My last post dealt with determining what type of Mexican visa or permit you should apply for. Now that you have made that decision, this post will help you with the process of applying for and getting that visa or permit. If you have not read my other post, please visit “Moving to Mexico…WhichVisa is right for you?” before you begin.
The Residency Visa process starts at a Mexican Consulate in the
While the process is very similar wherever you apply, each office seems to have
some leeway as to what they require for documentation and financial
requirements. To begin the process, first call or email the office you will be
using to make an appointment and to verify what you need to bring. We worked
with the Consulate in Sacramento.
We called and got voice mail, left a message and also sent an email. They promptly
called us back and politely answered all our questions. Your actual experience
may vary depending on the office and the individual you are dealing with!
As of this writing, to apply for either a Temporary or Permanent Residency you will need the following:
- A valid passport and copy of the main page.
- 1 color photo passport size, front view, no eyeglasses on white background
- $36 in cash for filing regardless if you are approved or not
- Visa application form (can be printed from the web and filled out ahead of time, or done at the consulate office)
- Any other documents required by the type of visa you are applying for. (Be sure to verify with the consulate where you are going since some may require slightly different documents)
Upon arrival at the Mexican consulate they will conduct a short interview, and look over all your documents to make sure you have what they are requesting. If all the documents are in order, they will begin to process them and you will have to wait during this time. Depending on your circumstances, it is possible you may be asked to conduct a second personal interview with the Consular as well (we did not). Once all the documents have been approved, they will take your photo and fingerprints. When this is done they will issue and attach the visa into your passport. From what we have read, we were very fortunate and the entire process took a little over four hours and our passports were ready the same day. However we have read about people who had to go back another day to pick everything up, so be prepared for a return trip.
Once you receive the visa in your passport you have 180 days to enter
After you enter Mexico you then
need to start the final immigration process within 30 days. When you arrive in Mexico make
sure that the immigration form you fill out is marked by the immigration official
as valid for 30 days (residency). Please
note: Once you have entered Mexico,
and while they are processing the final paperwork for your “card” you can not
leave Mexico without special permission which may be difficult to obtain.
This usually takes 6-8 weeks so be sure to plan for it.
The final immigration process will take place at the Immigration Office. Here you will pay the actual fee for the visa (check for current fees), however they will not accept the payment from you at the office. You (or your facilitator if you use one) will need to go to a nearby bank. As all the paperwork etc is in Spanish and the Immigration officials will most probably not speak English, the easiest way to complete this process is to hire a facilitator. If there is an expat community in your area you can usually find one easily. In San Miguel de Allende we hired Patty Garcia and she handled everything. We met her at an office across the street from Immigration, she asked some questions, filled out the forms, had us sign them, and took the additional photos needed. We then paid her for her services (Approx $40 USD) and the payment for the visa which she took to the bank and deposited to immigration. She then presented everything to the immigration office on our behalf. Once they had approved the applications (about 4 weeks) she contacted us to meet her at the Immigration office to sign the final documents and take fingerprints. Approximately 2 weeks later we met with Patty again and picked up our cards. While you can do everything yourself, Patty made the entire process about as painless as possible, and unless you speak fluent Spanish, I highly recommend the use of a facilitator.
*Note: If you are going in as a married couple and want to have them look at combined documents you will need to bring your certified marriage certificate. You may need an apostille on the document from the Secretary of State in the state where you were married.