Regulations to the Mexican Immigration Law

January 10, 2013
Regulations to the Mexican Immigration Law

On September 8, 2012, Regulations to the Mexican Immigration Law (the "Regulations") were published in the Official Journal of the Federation and came into effect on November 9, 2012, giving full effect to the Immigration Law (the "Law") published on May 25, 2011. The Law and its Regulations define the "Immigration Status" of foreigners in the Mexican territory. The Law and Regulations classify Immigration Status as follows: (i) Visitor, to carry out paid or unpaid activities for up to one hundred eighty calendar days, including regional visitors and border visitors; (ii) Temporary Resident, allowing foreigners to reside in Mexico for up to four consecutive years; and (iii) Permanent Resident, allowing foreigners to reside in Mexico for an indefinite time. On November 9, 2012, the resident cards applicable to the status as a Temporary Resident and Permanent Resident came into effect, substituting the cards for Non-Immigrant with Activity for Profit and Immigrant, respectively; however, the existing cards for Non-Immigrant with Activity for Profit and Immigrant will remain in effect until their expiration. Given the new Law and Regulations, it will no longer be possible to change immigration status from Tourist or Business Visitor to the new Temporary Resident or Permanent Resident card at immigration offices in Mexico, except in the case of a Permanent Resident, by exception, if there is a family connection to Mexico. The new proceeding to request a Temporary or Permanent Resident card will occur through petition for entry from the National Immigration Institute. As a result, a foreigner intending to work and receive a salary in Mexico must obtain such authorization prior to entering the country. Once admission is granted, the foreigner must go the Mexican Consular Office of choice for an interview that will determine the issuance of the corresponding visa. Thereafter, the foreigner may enter Mexico with the multiple immigration form (FMM) provided by the airline or received at the port of entry, so that he or she may exchange the FMM for a Temporary or Permanent Resident Card, as applicable, through the National Immigration Institute, within 30 calendar days. Failure to do so will result in the individual being considered an illegal alien in Mexico. The same procedure will apply for family members accompanying the foreigner and their petition can be carried out concurrently or separately, but within the corresponding 30 day period.. Another point worth noting is that Mexican employers must register with the National Immigration Institute for control purposes . Another interesting point is that previously the Permanent Resident (previously known as the immigrant with FM2) status had restrictions in relation to such individual's temporary residence outside of Mexico, which have changed with the new Law and Regulations; consequently, the holder of a Permanent Resident card can enter and exit the country multiple times. On the other hand, a new "point system" is created to serve as an additional criteria element for decisions relating to foreigners wishing to obtain permanent residence in Mexico and who cannot comply with the normal requirements (e.g. relationship to a Mexican, four years of temporary residence, among others). Similarly, it must be noted that the holder of a Resident card has the obligation to notify the National Immigration Institute of a change in marital status, nationality, domicile and place of work, among others. Foreigners are advised to seek advice prior to traveling to Mexico in order to determine the type of immigration document required in their respective case.

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