On May 25th, 2011, Mexico published its new immigration law. While technically the law went into effect when it was published, due to the fact that the technical regulations on how to apply the law had not yet been written, the law had exemptions delaying its effect until the regulations were finalized and published for the record. The regulations went through a draft and public comment period, and have now been published and went into effect on November 1, 2012

Some parts of the new immigration law will affect Americans who plan to obtain Mexican visas to retire and live in Mexico. More specifically, Mexico has changed the income requirements for pensioners wanting to live there.

The law changes the types of visas. The new visas names are:

  • Visitante (visitor), formerly called FMM.
  • Residente Temporal (temporary resident), formerly called FM-3 and FM-2.
  • Residente Permanente (permanent resident), formally called Immigrado.

Residente Temporal applications for retirees and pensioners. Applicants must submit documents proving they meet one of the following requirements:

  1. Original and copy of proof of investments or bank accounts with average monthly balance equivalent to 20,000 days of the minimum wage in the Federal District during the last twelve months, or

  2. Original and copies of documents showing the applicant has monthly employment or unencumbered pension income greater than 400 days of the minimum wage in the Federal District, for the past six months.

The legal minimum daily wage in the Federal District in 2012 is 62.33 pesos, so 400 times that is 24,932 pesos, or $1,890 dollars at today's exchange rate of 13.19 pesos to the dollar. This amount is increased by 50% for each dependent. So, a married couple applying for the new Residente Temporal visa are required to have a minimum monthly income of $2,835.

20,000 days minimum wage is 1,246,600 pesos, or $94,500 dollars.

An applicant for Residente Permanente must show either the same 20,000 days minimum wage in investments or a monthly employment or pension income of 500 times the minimum wage. That would be $2,365 dollars per month of income. A married couple would require $3,548 per month of income.

Prior to this change, an applicant for an FM-3 was required to demonstrate a monthly income of 250 times the minimum daily wage and an applicant for an FM-2 was required to have 400 times the minimum wage. In other words, the new regulations have increased the income requirement for a temporary resident visa by 60%, and a permanent resident visa has increased by 25%.

The application fees for the visas have also increased. A Residente Temporal visa now costs 3,130 pesos ($237) for a single year, whereas prior to the change, the costs were 1,455 pesos ($110) for the FM-3 and 2,282 pesos ($173) for the FM-2.

The average US social security benefit paid in 2012 was $1,230 per month. As such, the average pensioner in the US would not qualify for a temporary resident visa in Mexico without another source of income.


Woooosh Nov. 9, 2012 @ 4:09 p.m.

$237 a year for a visa is a rip-off. Do we at least get a police chief who can pass his control and confidence exam to protect us? Nope. Will this stop Rosarito Beach from becoming a beach slum for deportees and their American families? Is this the end of ex-pat retirees in trailer camps? Nah- it's only for the few expats who follow the rules. I'm guessing around 30% of ex-pats have the correct and current Mexican visa- tops.


SanFelipeNews Nov. 10, 2012 @ 5:45 p.m.

The four-year visa is now $135 per year, a small increase from the current amount (actually a reduction compared to FM2). But more importantly the majority of those with existing FM3s that they've held for over four years will be able to switch to permanent residence, eliminating their annual costs and paperwork after a one-time application.

So for new residents, who only need 4 years on temporary visas (with no annual renewal paperwork) rather than the FM3 then FM2 process, and for existing residents who become permanent, total costs will go down. Still amongst the lowest income requirements and lowest application fees of any similar type of residence visa (such as those from Australia, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Panama).

I know it's fashionable to selectively promote bad news, but these new regulations actually cut costs and complexity for most. I agree the raised income limits will cause problems, but at least there are now alternatives, such as assets or property or family connections.

The references to an additional 50% income required for spouses are completely wrong.


Chuck Levitin Nov. 12, 2012 @ 2:04 p.m.

The reference to the additional 50% for spouses comes directly from Article 41 of the Guidelines for Immigration Procedures, issued November 8, 2012. If you say it is not an additional 50% for a spouse, then it is even worse. The income requirements would apply separately to each spouse, doubling the requirements. You seem to selectively ignore bad news. For instance, in saying things will be cheaper, you failed to state that a permanent resident in Mexico would likely have to put a Mexican license plate on his vehicle, incurring very expensive import duties, in the thousands of dollars. Furthermore, once a vehicle has a Mexican license plate, it can only remain in the US for one year at a time.

If enforced, I predict most Americans retired in Mexico will be unable to meet the income or financial asset test, this will negatively impact the Mexican real estate market as these people are forced to leave. There is no good news here, it's all bad.


SanFelipeNews Nov. 12, 2012 @ 9:34 p.m.

There were 6 related documents issued in DOF on 8th November: http://www.dof.gob.mx/index.php?year=2012&month=11&day=08

Of those, only two have an article 41. One relates to academic visitors, the other covers humanitarian cases where a visitor visa can be exceptionally changed to temporary. Neither has any mention of any spouse, or any amount. Maybe you got the reference wrong?

Yes, you'd expect permanent residents of a country to have their cars registered there, although I agree the importing process is archaic (it would be nice if there was a North American Free Trade Area one day, which means without customs duties).

However, it costs nearer to a thousand to import (rather than thousands) and I've already saved that in the past couple of years by not having to get separate Mexican insurance - the insurance policy for my imported-to-Mexico car includes full coverage in Mexico, the US and Canada for a little less than I was paying for just US+Canada. Most people living in Mexico would be unlikely to take their car away for over a year.

However, although in theory the new rules are simple, the lack of detail in the way existing residents are being handled is causing chaos and I may eventually end up agreeing with you it's a bad thing. Not the law, it has some of the most generous terms for allowing non-citizens residence, anywhere in the world (with the possible exception of Uruguay), but the way the failure to document properly (the botched manuals) means that each local INM office can make up local rules as they like. That's where the problem lies.


Chuck Levitin Nov. 12, 2012 @ 11:26 p.m.

Sorry wrong reference. The corrected reference would be at Lineamientos, Tramite 5: Visa de Residencia Temporal: Requisito IV: Section d, Item 1, iii. and Item 2, iii.


This adds an additional 100 days minimum wage for the spouse of a couple seeking a temporary or permanent visa. This would make the monthly income requirement of a couple seeking a temporary resident visa in Mexico 500 days, or $2,365 per month and the income requirement for a permanent resident visa would be 600 days, or $2,835 per month.

This still puts a visa far out of reach of most people living on Social Security.


mymexicopella Jan. 21, 2013 @ 7:10 a.m.

just an FYI...I paid $1900 to import a 2001 Ford Escape two years ago. I can't imagine what a 2010-2012 Toyota Rav 4, Camry, etc...will cost our retired friends.


rickgreen Feb. 14, 2013 @ 11:04 a.m.

I would like to see a comparison between the temporary vs permanent resident requirements and the benefits of each. My wife and I have 2 years on a FM2. We just purchased a 1012 Ford Focus and paid US taxes on it. We have a 1984 VW Camper that we intend to sell in the US. A fee on the Ford focus should be about $3000 for Mexican plates. That is double taxation! We should be able to avoid this for several years by going temporary.


RabbiSteve Feb. 15, 2013 @ 8:35 a.m.

It is truly confusing to those of us who are new. We began the process in Miami, the closest Consul office to our home. We applied for FM3 status, wanting to give Mexico a try for a year. This was in December. We were told no more FM3 but continue the application process. We were given a 180 day visa (residente permanente) pasted into our Passport and told we had 30 days after entering Mexico to continue the process in a local INM office. We found out from a friend that once you begin the process in Mexico, you may not leave until it is completed. (Not true, I needed and got special permission to leave for 3 days) We arrived in Mexico on December 24, 2012 and began the process at the INM office in Playa del Carmen in early January. We had no idea what we were going to get, one year, 4 year, ???. We paid a fee of approximately $375.00 USD. Yesterday we recieved our cards at the INM office in Playa (they came in from Mexico City). The are, in fact, Permanent Resident with no expiration. Great and horrible. The challenge is our USA registered car. We paid the $400 USD fee when it arrived by barge and got a temporary permit decal. Now what ? Must the car leave after 180 days? Another blog from PV says it must be naturalized but can't be if it is financed or less than 6 years old. Any input would be appreciated !


sandybeaches March 7, 2013 @ 4:34 p.m.

The vehicle issue affects thousands of people who brought cars with them. Many are older people who are now faced with the long road trip in unsafe regions to remove the cars they legally brought to Mexico. Any vehicle that is not included in the NAFTA agreement cannot be nationalized and must be driven out of the country. The cost to nationalize those that qualify is very expensive and a burden to people living on social security income.

New immigration laws went into effect in Nov. but customs did nothing to consider the thousands of vehicles and all the retired immigrants affected.

Although many parts of the new immigration law are positive, this vehicle issue is creating havoc among law-abiding immigrants. It really is a complex problem with no solution yet. Many older people are afraid their vehicles will be confiscated by police.


pablodog March 8, 2013 @ 4:23 p.m.

This seems to be a deliberate and misleading scare article, (perhaps no drug dealers were shot this week). For example if one owns a home in Mexico the required monthly income drops 50% & most gringos own their own home here, as for the car situation it needs to be noted that anyone who brought their vehicle into mexico legally under the original fm3 rule can not be told to register or remove said vehicle, once something is legal apparently they cant pass a new law making it illegal. There are lots of scary stories going around & obviously a few will suffer but our immigration lawyer here in the yucatan has assured us this will make everything easier for the majority as the government actually wants to encourage us to live here, though perhaps the US government is worried about all of these retirement dollars being spent abroad.


Chuck Levitin March 12, 2013 @ 10:46 p.m.

Pablodog must be a real estate agent in Mexico. The rules stated in the article are being applied to new immigrants coming to Mexico. Those who had already immigrated under the old law are being allowed to roll into the new visas without showing additional income. Most people moving to Mexico for the first time do not already have a house in Mexico. The bottom line is that Mexico has raised the bar for American or Canadians seeking to retire in Mexico on either a temporary or permanent visa.

And Pablo, if you are a foreigner currently living in Mexico and it comes time to sell your Mexican house and move back North, who are you going to sell it to? The people who can financially qualify for a Mexican visa under the new terms will have enough money to stay where they are.


tristandor Aug. 11, 2013 @ 7:02 a.m.

Maybe people immigrating to Mexico should try assimilating.....you live in Mexico,why don't you try buying Mexican? I've lived in Mexico 12 years and have purchased 5 cars, here, and I'm not a man of means, by any means, but, when I decided to live here, i decided to REALLY live here.


ronjmb July 30, 2015 @ 11:43 a.m.

Can anyone recommend a good attorney in San Diego or Tijuana to assist me with Residente Temporal and Mexican real estate law?


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