Mexico immigration policy

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What is Mexico Immigration policy?

They are a set of

·         Laws and regulations that guide the entry, exit, and activities of foreign nationals in Mexico

·         Documents and procedures all foreigners living in Mexico for a short or long time must provide or adhere to.

In this article, we want to review the history of Mexico’s immigration law, its current state, and the application processes, so read on to know more.

Just like any other country on the planet, Mexico has an immigration policy that guides the entry and status of immigrants in the country. These laws have become necessary in light of the massive migration of nationals from different parts of the world, particularly from the Caribbeans, Central America, and South American countries, to the United States.

Most of the migrants and asylum seekers plan to cross Mexico into the US, but a significant population eventually settle in Mexico permanently. For years, successive governments have had a hard time dealing with the migrant crisis and the negative effects of illegal immigration on Mexico’s economy and internal security. This has led to stringent immigration enforcement.

Negative Reaction From Citizens

In 2019, a Washington Post and Reforma survey showed that the majority of Mexicans were not happy with the illegal immigrants entering their country from Central America. Of the number of people surveyed, only 7% supported the idea of the government providing residency to these migrants who were in their country illegally.

While about 33% supported a temporary stay, 55% wanted them deported to their respective countries. The results threw more light on the negative opinion majority of Mexicans had towards illegal immigrants in their country.

Their main criticism was that the migrants were

·         Competing with them for jobs

·         Placed a strain on medical facilities

·         Making their cities and villages unsafe due to rising crimes

In light of this, successive administrations have strengthened Mexico’s immigration laws to protect the country from the effects of illegal migration from Central America and other parts of the world.

The Migration Act & The General Population Act

Mexico has a robust immigration policy under its Migration & General Population Act. This law regulates the actions and status of immigrants in the country. As of today, Americans are the largest group of immigrants living in Mexico, with an estimated 1.5 million people.

Of this number, a significant number of them do not have a Mexican visa and so, therefore, are residing in the country illegally.

Besides American citizens, the government documents hundreds of thousands of illegal crossing of nationals and asylum seekers from different countries in Central America and as far as Africa.

The immigration law is designed to regulate immigration, including documents and processes that an immigrant must pass through to get a valid stay in the country. The law also clearly makes out the path to getting Mexican citizenship and legal immigration.

Let’s break down the Mexican immigration policy regarding asylum claims into different categories for better understanding.

Classification Of A Foreigner

In Mexico, a foreigner is classified into different groups.

Non Immigrant

A non-immigrant is a person who is not a Mexican citizen but is given permission by the Mexico Ministry of Interior to stay in the country ad a tourist, trans-migrant, visitor, political asylum seeker, refugee, correspondent, or religious minister.

Based on the law of the Federal government, anybody who falls into any of these groups is viewed as a non-immigrant.


According to Mexico’s national institute, an immigrant is a person legally living in Mexico with a long-term goal of settling. Legal immigrants may be an investor, career professionals, an annuitant, scientists, technicians, family members, artists, athletes, freelancers, or anybody with proof of trustworthy work.


Then we have those classified as migrants. These are people who are issued the right to stay in Mexico permanently.

Mexican Visas Issued To Foreigners

The Ministry of the Interior issues a visa to foreign nationals depending on the nature of their situation and intention. Here are the different types of visas issued to applicants.

Visitor Visa 1

The first type of visitor visa is issued to applicants, but they are not allowed to participate in any income-generating activity. This visa is mainly issued to tourists, and they are to spend not more than 180 days in the country. The tourist visa grants them admission into Mexico, and it is terminated at expiry or once they depart.

Visitor Visa 2

This is similar to the tourist visa, but it is issued to a non-tourist. The holder of this visa can stay in Mexico but must not remain inside the country for more than 180 days. They are also not allowed to engage in any economic activity during the period.

Visitor Visa For Adoption

A visitor visa for adoption allows the applicant to remain in the country during the child adoption process. Adoptions take time for the adoptee to receive their passport and other legal documents. To protect the adopter from violating the law, this document grants them a legal stay until the process is complete.

Temporary Resistant Visa

A temporary visa is issued to a foreigner and grants him or her the legal right to remain in Mexico for not more than 4 years. During this period, the holder can engage in economic activities to earn a living. But to qualify for a temporary visa, you must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you have enough funds to stay in the country or you can earn a steady income.

Temporary Resident Visa For Student

This temporary visa is specially created for foreigners schooling in any of Mexico’s academic institutions. With this document, the student can remain in Mexico to complete their course before leaving.

Permanent Resident Visa

A permanent resident visa allows the holder to remain in Mexico indefinitely. This visa is issued only to

·         Asylum seekers

·         Pensioners who get a pension from a foreign government

·         Protect the right to preserve a family unit

·         Those who have held a temporary resident visa for the last four years or two years if legally married to a Mexican

·         Children of foreign nationals who were born in Mexico

·         Lineal descendants up to try second degree of Mexican birth

·         Those granted express permission by the National Migration Institute

Application Conditions of Mexican Visa

Visitors who get a visa under a certain condition cannot change their status unless for humanitarian reasons. To make any change, they will have to leave Mexico and reapply for entry.

Secondly, temporary residents have a period of 30 days from the day they submit their application to negotiate with the Migration Institute for a residency card.

The card becomes active once it is issued and all-time constraints apply. Besides these clauses, the foreign resident must

·         Register with the legal National Register of Foreigners

·         Inform the National Migration Institute about any changes to their status, if any

General Population Law

The General Population Law is a comprehensive set of rules and convention that governs the status of immigrants in Mexico. This law seeks to control migration flows and attract the right set of foreigners into the country.

The law simplifies the entrance and residency requirements of applicants and was set up to replace those previous immigration laws. The two categories of Immigrant and non-immigrant have been real with visitors and Temporary Residents. Under these two categories are 30 different types of sub-categories or foreigners, such as religious ministers, distinguished visitors, and the like.

The law also distinguishes residents who are allowed to work and those not allowed to. According to Articles 124-127 of the regulation, officials of the immigration ministry are the only qualified personnel to conduct immigration procedures.

The law also creates verification procedures for migrant shelters operated by civil society organizations.

Mexican Migratory Status

The government of Mexico classifies foreigners living in Mexico under three categories, namely

·         Temporary Resident

·         Permanent Resident

·         Visitor

These statuses are established by the National Institute of Immigration (INM) and regulate the stay, entry, and exit of foreigners as well as Mexican citizens in Mexico.

This body is responsible for granting Mexico consular offices in other countries the right to issue legal travel documents to foreign nationals who want to visit Mexico. The visas are categorized as follows

·         Business visitor visa

·         Tourist visa

·         Internship visa

·         Rentista visitor visa

·         Technical visa

·         Visitor visa

·         Student visa

The application process takes two working days, but citizens of certain countries are exempted from applying for a visa. For instance, if you are from a visa-exempt country and plan to stay for a short time, you can apply for Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM), which gives you the right to stay in Mexico for not more than 180 days.

Qualified applicants can apply for it before they leave their country or when they arrive in Mexico.

Forma Migratoria Multiple

Also called FMM, this is a legal document that is also called a tourist visa even though it is not. It is issued to nationals of countries that don’t require a visa to enter Mexico.

FMM can be filled online or by hand. If you are flying into Mexico, you will pay for the form alongside your ticket, and once on board, the flight attendants will issue you the form to fill.

If you are coming through any of Mexico’s land borders, you will be issued one at the point of entry. For an online application, you can pay for it with your credit or debit card.

Once you present it to the immigration officials on duty, they will stamp it, tear it into two and give you one half, which must be kept safe. On the day you depart, the officers will ask for the form before you are let through the barricade, so endeavor to keep the form safe as is expected by the immigration system.

Migratory Documents And Their Duration

Tourist/Business Visa

Based on Mexican law, if you are a tourist or a business visitor, you can enter Mexico with a tourist visa or an FMM if you are from a visa-exempt country. This visa is valid for six months. But if you are a transit visitor Enroute another country you can stay for a period of one month but not more than that.

However, note that under certain conditions, a business visa can last up to one year, with the holder allowed to enter and exit the country multiple times for as long as it lasts. For this, you may need express permission signed by a federal judge.

Technical Visitor Visa

A technical visitor visa lasts for up to a year, and the holder is allowed multiple entries for as long as it remains valid.

 Note that documents like FMM can’t be extended or changed, so you will have to depart the country and reapply for entry. For other visa types, extensions and renewal requests must be made to the National Institute of Immigration (INM) at least 30 days before it expires.

Unauthorized immigrants are subject to sanctions of border enforcement since they don’t have the legal status to be there.

Permanent Resident Policy

A person who wishes to become a permanent resident in Mexico must have been a temporary resident for at least 5 years before applying for permanent status. Once they have stayed for that long and have no criminal record, they can apply for a permanent stay in the country. Those with permanent residency CAN freely travel and engage in economic activities.

 Mexico Work Permit Policy

The immigration law creates a safe space for foreigners on a visa to participate in income-generating activities but to do that; they must request a work permit by applying to the National Migration Institute.

This application process takes 30 working days to process, and those hired to work in Mexico must go through the vetting process.

If you apply for a work permit in your home country, the authorities will send you a notification inviting you for an interview at the Mexican Consulate within 15 days. You will need to provide scanned copies of your passport, personal details, and passport photographs.

You will also need to fill out the work permit application form, which is to be submitted along with other documents. Within two days, the permit or work visa will be issued.

Mexico’s immigration policy is a set of rules, regulations, procedures, and documents that govern the entry, exit, and stay of immigrants in Mexico. The conditions of allowing immigrants to remain in Mexico vary depending on the conditions, and every situation is unique. If you want to migrate to Mexico or visit for a short stay, make sure you do your due diligence and follow through with the legal process so you don’t encounter any issues in the future.

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