ABIL Lawyers


Mexico’s immigration regime changed on November 9, 2012, as a result of the enforcement of the new Migration Law, which superseded the General Population Law that had been in force for almost 40 years. The number of visa categories and subcategories that stem from each was significantly reduced to three categories: Visitor, Temporary Resident, and Permanent Resident. Noteworthy changes include the Mexican government’s elimination of the option to change status in country, unless it is requested for family reunification or humanitarian reasons. Foreign nationals must obtain temporary residence before entering Mexico if they intend to stay for more than 180 days. Additionally, Mexican companies must register with the INM before applying for temporary residence for a foreign national when they extend a job offer.

Old immigration documents, including the Non-Immigrant (FM3) and Immigrant (FM2), issued before the new immigration law was passed will be valid until their expiration. Holders of FM3 and FM2 documents will be treated under the new regulations as temporary residents.


Individuals may visit Mexico as Business Visitors provided their intended period of stay does not exceed 180 days. Mexico has several visa suppression agreements with other countries or has decided unilaterally to suppress the visa requirement for nationals from some other countries to allow visa-waivered entry into Mexico under Visitor status, which includes business and tourism purposes for 180 days.

Foreigners from countries that require a visa to enter Mexico as visitors must apply in person at the Mexican consular post where they reside. Some individuals may be exempt from the visa requirement if they have a valid U.S. visa or have permanent residence in Canada, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, or the Schengen countries.

Mexican law does not distinguish between business activities, and foreign nationals under such status are permitted to engage in all kinds of business activities.

Requirements for Business Visitors

Business Visitors may not receive compensation from sources within Mexico; however, incidental expenses such as hotel rooms, costs of travel, and meals may be paid by the host.

Requirements for regulated nationalities include:

  • Passport with at least 6 months’ validity
  • Passport-size photographs
  • Documentation verifying immigration status in country of residence (if not applying in country of citizenship)
  • Invitation letter from the Mexican entity
  • Documentation verifying the experience, professional or technical skills, or knowledge to perform the activities for which the foreigner is invited to Mexico
  • Demonstration of economic solvency (if the Mexican entity is not responsible for the travel expenses and states this on the letter)
  • Government immigration fee payment

Requirements for non-regulated nationalities include:

  • Passport with at least 6 months’ validity
  • Supporting documents that show the purpose of the trip (may be requested at the port of entry on a discretionary basis), such as:- Hotel reservation and return flight ticket;

    – Assignment letter (in Spanish) from the sending entity;

    – Copy of the contract that links the foreign entity with the Mexican entity, which justifies the purpose of the trip;

    – Invitation letter from the Mexican entity;

    – Any supporting documentation as requested by the immigration officer at the port of entry.

Allowable Activities

Business Visitors in Mexico may participate in all kinds of business activities.

Maximum Period of Stay

The maximum allowable stay for most business visa holders is 180 days, although Mexican immigration officials may determine a length of stay of shorter duration. The foreigner can legally remain in Mexico for the entire period of validity of the visa.

Extension of Stay

Extensions are possible in country only if the initial validity is for less than 180 days. The total cannot exceed 180 days.

Visa Process and Documents

Typically, the consular officers at the port of entry will not require other document than the passport for citizens from non-regulated countries. A Multiple Immigration Format (FMM) will be provided by the airline staff or at the port of entry into Mexico, and it is the foreigner’s responsibility to keep this document during his or her stay in Mexico and return it to Immigration upon exit.

Those who require a visa, referred to as “regulated nationalities” in this article, must submit the application for a business visitor visa to the Mexican consulate closest to the applicant’s place of residence. Once the consulate approves the application, the consulate will endorse a visitor’s visa on the foreigner’s passport that will allow him or her to enter Mexico. The FMM format will be provided under the same conditions as for the non-regulated nationalities.

Approximate Timeline

The consular filing takes from 1 to 10 business days.


Consular fees for a visa are approximately US $36.


Foreigners working in Mexico for more than 180 days require a temporary resident visa. Any Mexican company that extends a job offer to a foreign national must be registered before the INM to sponsor the visa and must update such registry once a year to be eligible to hire new foreign employees.

Once the company has been registered before the INM, advance authorization (known as an entry permit) must be submitted to the INM. Once approved, it will allow a foreign national to come in person to any Mexican consulate within the following 15 days to receive a visa endorsed in the passport. Thus, the applicant will be allowed to enter Mexico and obtain the local registration that concludes with issuance of the temporary resident card.

Employees paid on a foreign payroll are required to apply for a temporary residence visa directly with the Mexican consulate having jurisdiction over his or her place of residence before travel. Documentary requirements will depend on the term and nature of the assignment and typically will need to demonstrate an invitation from a Mexican entity. Once approved, a consular visa will be endorsed on the passport to follow the local registry process.

Maximum Period of Stay

The FM3 work visa is generally valid for an initial period of 1 year, with the possibility to extend its validity for 1, 2, or 3 additional years, provided that the total length of stay does not exceed 4 years in total.

Work Visa Process and Documents

Mexican Payroll

The process is divided into three main stages, in addition to the company registry process, as follows:

1. Entry permit

2. Consular interview

3. Local registry that concludes with the issuance of the temporary resident card


      • Entry Permit- Support and application letter

        – Official application format

        – Confirmation of the job title in Spanish

        – Passport

        – Company registry certificate

        – Legal representative’s ID

        – Copy of the passport

      • Consular interview- Original passport

        – Photos

        – Payment of official fees

      • Local registry- FMM format (provided upon entry into Mexico)

        – Passport

        – Photos

        – Payment of official fees

        – Application letter signed by the employee

        – Official application format

        – Personal information questionnaire, known as Basic Format

Foreign Payroll

The process is divided in two main stages as follows:

  • Consular interview
  • Local registry that concludes with issuance of the temporary resident cardDocuments:
  • Consular interview- Original passport

    – Original document from the employee that proves he or she is a legal resident in the country of application (if applicable)

    – Photos

    – Application form

    – Payment of official fees

    – Invitation letter

    – Recommendation letter

    – Additional documentation, as requested by the consulate

  • Local registry: the same documents listed above for the Mexican payroll process


Foreign nationals or employees who intend to stay in Mexico for more than 4 years must apply for permanent residence. An employee is eligible for permanent residence if he or she has resided in Mexico in temporary resident status (includes the years under FM3 or FM2 of the previous regime) for 4 years. New regulations will base eligibility on a points system, which has yet to be published. Additionally, a foreign national may be eligible for permanent residence if he or she is married to a foreigner with permanent resident or Mexican national status.

Sign Up for our Newsletters

Sign up for our Immigration Insider & Global Updates Newsletters

Select list(s) to subscribe to

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, 11 Dupont Circle, N.W., Washington, DC, 20036, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact