first published by PV Pulse(http://www.pvpulse.com/) on Jul. 2, 2011. PV Pulse is “a community site that encompasses all that Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay represent.” Reprinted with permission.