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Immigration Policy for Mexico

Given the growing number of undocumented foreigners living in Mexico, many wonder what it is about the Latin American lifestyle that makes living in Mexico so largely untouched by the legalities of immigration. Today, the immigration policy in Mexico declares that both foreigners and nationals will receive equal treatment under the law. Undocumented immigration is a minor infraction punishable by fines up to one-hundred days’ worth of minimum wage. Since penalties are minimal and the oversight of documentation is slim, many foreigners feel that living in Mexico comes easily. Here, we explore more on Mexico's immigration policy as well as the many reasons why you might consider immigrating to Mexico. 

Reasons to Immigrate to Mexico 

1. Low-Cost of Living and Abundance of Natural Foods 

Immigrating to Mexico is becoming a very popular idea for people looking to stretch their income further than is possible within their home economies. Whether you are a digital nomad or retired, your fixed income can go a lot farther in a place like Mexico, where essential goods and homeownership are not struck with rising costs and taxes that are typically seen back home. In addition to the overall lower cost of living due to low property taxes and maintenance costs, healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, sell for cheaper as they grow abundantly in Mexico.

2. Great Climate Diversity 

Others looking to move to Mexico are intrigued by the diverse climate available throughout the country. Whether you want a year-round climate, a warmer beach-side feel, or a cool mountain oasis, there is an area in Mexico waiting for you. Even in the most desirable coastal regions, properties remain affordable, unlike in the United States. 

3. Affordable Healthcare Options 

Those displeased by their healthcare system also gravitate to Mexico for better healthcare options and affordability. Many unique healthcare insurance options in Mexico make finding care abroad more convenient than elsewhere. As populations age, the need for long-term care increases, causing many individuals and their families to seek care elsewhere to avoid astronomical costs.

How To Immigrate to Mexico 

To legally immigrate to Mexico and achieve a permanent resident visa, you must complete the following application process: 

  • You must plan to live in Mexico for an extended period (beyond six months)
  • You must have the intention to live permanently in Mexico
  • You must either have close relatives in Mexico, OR
  • apply for retirement with proof of consistent monthly income, OR
  • have obtained four years in a row as a Temporary Resident in Mexico, OR
  • have two years in a row as a Temporary Resident via marriage to either a Mexican National or a permanent resident, OR
  • have obtained a minimum Points System score, OR
  • have been deemed residency on humanitarian grounds, or as a result of political asylum.

This process is for those looking to obtain long-term residency or to eventually become a Mexican Citizen. There are other working and travel visa options for temporary living in Mexico which can be reviewed on the Mexperience resource website for more information. 

What It Means to Be an Immigrant in Mexico 

Being an immigrant in Mexico is defined the same way as being an immigrant is defined in another country. Immigrants are people who live in a country that is not their birth country. Whether the individual has obtained citizenship of the non-birth country, has married a native, or has served in the military, the individual is still considered an international migrant. Depending on your situation, your status can be as a citizen, a non-immigrant, an undocumented immigrant, or a resident.  

Refugees in Mexico 

Most refugees reside in Mexico's southern, central, and northern regions and within the urban settings. There are different ways that asylum seekers access territory in Mexico. Those coming from the North of Central America enter Mexico through the southern border and others, like Venezuelans, come through air. Mexico strongly supports the protection of asylum seekers and refugees and is one of seven nations involved in the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework, an initiative that began in 2017 for the global protection of refugees.  

Being a Resident in Mexico

In addition to the process mentioned above, to apply for permanent residency, you must have a valid passport as well as a Green Card or visa. You do not need to obtain temporary residence first to become a permanent resident. To avoid the need for temporary residency, however, you must meet specific criteria to qualify. There are financial and career-related status qualifications (such as being in retirement) in order to qualify. Additional factors that can gain you permanent residency include: 

  • Having a child born in Mexico
  • Having a permanent partner or parent that is a permanent resident
  • Entering retirement before your temporary residency has expired 

Being Undocumented in Mexico

Many foreigners choose to stay in Mexico so long as they do not surpass the six-month mark every time they come back to visit. Many feel that living as an undocumented immigrant in Mexico is more straightforward than living without documentation in the U.S. You can also revert to different visas when one is coming to an end to avoid issues. There are about one million Americans who live in Mexico, and many are undocumented. Last year, approximately 1,000 US citizens were faced with modest fines of up to $50 after being discovered to be either working or living in Mexico without proper documentation. Undocumented individuals who do not have their visas may be asked to leave the country. Anyone who overstays after being asked to leave is fined $400. Often, undocumented American immigrants are students and tourists who stay longer in Mexico without informing authorities. The Mexican government is not overly aware of the number of undocumented Americans' flowing in and out of the country. 

The Bottom Line

From the reduced cost of living to a relaxed culture, it's evident that Mexico is both an exciting place to travel to as well as the right kind of escape that many foreigners are looking to find.  

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