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NEWS - The New Immigration System

The New Immigration System
by Lic. Jacques-Edouard Beaulne, LL.B.

Previously, anyone that wanted to enter Mexico, either as a tourist or for any other reason, had to fill out an FMT known as a tourist card. The maximum time one could be legally in Mexico was 180 days, but this maximum period was at the discretion of the immigration officer at point of entry. This document is no longer available, and the discriminatory factor has been removed by the new law.

The new system provides established time periods in Mexico of up to 180 days depending on the activity an individual will be doing while in Mexico. In the event that a person wishes to be in Mexico for a period of 180 days or less, he or she only has to acquire an FMM, fill it out indicating the reason for entering the country and present it to the immigration officer at the point of entry of Mexico. If entering via land, individuals can acquire this document at any Mexican Embassy or Consulate. If coming via air or sea,  individuals can acquire the FMM from the transporter. The cost of the FMM is included in the ticket, otherwise payment is due at time of issue at the bank. The new system permits lucrative and non-lucrative activities anywhere in Mexico without the need to have an FM-2 or FM-3. This being said, individuals must still remember that the law does not permit a foreigner to displace a national in a working place. In other words, a person can not come to Mexico and do work when there is a Mexican who can do the work. Also, for some permitted activities under an FMM, the time allowed is reduced, and at the end of the permitted time, the person must exit the country. Finally, and very importantly, the new system does not permit a child of a person holding an FM-2 or FM-3 to be able to stay in the country after the time has terminated.

When an individual wants to enter Mexico to establish a permanent or temporary residence, he or she must first request a Visa at any Mexican Embassy or Consulate; once holding the Visa they must obtain an FMM from any travel agency, air or sea transporter or at any point of entry in Mexico. The FMM will be valid for 30 days in which time, a request for either an FM-2 or an FM-3 will need to be made. At the end of the 30 days, if the individual is still in Mexico without having requested the change, he or she will be considered illegal in the country and sanctions will be applied. This being said, the law also indicates that anyone who is considered illegal could be legally admitted into Mexico under certain considerations.

Individuals may apply for Mexican visas directly, in person, or may hire a representative to do the paperwork and administration on their behalf. If coming to work or run a business, additional files for that business must be presented. The immigration documents are good for five years and must be renewed within 30 days from the expiry date. The person must be present to sign, present pictures, and provide fingerprints. In other words, individuals must be in Mexico when renewing, since the new form is an ID card.

Contrary to what you may have been told, FM-2s can be acquired at the time of entering Mexico for the first time if individuals can prove that they are immigrating permanently.

With fewer requirements, the new system is more liberal than the previous one, and it removes some of the discretionary powers the immigration officers once had. Hopefully, it will be more efficient and save everyone time and money.
About the Author:
Lic. Jacques-Edouard Beaulne, LL.B.
Lawyer in Mexico
CAN-AM-MEX Firma Juridica / Law Firm

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