NEWS

Changes to Time Allowed in Mexico Using a Visitor Permit


People who come to Mexico for leisure or business visits lasting 180 days or less, and who are passport holders of one of the many countries which don’t require a visa to enter Mexico can complete a Visitors permit, known as Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM, at the port of entry.  You can learn more about the FMM here.

The 180-day maximum is no longer the default

Under Mexico’s immigration rules, the maximum time you are allowed to stay in Mexico under the auspice of a visitor permit (FMM) is 180 calendar days.

The number of days granted has always been at the discretion of the immigration official at the port of entry and until now, most (but not all) visitors arriving in Mexico for leisure and business trips tended to be issued with visitor permits granting the full 180-day allowance.

We’ve heard that the practice of granting most visitors 180 days by default is changing and visitors will now be granted a number of days commensurate with the intention of their visit.

What this change means for visitors to Mexico

If you are visiting Mexico under the auspice of a visitor permit this change to the way visitors are admitted might or might not affect you.  If you intend to stay longer than a couple of weeks, then you should explain this to the immigration official who will ask about your intentions and may ask to see evidence in support of your plans; for example, accommodation arrangements and return flights.

Leisure tourists and short-term business visitors

If you arrive in Mexico for a short vacation or a short business trip, you’re unlikely to be affected by this change.  Be sure to communicate your plans to the immigration official so that they provide you with sufficient days for your visit.

Longer-term visits

If you intend to stay in Mexico for more than a couple of weeks, or are accustomed to using Mexico’s visitor permit for longer-term visits —for example, if you spend winters in Mexico or own a home here and live part-time as a visitor— and you automatically expect to be granted 180 days because that has been the norm to now, you should talk to the immigration official at the port of entry and explain your plans and intentions before they write the number of days on your permit, and ask for the days you need to suit your plans (it cannot exceed 180 days).

‘Perpetual visitors’

This change is likely to impact ‘perpetual visitors’ as they may not be granted 180 days by default.  As we have remarked in the article about the FMM, some people have been using the flexibility of the Visitor permit to continually return to Mexico to remain here longer-term.  We also remarked that immigration officials have been checking the arrival records of people coming to Mexico for some while now and questioning the intentions of those who continually return—and we’ve thus been recommending that you consider applying for legal residency if you intend to be in Mexico for longer.

Visitor permits cannot be extended or renewed

The number of days written on your visitor permit (FMM) by the immigration official at the port of entry is the maximum time you are allowed to stay in Mexico, even if that is less than 180 days.  You might be able to exchange your visitor permit for a residency permit in certain situations.

  • You cannot have the number of days extended, and you cannot renew this permit.
  • If you are in Mexico and wish to apply for legal residency, you must leave Mexico to begin the application, except:
  • if you have certain family connections in Mexico you may apply to exchange your visitor permit for a residency permit in-country; or;
  • under a special procedure announced by the INM some people with expired visitor permits may exchange these for residency permits in-country without having to leave Mexico; or
  • the visitor permit may also be exchanged in-country for humanitarian reasons, but the circumstances must be exceptional and the procedure is at the discretion of the immigration office.
  • You must otherwise leave Mexico before the permit expires.

Caution about Tampering with your FMM form

We’ve seen stories on Social Media that suggest some people might be manually altering the number of days written on the form.  The form has a unique serial number printed on it that correlates to an electronic record of your entry to Mexico.  The number of days you are granted is stored on that record and the INM will not take kindly to anyone tampering with the form by altering the number of days written on it by the immigration official.

If you received a stamp in your passport, your passport number will be associated with the number of days granted.

Mexico is phasing out paper versions of the FMM

The paper versions of the FMM are being gradually phased out and replaced with a stamp in your passport.

Read this article for further details.

Visitor permit time allowance changes: summary

Here are the key points to note about the changes:

  • Mexico’s visitor permit (FMM) allows visitors to remain in Mexico for a maximum of 180 days but the number of days granted has always been at the discretion of the immigration official at the port of entry
  • Visitors may no longer be granted 180 days’ stay in Mexico by default; instead visitors are granted a number of days commensurate with their intentions and immigration officials may ask for supporting evidence of those intentions.
  • The decision about how many days are granted remains at the discretion of the immigration official at the port of entry and the number of days granted (written) on the permit is the maximum time you are allowed to stay in Mexico: it will never exceed 180 days, but it may be less than 180 days.
  • Visitor permits (FMM) cannot be extended or renewed; they may be exchanged in-country in a limited number of special circumstances as described above.
  • You must leave Mexico before your visitor permit expires.
  • If you intend to be in Mexico longer-term, or you come to Mexico for a few months each year and want to facilitate your entry and exit with the least amount of friction, we recommend you apply for residency in Mexico by applying at a consulate abroad, or through the special procedure, if you qualify.
  • If you are already in Mexico and have concerns or questions about an existing visitor permit, you should contact your local INM office for advice and guidance.

Learn more about Mexico visas and immigration

Mexperience publishes extensive information about visas and immigration to Mexico, including:

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