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NEWS: Mexico's New Immigration Law - Explained

by Karri Moser, for the Baja Good Life Club

New immigration laws took effect May 25, 2011. The new laws are an effort by President Felipe Calderon to do all he can to protect the human rights of migrants. He believes the new laws will simplify the stay of foreigners in Mexico and allow for a more safe and orderly migration of those traveling through Mexico to work in the United States. The law really aims to decriminalize migration in the country and keep the conduct of the migration authorities in check with the implementation of the Center for Evaluation and Control of Trust. It will help to insure officials at the National Migration Institute meet the standards that are expected of them.

The President sees the new law as both “bold” and necessary after years of kidnapping, abuse and violence toward migrants traveling from countries such as Belize and Guatemala to the United States to work. President Calderon believes the new law and its emphasis on human rights protections will help to awaken the world to this problem. The law will also ensure officials act on the problem rather than accept or remain complacent to the plight of abused migrant workers, as was the practice of some officials and agencies in the past.

Even though the laws primary intent focuses on migrant workers, the new rules will affect American and Canadian residents of Baja when it comes to issuances of visas and permits. First of all, FM2’s or FM3’s will be a thing of the past, but not what they represent. For now, they are still valid as is. The FM2 and FM3 will be replaced with a green card. The procedures for extensions and renewals will remain the same, but special attention to deadlines should be paid. It is recommended an individual renew 30 days before expiration or sooner if possible. The FM2 (permanent residence status) can be extended for 5 years, renewed annually, if the person does not leave the country for more than 2 years of the time period. The FM3 (temporary residence status) can be renewed for 4 years with annual renewals also. While procedures are staying generally the same, one anticipated drawback to the green card replacement of the FM’s may involve additional documentation. The new green cards will not contain employment information or state the reason the holder is in Mexico. This may mean you will want to carry additional documents in addition to the green card in case you need to provide proof to immigration officials.

The new laws also simplify the current statutes. In the past, 34 separate statues fell under the “General Law of Population”. With the new laws, only four categories will now exist. The four categories are permanent resident, temporary resident, temporary resident student and visitor. The visitor category has several sub-categories. They include: visitor without permission, regional visitor, frontier visitor, humanitarian reasons, and purpose of adoption. The visitor visa means a person can stay in the country for 180 days. Then they can leave and return.

Another simplification will also save applicants a few dollars. When a person now changes employers but not the activity or essence of their job, there will be no fee for processing the paperwork. Another money saver includes real estate. For permanent residents, if they meet the current tax rules, they might apply for the benefit of not having to pay capital gain taxes when selling real estate.

Overall, the comprehensive new laws will clean up and simplify existing procedures and categories for those expatriates living and working in Mexico, along with putting Mexico in the spotlight as a country and government who takes human rights and the protection of those passing through their borders seriously.   

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