Tourist visa vs. resident visa

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Recently on the Facebook page Move to Mexico, someone posted a question about overstaying the 180-day limit on their tourist (FMM) visa, and one of the answers included a link to this helpful article: Your Mexico Visitors Permit, FMM, published July 10, 2017.

If you plan to drive in as a tourist, read this, too: Updates on Temporary Import Permits from Mexico’s Aduana.

When I moved to Mexico in 2008, I drove across the border, purchasing both a tourist visa and a TIP (temporary import permit for my car) at the Immigration building at the border. Then, within the allotted 180 days, I traveled back to the U.S. by car and renewed both documents for another 180 days. After nearly two years of this, I got tired of the long trips that were not always ideally timed, and I wanted to bring in more than the allotted US$300 worth of goods, so I applied for a temporary resident visa (then called FM3, now called RT or Residente Temporal).

Once you have a temporary residency visa, you must take care never to let the authorities mark you as a tourist when you enter Mexico. Here is an article on that: Temporary and Permanent Residents Entering Mexico as “Tourists”: Don’t …

After four years of residing full time in Mexico on a temporary visa, I applied for a permanent resident visa (formerly FM2, now RP or Residente Permanente), which at the time could be had for the same payment as the RP renewal once you had four years of continuous residency under the RP.

The law has since changed, and now it’s harder to get a resident visa because the threshold of monthly income from the U.S. or other foreign country has gone up, and Immigration is looking closely at the source of the monthly income: you can’t just transfer money back and forth from savings to checking any more.

Here are the current requirements for obtaining a temporary or permanent resident visa for Mexico: General Summary of the Steps for Getting Mexican Residency Application Process for Either Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente (for foreigners with no immediate Mexican family).

If anything you read here raises questions, please say so in the comments and I’ll help you find the answer. Or call your local Mexican embassy or consulate.

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