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MEXLAW > Immigration  > What is Your Immigration Status in Mexico?

What is Your Immigration Status in Mexico?

According to a recent immigration census taken by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics and the US State Department one million Americans are living in Mexico and many do not have legal status.

The census also reveals an increase since 2015 of 37.8% Americans overstaying their tourist permits, stating there were 673, 866 Americans living illegally in Mexico in 2015, and estimating the current numbers are at least 934,698.

The majority of Americans residing in Mexico are retired and simply come on a tourist permit of 180-days, decide to stay but do not apply for their residency. It is easy for Americans to come and go as they are not required to apply for a visitors visa. So far the penalties of overstaying your tourist permit have not been harsh, only small fines as you leave the country, but given the current situation in the US, some fear that Mexico may react and begin to enforce their illegal immigration laws.

Of course, it is safe to say there are also many people from all over the world living in Mexico without the proper documents, not just Americans.

Considering it is an easy process to apply for Residency and holding it provides you with peace of mind while traveling in and out of the country, or encountering a random immigration checkpoint we recommend visitors wanting to live in Mexico apply for a Residence Visa.


Temporary residence is for foreigners who wish to stay in the country for more than 180 days and up to four years. The first temporary resident card will be issued for one year. After the first year, you may apply for one, two or three-year renewal of the temporary resident card. If you wish to work, you need to apply for Permission to work visa.

A Few Benefits of a Temporary Residency Visa

  • Temporary Resident receives a registration number called a CURP (Clave Única de Registro de Población).
  • CURP holders are permitted to open Mexican bank accounts and legally register an automobile.
  • Avoid capital gains tax on the future sale of your Mexican home.
  • Avoid traveling out of Mexico every 180 days.
  • Businesses who offer local discounts require your Temporary Resident card.
  • Some private hospitals provide a discount to Residents.
  • Enter and leave Mexico as you wish.


Permanent Resident Visas are issued to foreign nationals who intend to live in Mexico for extended periods of time and for people who wish to gain Mexican Citizenship.

A Few Benefits of Permanent Residency

  • The right to work.
  • Also, provides a CURP (Clave Única de Registro de Población).
  • Apply for free Health Insurance in Mexico.
  • Permanent Residency offers the ease of a single application and a one-time application fee.
  • It allows unlimited entries and exits to and from Mexico.
  • Almost all the benefits/rights available to Mexican citizens, except the right to vote.
  • Permanent Residency is a stepping stone to becoming a naturalized citizen (Citizenship allows holders to buy real estate in a restricted zone without a fideicomiso (trust).

There are several types of visas, temporary resident (with or without a work permit), student, adoption purposes, permanent resident visas and residency through investment. For more information regarding the immigration process to Mexico contact vela.a@mexlaw.ca.