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Guide to obtaining your visa as an expat in Yucatán

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Getting a visa in Mexico turns visitors into residents of such historic locales such as this one in the Santiago neighborhood of Merida. Photo: Jorge Zapata / Unsplash

Are you thinking of moving to Yucatán, or any other part of Mexico, in the foreseeable future? If so, you’ll probably already know that there’s so much to enjoy here, including the richness of the Spanish language, a varied landscape and culture, plus the delicious food from chilaquiles to enchiladas.

In particular, the state of Yucatán offers such awesome experiences as the capital Mérida, the famed Mayan ruins of Chichén Itza, plus top beaches like Mahahual and Chelem.

Of course, if you intend to reside here as an expatriate, you’ll need to acquire your Mexican visa first. There are a variety of travel and residency documents available, depending on your circumstances and plans to live in ‘Mexico lindo y querido’ (pretty, loved Mexico!) Broadly speaking, these visas can be distinguished into three categories:

  1. Visitor Visa (Visa para Visitantes). The Visitor Visa is ideal if you’re traveling to Mexico to decide if you wish to reside here long-term. It allows you to stay for up to six months.
  2. Temporary Resident Visa (Visa de Residente Temporal). This visa is for people who intend to reside in Mexico for between six months and four years. You can use it to work in Mexico, so it’s ideal if, for example, you’re being stationed here by your company for a set period of time.
  3. Permanent Resident Visa (Visa de Residente Permanente). You apply for this visa if you intend to reside in Mexico permanently, and if you at some point wish to become a Mexican citizen. There are a number of ways to acquire Permanent Resident status depending on your circumstances, and we’ll discuss them in this article.

So read on to learn more about acquiring the Mexican visa that’s right for you, courtesy of online visa service Byevisa.com. ¡Vamonos! (Let’s go!)

1. Visitor Visa (Visa para Visitantes)

As we mention above, Mexico’s Visitor Visa is ideal if you’re exploring this country with a view to moving here. It’s intended for tourist or business trips of up to six months (183 days). 

Typically, you obtain the Visitor Visa on your flight here by filling in what’s called a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) or Tourist Card. The FMM costs around 25 USD, although the fee is usually included in the price of your airline ticket. Alternatively, if you’re arriving by other means, you pay for and fill in the FMM at the port of entry.

The citizens of 69 countries and territories are eligible to enter Mexico with just the FMM, including nationals of the USA, UK, EU, Canada, Australia and Japan. The visa’s six-month validity gives you ample time to sample the delights of Yucatán and the rest of Mexico, ahead of emigrating here!

2. Temporary Resident Visa (Visa de Residente Temporal)

If you’ve visited Mexico and fallen in love, acquiring a Visa de Residente Temporal is the next logical step. This is also an appropriate visa if you’re residing here for a limited period of time, for instance, to work on a project for your international employer.

The Temporary Resident Visa enables you to remain in Mexico for between six months and four years, and it allows unlimited entries to and from the country. This residency document is initially valid for one year; then, you can renew it for one, two or three years more.

There are multiple categories for this visa, depending on the activity you intend to undertake and whether it’s lucrative or non-lucrative (i.e. whether you’ll get paid). Notably, you’ll have to demonstrate that you can financially support yourself during your stay to be eligible for this visa. If you intend to work here, this could take the form of your salary, or if you’re retiring or investing here, this may be your overseas savings or government pension.

Related: To import or not to import your stuff to Mexico? That is the question

In most cases, you must apply for this residency document outside of Mexico, typically at your home country’s Mexican embassy. So you cannot, for example, switch from a Visitor Visa to a temporary resident visa while you’re already in-situ. 

When your visa is issued by the embassy, this will initially take the form of a pre-approval and a sticker in your passport. Then, when you arrive, you’ll have to visit your local immigration office to exchange this for the temporary residency permit itself (a plastic card) within 30 days of getting here.

Once you’ve got your plastic card, then — ¡olé! — you’re a temporary resident of Mexico. ¡Bienvenido/a! (Welcome!)

3. Permanent Resident Visa (Visa de Residente Permanente)

You apply for the Visa de Residente Permanente if you’ve decided that — ¡sí, señor! — this country is the place for you and you wish to reside here indefinitely. 

Importantly, you don’t necessarily have to have held a Temporary Resident Visa first to become a permanent resident of Mexico, so long as you meet the other conditions. To obtain a Permanent Resident Visa are, you must comply with one of the following:

  • You’ve held a Temporary Resident Visa for four consecutive years.
  • You’ve held a Temporary Resident Visa for two consecutive years and you’re married to a Mexican citizen or permanent resident.
  • You have close relatives or family connections in Mexico.
  • You plan to retire here and can demonstrate your financial solvency.
  • You’re being granted political asylum or residency for humanitarian reasons.

As with the Temporary Resident Visa, the permanent residency document is available to people in a variety of circumstances and walks of life. For example, you can apply if you’re retired, an investor, a working professional or even a prominent person with national or international standing.

Also, as with the Temporary Resident Visa, you cannot apply for permanent residency within Mexico in most cases. Instead, you must apply at a Mexican embassy, normally in your home country.

Once issued, your Visa de Residente Permanente takes the form of a plastic card that resembles a driver’s license. With this, you can enter and exit Mexico as you please! 

Also, you’ll require this status to become a citizen here (a process called naturalización) unless, for example, you’re married to a Mexican national in which case the route can be faster.

To conclude, we hope that you’ve found this article useful on your way to living in Yucatán! If you require further information, consult your Mexican embassy or an immigration lawyer. ¡Que usted lo pase muy bien aquí! (Have a great time here!)

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