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New Immigration Law for Mexico & How They Affect Expats
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June 21, 2011


Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - The web is abuzz with sketchy information about the new Ley de Migración. President Calderon signed it into law on May 24, 2011, along with several official blurbs published in the Mexican Government’s Diario Official.

The main focus of the new Ley de Migración is clearly directed towards improving protections and documenting protections and rules targeted to migrants from Belize, Guatamala, Honduras, etc as they traverse Mexico.

This post is just a preliminary report on the aspects that affect expats, because even though the Ley de Migracion was published May 30, the associated regulations with specific requirements (El Reglamento) for the new Immigration law have not yet been published. This means that INM has no procedures in place yet for how to apply the new law, nor do they have instructions for issuing the new "Tarjeta de Residencia" cards.

The new law has bundles of changes affecting ex-pats that dwarf last May’s changes.
Ley de Migracion para Mexico (in Spanish)

For starters, here’s a partial list of some of the new interesting twists:

No more FM2's or FM3's, no more stand-alone Non-Inmigrante & Inmigrante categories, and there’s a tweaked Inmigrado category. Tourists and other Visitors descriptions have not changed much.

Instead of the old "Inmigrante" & "No Inmigrante" (FM2's & FM3's), there are 4 new categories:

Visitante: 6 Types: Non-Working Visitors (tourist), Working Visitors, and Visitors for Adoptions, Humanitarian, etc. 180 day limit. See Chapter 2, Article 52, Items I – VI of the Law for descriptions of all 6 types.

Residente Temporal: Covers the old "No Inmigrante" (old FM3), 4 year limit per visa, Work Permit possible, Leave and Re-enter as many times as desired. This also seems to include the old "Inmigrante" FM2 "Rentistas". See Chapter 2, Article 52, Item VII

Residente Temporal Estudiante: Covers Student Studies, Research, Training, including working on university degrees. See Chapter 2, Article 52, Item VIII

Residente Permanente: Several types: Covers the old "Inmigrado" and a few special "No Inmigrantes" (the old FM3s for asylum seekers & refugees ), and it appears to cover working "Inmigrantes". It allows indefinite stays, no need to renew, and includes the right to work. See Chapter 2, Article 52, Item IX and Transitorios, Sexto, I – VI

Other Items Affecting Ex-Pats:

Permanent residency can be granted after just 4 years of Temporary Residency.

Permanent residency can also be granted after 2 years of marriage or common law relationship with Mexican citizen, (with such marriage also recognized by the Mexican Government by successfully registering a foreign marriage with your Registro Civil). Such Permanent Residency also depends on the applicant successfully completing 2 years of Temporary Residency (concurrent with the marriage). Article 55, Item II

Permanent residency can also be granted to concubines after 2 years of Mexican bliss (as a part of the 2 years of Temporary Residency). Article 55, Item III

Permanent residency can be awarded with less than 4 years of residency, if the applicant qualifies under the new Points System. Article 57

There will be new ID cards, called "Tarjeta de Residencia" (as "Temporal" or "Permanente"). Article 28, Item XXVIII

Mexico will also introduce a new Points System for permanent resident applicants who would like to be granted residency before the standard 4 year temporary residency requirements. The Points can be awarded based on level of education, work experience, skills in areas related to the development of science and technology, international surveys, and the skills to develop activities that are required by Mexico. Article 57, Item II.

Since it took nearly a month for local and regional INM offices to digest and implement the far-less-dramatic May 2010 changes, and some of last years immigration policy changes were not fully worked out until the following August, we suspect that it may take another 6 months before most of the dust settles on this round of changes. This would fit with the new law’s requirement that the INM issue implementing regulations within 180 days from the May 25, 2011 publication of the Law.

There have been no formal announcements yet of when the new changes will take effect, but in the meantime the Transitorios section (described below), should govern INM processing of new applications filed after May 25. All current applications and renewals filed before May 26 fall under the old rules, just like they did with applications and renewals filed before the May 2010 changes. All current Inmigrado and No Inmigrado visas (FM2's &FM3's) will remain valid until their expiration dates (see your "Vencimiento" on page 7 of FM2's - Fecha de Caucidad,) and people holding current FM2's and FM3's will only have to comply with the new rules when they apply for renewals under the new system.

In addition to the official Gob. de Mexico link supplied above, they also have a copy of the same new law at this website: New Ley de Migracion para Mexico in Spanish

We offer both links because El Gobierno de México regularly and abruptly shuts down some their new webpages.

The web version of the new law is 25 pages long, which means it will take some time for the legal beagles to sniff-out all the implications.

Additional information on how the new categories line up with parts of the old categories:

The Diario Oficial website has been updated and is up and running. The Transitorios section (listed after Article 162) govern the period between May 26 and whenever INM issues and implements the new regulations.

On the issue of "Permanente Residente" / old "Inmigrado", the new law’s Transitorio section reads: (After Article 162) "Transitorios, Sexto: VI. Los extranjeros que hayan obtenido la calidad migratoria de inmigrado, se equipararán al Residente permanente."

This translates to: "VI. Foreigners who have obtained the immigration status of inmigrado, are deemed equivalent to Permanent Resident status."

Continuing on the issue of "Permanente Residente" / and some "No Inmigrantes" (some of the old FM3's), the new law reads: After Article 162: "Transitorios, Sexto: IV. Los extranjeros que hayan obtenido la calidad migratoria de No inmigrante, dentro las características de asilado político y refugiado, se equipararán al Residente permanente;

This translates to: "IV. Foreigners who have obtained the immigration status of "No inmigrante" (old FM3), who meet the characteristics of political asylum and refugees, are deemed equivalent to Permanent Resident status."

Going to the issue of "Temporal Residente" / some "Inmigrantes" (some old FM2s, including "Rentista"), the new law reads: After Article 162: "Transitorios, Sexto: V. Los extranjeros que hayan obtenido la calidad migratoria de Inmigrante, dentro las características de rentista, inversionista, profesional, cargo de confianza, científico, técnico, familiar, artista y deportista o asimilados, se equipararán al Residente temporal,"

This translates to: "V. Foreigners who have obtained the immigration status of Inmigrante (old FM2), who meet the characteristics Rentista (financier), investor, professional position of trust, scientific, technical, family, artist, sports athlete or similar, be equated to Temporary Resident status. Note that Inmigrante Rentista, Inmigrante Cientifico, etc have special legal meanings as, typically people who are not working, or are working as unpaid professionals."

These refined sub-categories and definitions make some sense, and offer some continuity with past categories and more definitions within the new law.

This article is meant as a public service announcement, not as legal advice, and this article will be updated as understandings and interpretations of the new law develop.