Mexico residency visa types explained: which one is right for you?

There are many Mexico residency visa categories and before applying, you need to know the right visa type for you.

When COVID started in 2020, Mexico briefly closed from April to July. Flights from the US and Canada were suspended. Towns were in lockdown. Everything was closed for these 3 months which lead to the loss of jobs and livelihood for the locals.

Mexico is highly dependent on tourism and having the US and Canada as neighbors was a safety net for the regular flow of tourists.

They don’t even need to sell themselves – North Americans will always come to Mexico because of its close proximity.

The world woke up to confusion if they need to travel or not but Mexico was one of the (if not, the only) country open in 2020. It was business as usual here.

With this, many Americans and Canadians who were escaping the pandemic came to Mexico and realized that this was the country they wanted to be in.

COVID also set the long-term travel trend and Mexico has a very generous 180 days tourist visa which attracted not only North Americans but also Europeans.

living in mexico

But this ‘generous’ 180-days visa also encouraged many foreigners to exceed that stay and extend their invite. Since Mexico is super lax with visa rules, many people didn’t care if they overstayed nor bothered to extend their tourist visa at the immigration office. You are only going to pay US$25 for overstay anyway.

Then in November 2021, Mexico decided to stop the 180 days tourist visa. There was a big buzz in our expat Facebook groups about it. Foreigners and tourists who were expecting to get 180 days got 10 days, 25 days, etc – some even got 7.

There wasn’t a concrete answer on why it was happening or how to cheat the system but when I talked to my lawyer about it, she said that it is up to the immigration officer how many days they will give you.

You need to show proof of accommodations, flights, etc which will determine the number of days they will give you to stay in the country.

Meaning, if you are a digital nomad or remote worker who which to enter Mexico and stay for 180 days, this would be a problem as nomads don’t usually plan their travels for the next 6 months.

By the beginning of 2022, I received over a hundred 1-1 private consultations from many nationalities from all over the world expressing their need to apply for a temporary resident visa in Mexico.

The spike was so high that I had to turn down some consults or divide it within our team of locals in the country.

To be honest, it is easy to obtain a residency permit but you really have to identify the Mexico residency visa categories that apply to your circumstance. In this article, you will find out which is the right visa type for you.

mexico residency visa categories

???? What is a temporary resident visa in Mexico?

The temporary resident visa in Mexico is for foreigners and expats who which to stay in Mexico for a period of more than 180 days.

mexico residency visa categories

This visa allows you to stay in Mexico for 1-4 years but again, depending on your Mexico residency visa category, there are limits on what you can do in Mexico within your visa type.

I will discuss that all in this article so you’ll better understand which one is right for you.

???? How can I get permanent residence in Mexico?

Every first-timer residency permit applicant is given temporary status. You need to complete 4 years of temporary residency in Mexico before applying for a permanent.

Foreign nationals married to a Mexican or have a Mexican child are the only ones who are qualified for a permanent status without completing the 4-year temporary residency.

I am in year 2 of my temporary residency and I’ve asked my lawyer many times how I can get my temporary residency visa right away.

mexico residency visa categories

Believe me, most of them offered for me to marry and I know many foreigners have done it to get my permanent status!

I just never thought of doing it and rather just wait but they already told me there is no other way but this.

After 2 years of permanent residency, you will be eligible in applying for Mexican citizenship given that you lived in Mexico within those 2 years.

If obtaining Mexican citizenship is not part of your plan, permanent residency in Mexico does not expire (literally no expiration date on the card) so you can always keep coming back and call Mexico your home without immigration problems.

⚖️ Need a lawyer to help you process your residency visa? Fill out this form and my lawyer will get in touch with you!

???????? The 5 Mexico residency visa categories

#1: Non-lucrative visa

The non-lucrative visa is what I refer to as the digital nomad visa just for people to better understand the term – it is not called a DN visa per se.

This visa is for foreign citizens who can prove that they are earning US$2,200 per month from a company outside of Mexico.

Limitations of this visa include non-lucrative activities within the country. Meaning, you cannot do transactions with Mexican companies and I very much warn entrepreneurs about this.

mexico residency visa categories

As a non-lucrative visa holder, you are not obliged to pay taxes in Mexico so they are very strict about lucrative activities.

This was the first visa type I applied for and I had to do it in Costa Rica. I entered Mexico as a tourist in 2018 and the lawyer told me that I cannot process my residency visa here. It has to be in another country.

Non-lucrative visa application requirements

  1. A completed application form that you can download here. Make sure all fields are complete and write N/A if it’s not applicable to your case.
  2. Passport with validity of six months
  3. Application fee of US$40 (paid on the day of interview)
  4. Passport size photograph (4.5 x 3.5 cm)
  5. Proof of investments or bank accounts that are equivalent to US$27,000.
  6. Proof of income of US$2,200 (3-6 months proof)
  7. A letter from your company stating your employment status

#2: Work permit

The work permit in Mexico is for foreign nationals who are going to be employed by a company in the country.

The good thing is your employer will take care of this by locally filing your job offer at the immigration office in Mexico.

mexico residency visa categories

Once your employers have registered your contract/offer, you will get your NUT (Número Único de Trámite) and by then, you have to schedule your interview at the embassy.

Your employer will back you up in the entire process so this will be very easy as long as they already offered you the job 100%. This visa allows you to do lucrative activities in Mexico.

Work permit application requirements

  1. Completed application form
  2. Passport valid for 6 months
  3. Signed authorization letter from the INM office with your NUT
  4. Signed job offer from your employer (employment contract or proof of job)
  5. Constancia de Inscripcion de Empleador (your employer’s business registration permit)
  6. Authorization of visa letter from your employer
  7. Flight booking to Mexico
  8. Passport photo (3×2 cm x 26 cm, white background)
  9. Photocopy and original documents
  10. US$36 visa fee

#3: Student visa

This is for foreign nationals who which to study in Mexico and have been accepted in a Mexican University/College/School for programs that will last for more than 6 months.

This visa type is also very easy to obtain as long as the Mexican Institute you enrolled in can provide documents and proof of your enrollment.

mexico residency visa categories

The duration of this visa depends on the number of days/months/years of your program.

Student visa application requirements

  1. Completed visa application form
  2. Passport valid for 6 months
  3. Passport photo (3.9 cm x 3.1 cm, white background)
  4. US$ 48 visa processing fee
  5. Letter of acceptance from the Mexican school that should include your full name, degree/area of studies, start and end date of the course, enrollment receipts, and contact person in your school
  6. Proof of economic solvency (US$800 per month for the last 6 months).
  7. Bank account statement with a yearly income of US$7,194
  8. If you don’t have a job, #6 and #7 requirements should be presented by your parents or the person supporting your studies in Mexico

#4: Joining a family member

This visa type is for those who already have work permits and Mexico and wishes to petition their wives and children. This application is processed by the visa holder who is already in Mexico.

Family reunification visa requirements for spouses

  1. Completed application form
  2. Passport valid for 6 months (yours and your spouse’s)
  3. Your Mexican temporary residence card
  4. Your spouse’s passport photo (4.5 cm x 3.5 cm, white background)
  5. Marriage certificate (apostilled in the country where you got married)
  6. Your Employment letter
  7. Your Salary slips (6 months)
  8. Your Bank statement (6 months)
  9. US$48 visa processing fee

Family reunification visa requirements for children

  1. Completed application form
  2. Passport valid for 6 months (yours, your spouse’s, and your child’s)
  3. Your Mexican temporary residence card
  4. Your child’s passport photo (4.5 cm x 3.5 cm, white background)
  5. Original and photocopy of your child’s birth certificate (must be apostilled in the country of birth)
  6. Your Employment letter
  7. Your Salary slips (6 months)
  8. Your Bank statement (6 months)
  9. US$48 visa processing fee

#5: Regularization

Mexico opened this program at the beginning of 2021 and I was one of the lucky ones who got to apply first. This visa is for those who have overstayed in Mexico during the pandemic.

The first requirement is to present your expired tourist visa form (the paper they gave you when you entered the country). Without this, you are not qualified to apply for this visa type.

Not all immigration offices in Mexico process this type of visa and if they do, the requirements are different.

mexico residency visa categories

For example, when I applied for this visa in Puerto Vallarta, they easily gave me 4 years by presenting my expired tourist card and paying the visa and overstay.

My friends in Oaxaca and other parts of the country told me they were being asked for proof of financial solvency but I was never really asked for this.

It’s best to check the area in Mexico you wish to process your visa in so you’ll know what to expect. As for me, I find Playa del Carmen, Mexico City, and Puerto Vallarta the easiest areas to process this visa type.

Of course, I got a lot of help from my lawyer since the rules are ever-changing. It is up to you if you want to hire a lawyer or not.

✈️ Ready to move to Mexico? If you need more information about the different Mexico residency visa categories, I’d be happy to update this post – just leave a comment below!

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  1. I love the idea of living in Mexico one day. Quick question, I am going to be working in a remote job soon but my salary will be just slightly under US$2,200. Would I be automatically declined because I don’t meet the threshold?

  2. i have been here in mexico for 2 years without any kind of permission ive been married however to a Mexican cit for over 30 years im trying to get my citi for duel l i have slept apart from him 4 days in all our lives together so leaving to go through waiting game not an option i want to work ive always worked and want to be able to go to school our children are all grown but want to come also are they able to apply duel also and if so how does that work thank you for any information in advance

  3. Hola Trisha
    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask questions about my move to Mexico and I am hopeful that the questions that I have will provide clarification to what seems to be a bit confusing for me.

    My name is Mark a Senior, currently living in Santa Rosa in the wine country of Sonoma County north of San Francisco. I am in the active process of selling my Mobile Home in a Senior Park to retire to the Lake Chapala area in Mexico in 2023 or by Jan-Feb 2024. Here are some questions I have that I need help with.

    a-It’s my understanding that I can enter Mexico with a Tourist visa for 6 months. Can I leave Mexico after 5-6 months for week or two and return to apply for 6 months more? How do I apply to get a Mexico Tourist visa for 6 months?

    b-Before going to the Mexico consulate in the U.S., Belize, or Guatemala do I need to have bank statements for the past 6 months showing that my account has XXXK or more + SS deposits?

    c-Bank of America has an international partner in MX which is Scotiabank. Can I open an account at Scotiabank showing what I have in BofA while in MX while only having a 6-month MX tourist Visa, and without having a 6-month financial bank history?

    d- Do I also need to show proof that I am renting a place in Lake Chapala to open a bank account? Want to avoid paying cash for rent so that I have proof of payments for my own protection!

    I very much appreciate your kindness in answering my questions to help make my move to Mexico easier as a happy Expat away from the U.S.

    Aprecio mucho su amabilidad al responder mis preguntas para ayudar a que mi mudanza a México sea más fácil como un expatriado feliz lejos de los EE. UU.
    Muchas Gracias,

  4. Thank you for your article! I am planning my move to PV from Nashville In December! Sucks, it is during high season, but it is what is it. My biggest concern has been getting there with by 70 lb pit bull. Flying, he would HAVE to go in the cargo area, or driving, which a long that drive in through pretty much all of Mexico makes me nervous. Where did you move from and how did you transport your pets? I will be there next month to do as you stated and check out neighborhoods!

    1. It’s quite a drive from Nashville! My 2 dogs are 50 lbs so I put them in cargo. No issue since they are used to flying and I did not have to pay per weight, but per dog. I lived in PV and now in Cabo. Good luck!

  5. Hi,
    I’m British and my wife is Mexican. We’ve been living in the UK for several years. I’ve never lived in Mexico or applied for a visa there.
    We’re thinking of moving to Mexico to live there.
    What sort of visa would I require?

    1. @Simon, temporary residency visa, if you have a kid you will be given permanent. if you move will you work remotely? I am trying to find out for my husband if he can keep paying taxes in uk as he will keep his remote job.

  6. It sounds like you got a temporary residency visa? Why didn’t you choose a permanent as you only have to apply once vs. a temporary has to be renewed and you have to get a permanent anyway after 4 years?

    1. You need to start with a temporary visa first before they give you a permanent one. On the 5th year, you can apply for temporary residency and on the 7th year, you can apply for Mexican citizenship.

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