The visa process for expats is different in each area of México. We had no idea before we moved here that the INM office here would be one of the many reasons that we love Mazatlán! They are efficient and friendly.
Here’s our recent experience. We had held FM-3 visas for four years and FM-2 visas for two. With the recent changes to immigration policy we decided to change to Residente Permanente, which gives us all rights and obligations as a Mexican citizen except for the ability to vote. We’re thankful we have a Mexican plated car so we didn’t need to think about that with regard to our visa.
August 8 – Our initial visit to INM. Within ten minutes we’d had our paperwork checked and had been given an invoice to pay at the bank for 1000 pesos each. ($75.58 USD) This is basically the deposit to start the paperwork. After we returned from the bank we went to Angel Cruz next door and he prepared the letter and forms that were to go back to INM with the receipt from the bank. We took everything back to INM (another 10 minutes) and were given our application number so we could check online when to come back and be fingerprinted. Before we left we went back to Angel and had our passport size pictures taken.
August 13 – We actually could have gone back in on the 12th to have our fingerprints taken, but we had other plans that morning. On the 13th we went to INM and were given another form to take to the bank and pay. This one was 3815 pesos for each of us. ($288.34 USD) When we returned with the receipt there was a short wait and then we were fingerprinted – all fingers. We also gave them our passport photos. They told us to come back in two weeks.
August 28 – Again, we could have gone in yesterday but we waited an extra day for a buffer. But when we went in this morning our wait was less than five minutes to pick up our new permanent resident cards! Twenty days from start to finish and probably less than two hours spent total, even with travel back and forth to the bank.
One reason things went so fast for us is that there are fewer people applying for renewal here in the summer. The staff at INM makes things easy – and it is a bit of a strange feeling to know that we don’t need to go back in every summer for our renewal ever again!
By the way, if you are planning on moving to México, make sure you start the visa process at the Mexican Embassy in your home state.