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How Can I Live and Work in Mexico as a Tourist Visa Holder?

Many businesses across the world want to outsource some of the operations and labor to Mexico. Foreign entrepreneurs may also want to open new businesses in the North American country. They may opt for hiring local talents or employ foreign nationals with required expertise.  

However, it is to be noted that, under the Mexican immigration law, no foreign national can work in Mexico or start a new business without a valid visa.   

Visitors with a Mexico tourist visa cannot work and be compensated during their stay in Mexico. However, they can apply for a work visa after they have used the tourist visa.

Compliance with the immigration laws is a must, though the immigration authorities have substantial discretion in implementing the rules and regulations. Officers at the National Institute of Immigration oversee the process and have the authority to inspect and review the visa applications and validity.   

A foreign national can enter Mexico typically on a temporary basis and must hold one of the following visas:    

Tourist visa: Individuals with a tourist visa to Mexico can stay for up to 180 days. They cannot engage in paid employment and have to submit their proof of economic solvency. It is an original letter from the company that the applicant works for with their monthly pay slips and bank statements. Travelers from visa free countries do not need a visa for stays under 180 days.

The work visa. If foreign citizens want to engage in activities that earn them financial gains, they should apply for a work visa. They have to either submit a job offer letter from a Mexican employer or declare an intention to start a business in the country. Prior to this, their employers have to apply for a work permit.      

The student visa is for foreign students who plan to do their higher education in Mexican universities. There are two types of student visas – the Temporary Resident Student Visa is for foreign students planning to join courses that will take more than six months to complete and the Visitor Student Visa is for courses that can be completed within 180 days.   

The Mexico family visa. Foreigners who want to visit or stay with family members residing in Mexico can opt for this visa. The family member should be a legal resident of the country. 

Permanent resident visa.  Foreigners planning to live and work in Mexico permanently need this visa.   

How Long can I Stay in Mexico with a Tourist Visa  

Mexico Tourist Visas are issued exclusively for short-term visits related to tourism, business and cultural and sports events.   

The maximum number of days a tourist visa holder can stay in the country is 180. However, the visiting period is decided by the immigration officers at the entry point of Mexico and can vary from 30 to 180 days.   

The visitor who wishes to stay for six months would most likely be asked to present details of accommodation and return tickets. In case tourists want to stay longer than six months, they need to amend their visa.  

Can I Convert My MX Tourist Visa to a Work Visa in Mexico?  

A foreign national coming to Mexico on a tourist visa will not be allowed to work. A tourist visa is a visitor visa without the authorization to engage in activities that will earn a remuneration.  

There is no option to convert this visa and the visitor will have to leave the country after 180 days. Foreign tourists and business people typically fall into this category.   

Mexico Working Visitor Visa  

This is a visitor visa with the authorization for paid employment in Mexico. Foreigners who want to be temporarily employed in the country generally opt for this visa.   

They can stay in the country for up to 180 days. There is neither an option to convert this visa into a regular Mexican working visa nor anyone can extend it.   

This visa can be obtained through a consulate of Mexico and needs to get approved by the National Institute of Immigrations. In most cases, the visa will be issued within two to three days.   

The applicant should submit the following documents:    

  • An authorization letter from the INM
  • Visa application form
  • Valid passport
  • One passport size photo
  • Proof of finances like bank statements
  • Proof of education like degree certificates
  • Proof of employment like pay slips

Types of Work Visas in Mexico  

The National Institute of Immigration issues all types of work visas.  The type of work visa can vary. All foreigners who want to work in Mexico should apply for at least one kind of work visa. 

Those who are working for Mexican companies need a residency visa with a permission to work. Foreigners opting for a Mexico temporary resident visa will get a work permit along with it. They can work in the country for up to four years.  

Foreign nationals who apply for a permanent resident visa can live and work in Mexico as long as possible. Most employees will need a permanent visa as it will allow them to leave the country at any time without further visa processes.  

However, a foreign employee with a this visa needs to get official permission to leave the country. This may take up to seven days and the visa will be put on hold during his stay outside the country.   

Companies planning to send employees to Mexico for work should apply for a temporary visa with a work permit. Individuals cannot apply for the same.   

Steps to Get a Temporary Resident Visa with Work Permit   

  • The applicant needs a job offer to apply for a Mexican work visa.
  • This will prove that the foreign national will acquire a position in the company in Mexico. A company can offer 10% of its jobs to foreigners as per the Mexican law. This letter should have all the necessary information about the job offer like the designation and remuneration.
  • After this, the employer has to submit the application for a work permit in the National Institute of Immigration.
  • When the work permit is approved by the immigration, the employee needs to apply for visa with necessary documents in the Mexican consulate of their home country.
  • Once the documents are approved, the consulate will call for an interview to approve the visa.
  • The applicant will need to submit the necessary documents to the consulate when appearing for the interview. He/she will also take a mandatory medical examination before the date of the interview.
  • After this, the visa will be issued.
  • Once the employee lands in Mexico, the immigration official will stamp the time period they can stay in their passport depending on the visa – either temporary or permanent residency.

Who is a Temporary Resident in Mexico?   

Citizens of foreign countries and their family members who wish to stay in Mexico for more than six months will have to apply for a Mexico Temporary Resident Visa.   

This visa will help them extend their tourist visa legally and to stay in Mexico for more than six months.      

Initially the temporary visa is issued for a time space of 12 months. After this, they can renew the visa for two, three or four years. After five years of legal stay in Mexico, these applicants can be naturalized.      

Can a Temporary Visa Holder Work in Mexico?   

Foreigners who hold a Mexican temporary visa are regarded as temporary residents. They can leave and re-enter the country anytime like Mexican citizens. They are also eligible for paid employment in the country provided they get a work permit.

Foreigners who hold a Mexican temporary visa can get a CURP (Unique Population Registry) code using which they can legally purchase own vehicles. They will also be eligible for discounts generally granted to Mexican citizens in parks, cinemas and other popular tourist places.       

However, all temporary resident visa holders, who do not have a work permit, have to apply to the immigration institute to get a work permit through their employer.   

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