Those of us who have been coming to México for years remember the days when a passport wasn’t needed and you just showed your birth certificate. You could bring your van and park on the beach or travel for months with hardly a care about your immigration status.
It’s been on the horizon for a while but finally it seems that Mexican Immigration is tightening up on the length of visas given and also detaining and sometimes deporting those who are not in compliance.
The first situation that is changing is the time of permission to enter as a tourist. In the past it was almost always 180 days. Some people would leave and come back every 180 days and never apply (as is required) for a residency visa. The 180 days is no longer a given, many people expecting 180 have been given as few as 10 days! If you are a snowbird make sure you have all your paperwork with you. I heard recently about a person given a short amount of time on entry to the country even though they had a six month lease signed. I understand they didn’t have an exit plane ticket and couldn’t provide the address of the place they had rented. So please be aware that you should have everything possible at hand when you are preparing for your entry to México.
Since you can no longer count on serial 180 day visas, if you want to stay here you should apply for a residency visa. (There are two, Temporal and Permanente) For either of these visas you need to start the process at a consulate in a country other than México and complete the process here once approvals are given. There is a cost for the visa and you must fulfil certain financial requirements. These financial requirements are tied to the Mexican minimum wage and hence they go up pretty much every year.
Another situation is people who overstay their tourist visas. Immigration is now checking busses – all Mexicans must show their identification and all foreigners must show their visas. I have read of a number of people held for several days in holding cells and then deported who were not in compliance.
If you’re on Facebook, I would suggest that you follow Sonia Diaz. She is a visa expediter in San Miguel de Allende who is generous enough to share her wisdom and what she is hearing with all her followers. She has a great website that will explain laws and requirement in plain English.
Sonia has also shared that all of us here on Permanente and Temporal visas should carry them with us at all times. Most people (including me) had been in the habit of only carrying them when away from our hometown and keeping a picture in our phone if we needed to show it while at home. But this has changed as well. Take care to not lose it but carry it with you at all times.
I am so grateful to have been able to live in México these last 14 years. Computer tracking is here and we should all comply as the good citizens we are.
Oh, for any and all people considering México as a place to live please keep in mind that you must have a special visa in order to be allowed to work. Don’t think that you can just hang out your shingle and you’re good to go. You also will need to register with SAT (Mexican IRS) and make all appropriate and timely tax payments. And please keep in mind that renting out your casita or using your house as an Air BnB both generate taxable income. Please talk to an accountant and get the proper permissions, etc.
We have always done everything here by the book and have little sympathy for people who try to game the system but this is a change so plan accordingly.
NOTE: After the publication of this post, Sonia published more information on Facebook that makes it sound like Mexico is less interested in snowbirds and immigrants than before. Here is the link.