Saturday, February 06, 2010
If you're thinking of buying a property in Mexico, and spending part or all of the year there, then you need to read the report below from Mexico attorney, Ernesto Arrañaga Patrón.
Mexico does offer a tourist visa that allows you to stay in-country for up to six months--so you may not need a residency visa. If you do, there are a couple of visa options if you want to live in your new home year-round. Better yet, some of those options allow you to work in Mexico. Although Mexico does not have a formal retiree program on the level of Ecuador and Panama, you can get discounts on a range of products and services with certain residency visas.
Your property in Mexico can help you get residency. Owning a home here that you live in may halve the monthly income requirement you need to prove.
Another benefit with residency visas is that (for now) you can join the nationalized health insurance plan (IMSS). The top rate costs around $300 a year, based on current exchange rates. There are IMSS facilities nationwide. It's like having a medical security net--for a lot less than you'd pay back home.
If your goal is Mexican citizenship, that's possible with one of the residency visas.
Different immigration offices in Mexico interpret visa requirements in different ways. Some may ask for a higher or lower monthly income level than the quoted figure on government websites, for example. For that reason, you should consult a local attorney, or check with the local immigration office, to verify the requirements that apply to you.
TOURIST VISA (SHORT-TERM VISA)
- Short term visas are intended for visitors to Mexico on short term visits of 6 months or less
- For trips of longer than 6 months, an FM-3 visa should be considered
- FM-T visas are distributed by airlines and granted at ports of entry
FM-3: A LONG-TERM VISA
- Is a one-year permit to reside in Mexico (giving you temporary residency)
- The document must be renewed each year as long as you continue to reside in Mexico
- After your first year you can either upgrade to an FM-2 or simply request a new FM-3
- If your goal is to seek long-term residency in Mexico, or become a Mexican Citizen, you need an FM-2
- Unlike the FM-3, the FM-2 gives the holder permanent residency
- The document must be renewed each year as long as you continue to reside in Mexico. After your fifth year, you can apply for the Naturalization Process and get your Mexican Passport.
- After your fifth year of holding an FM-2 Visa, you can apply to obtain your certificate of naturalization
- You will be asked to undertake an exam, which you must pass, in order to acquire naturalization/citizenship. You will not need to surrender your national passport -- whether you remain a resident-alien or apply for citizenship.
The privileges of both an FM2 and FM3 are the same; however, there are a few differences that you should be aware of.
When you have an FM2, for example, you cannot leave Mexico for more than 18 months total in a 5-year period. There is no such rule with your FM3 papers; you can come and go as you please.
You will need to bring a printed version of your last three bank statements showing at least $1,000-1500 U.S. dollars (or equivalent) monthly balance for each month you stay in Mexico, depending on the type of visa you are applying for. The reasoning behind this is to verify that you can support yourself without working for the length of your stay. Owning a property in Mexico that you live in can cut that monthly balance in half for certain types of visa.
You will also need to provide an address where you will be living and proof of that address, such as a utility bill (phone or electric bill), or the deed to your property.
Your FM2 may help you avoid capital gains taxes when selling your property. Once you have purchased your home, your immigration papers must show the address of your property.
Always apply for your immigration papers early. It can take up to 2 weeks to receive your completed documents. Do not let your tourist visa papers expire prior to receiving your FM3 or FM2 Visa.
Ernesto Arrañaga Patrón (attorney)
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