While Mexico does not market a full-blown program designed to entice foreign retirees to its shores, this country is nevertheless a friendly haven for retirees and others from the U.S., Canada, and beyond.

Mexico Visa: Visitor Permit

The first time you come to Mexico, you will no doubt do so as a tourist, and you’ll get an entry permit as a visitor with no lucrative activity in Mexico. You’ll fill out an immigration form and then be given your visitor permit after you fly into the country…or at the border when you cross by car or truck. Your visitor permit allows you to remain in Mexico for up to 180 days (almost six months) without working.

Mexico Visa: Temporary Resident Visa

There are many types of temporary resident (residente temporal) visa in Mexico—for retirees, artists, sports figures, scientists, ministers, and the like. What they have in common is that they’re designed for people who wish to be in Mexico more than 180 days a year. You can hold a temporary resident visa for up to four years.

The most common type of temporary resident visa for expats is as a retiree. To get it, you have to show that you can support yourself in Mexico on funds you’ve earned (or are earning) elsewhere. The minimum monthly requirement is about $1,553 in net income for an individual (as shown on your last six months of bank statements), plus about $520 a month for each dependent. Alternatively, you can provide bank account or investment statements for the last 12 months that show an average balance of at least $25,880. A third way is to show that you own a property in Mexico that has a value of at least about $207,046.

You apply for your temporary resident visa at the Mexican consulate nearest your home, not in Mexico itself. You can apply for a temporary resident visa that is valid for one, two, three, or up to the full four years. After four years on this visa, however, you must either leave Mexico or switch to a permanent resident visa. The four years that you’ve held a temporary resident visa automatically qualifies for permanent status.

The specifics change from time to time, so be sure to check with your nearest Mexican consulate for the most up-to-date information.

Mexico Visa: Permanent Resident Visa

If you know you wish to live in Mexico long-term, you can opt to apply immediately for a permanent resident visa, bypassing the temporary-resident step. The permanent resident visa is open-ended—there is no expiration date. It also gives you many of the rights and responsibilities of a Mexican citizen, including the right to work. It does not give you the right to vote in Mexico, however. Nor does it make you a Mexican citizen—that is a separate process.

You must show higher income requirements for a permanent resident visa. You can show investments with an average monthly balance over 12 months of about $103,523. Or you can show a monthly net income or pension over the last six months of at least $2,588.

Q&A on Residency Visa in Mexico

What is required in order to apply for the permanent residency visa in Mexico?

I am an IL subscriber, have attended a conference and have visited several countries. I need information on Mexican permanent visa. I know you can apply for permanent residence and skip temporary status. But what is required regarding how much time needs to be spent in Mexico? We stay for 13 weeks each year, plan to increase to 5 months within few years. We’d like to get moving on obtaining permanent residency which we know needs to be applied for in our home country (MN,USA) Do you have to reside full-time in Mexico?

Don Murray – Mexico Correspondent

Hi Sandra,

You are correct in that applications for Mexican Visas of all types (excepting visitor/tourist) are made by applying through your Mexican Consulate in your home country/State/Province.

With only one exception, all residency visas are first issued as Temporary Visas and must be regularly renewed. The only residency visa that may be issued “permanently” is issued under “Pensioner” or retired status. You must provide all the normal documents in addition to proving income equivalent to about $2500 monthly. The monthly amount varies according to a formula.

Permanent visa holders may come and go, without restrictions, at any time they wish, with no time requirements. However, all that said, your visitor’s visa will permit you to legally stay in Mexico for 180 days if you are a U.S. or Canadian citizen. Based on your current situation, there is no need to apply for a residency visa at this time.

A great resource that will thoroughly explain Mexican Immigration policy can be found here: http://www.mexperience.com/lifestyle/living-in-mexico/visas-and-immigration/

Best of luck!

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