The migration office has its own place in hell. Open that bottle of red now to kickstart this conversation. Because nobody I know enjoys migration errands. Getting a work visa can truly discourage a person in their journey to live abroad. Legally moving to a new country is never easy, but it is possible…And while in Spain, I had the guidance of a paid agency to get my temporary residency taken care of the first year, I was on my own when I moved to Mexico.
Back in 2017 I was hired by a fairly big company in Mexico City that assured me they could get me a work visa. Once I began working for them under a tourist visa (which is not what I had intended or expected), it became clear there was really no interest on their part to do things legally. I had to push and nag the HR department until I got everything I needed from them to move forward with the migration process. The relationship came to a natural end, and I now work as an independent contractor.
Without further ado, here are the 10 steps I took to get my temporary residency in Mexico through a work visa application:
1. Get a job!
First, find a job in Mexico. Send in applications to companies you are interested in, do Skype interviews (or in person), and get hired! I found my job through www.indeed.com.mx – If you want to be a teacher in Mexico, consider setting up a profile on Teachers Latin America: http://www.teachers-latin-america.com/. They are an international school placement service, free for teachers looking to work in places like Mexico, Central America and Colombia.
2. Constancia de inscripción del empleador.
In other words, the company you work for needs to be registered in migration, also known as INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración). This is free, and it gives the company permission to hire international employees. If they are not registered, they should do this on the site: www.gob.mx/tramites/ Go to the “trabajo” section à “obligaciones patronales.
Here are the requirements the company will need:
- Acta constitutiva/instrumento público en el que se acredite la legal existencia de la persona moral. (Document that confirms the company is real and legal).
- Identificación oficial vigente del representante o apoderado legal (photo i.d. of legal representative – your boss or the owner of company is ideal).
- Comprobante de domicilio de la persona moral, cuya fecha de expedición no exceda de 30 dí (A utility bill that proves the legal representative’s address – no older than 30 days. Same as person above, which is the person representing the company through this process).
- Constancia de inscripción en el Registro Federal de Contribuyentes y constancia emitida por autoridad competente, sobre la presentación de la última declaración de impuestos. (A document called RFC and last tax declaration from the company).
- Lista de empleados y su nacionalidad. (A list of the company’s employees and their respective nationality).
Once this is complete, the company will get an email with an attached document titled: “Constancia de Inscripción del Empleador.” That document is proof that the company has been registered with migration. After that, the company can apply for a “Visa Por Oferta De Empleo” for you (a work visa). I recommend not even accepting a job offer until you know the company is registered with migration. For example, if you are a teacher, International Schools are generally efficient about welcoming expat teachers and taking care of their visa process almost effortlessly. This is ideal.
3. Request a work visa.
The request should be done by the company…Though you can also fill out the request online yourself. This comes in handy, so you make sure there are no mistakes on your personal information! A tiny error or misunderstanding can result in the negation of your visa. My visa was denied because nowhere in my American passport does it state that I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. It only says VENEZUELA. Moral of the story, your personal information has to appear EXACTLY as it does on your passport! No exceptions!
Fill this application on the following link:
When you print it out, make sure you only print it once!!! The prints come with a barcode. I made the mistake of printing it twice and the pages got mixed. I turned in a form that had different bar codes and wasted a day at the migration office. I had to go home and do it again. That is my sob story.
4. Representative of your company goes to immigration.
Next, your company’s representative shows up to the migration office, takes a number, and waits in line to put in the application through. Here is what he/she should bring (though these documents are always subject to change):
- Constancia de incripción del empleador (that first document that proofs the company is registered to hire expats).
- Company representative’s i.d. (original and copy).
- Copy of your passport (person that the company is intending to hire).
- Job offer letter with company header/logo that includes your full name (I would include passport number, too), the position you are being hired for, amount of time you will be required to be in the country for (migration only gives out the visa for one year at a time), place of work (name of company and address), and your salary.
- Formato para solicitar ante el Instituto autorización de visa. (This is the form that was filled out online and printed out. It must be signed by the company’s representative).
This is the company’s role to play, not yours! My company sent me to do this, and the migration officer asked me, “What are you doing here?” I was in Mexico on a tourist visa. My presence in Mexico was legal, but my working in the country was not. Obviously, the migration office did not know I was working there. But it was a very uncomfortable and inappropriate situation for me. At this point of the process, I was supposed to be peacefully waiting in my country until the work visa got approved. Sadly, my company refused to see my legal paperwork as their responsibility. The owner said, “It is your visa; it is your life.” I am only telling you this story so that you are aware and careful. If the company is making you do this part of the process, either use them as a means to an end (to get a work visa) or quit and find something better. As you are getting your work visa, it is easy to simply change the name of the company you work for. But hopefully you will get a company that will take care of you from the start.
By the way, ALWAYS BRING COPIES OF EVERYTHING. Here is a link of the migration site that lists requirements for the work visa application I just went through with you: https://www.gob.mx/tramites/ficha/visa-por-oferta-de-empleo/INM73
5. Go to a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico!
Once the company has put in the request, you will be able to check your visa status online. They will give you a number and password. You and your company can track the process. There will often be “oficios,” or as I call them: bumps on the road. This means that maybe a document is missing and needs to be brought to the migration office. The company will usually have 10 days complete an “oficio.” In my case, they asked us to bring a new job offer letter. Why they asked this, we will never know. After a few steps, you will get an “oficio” asking YOU, the new employee, to make an appointment at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico. This is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY from this point on. In my case, I made an appointment at the Mexican Consulate in Miami. Not only because my home is in Florida, United States. But also, because I heard that the Miami and the Los Angeles consulates will give out your visa that same day! In some other places you may have to wait a week. Here is the website for the Mexican Consulate in Miami: https://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/miami/index.php/consular-services/visas
I followed the steps listed on their site to make an appointment. You e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Full name
- Your e-mail and phone number
- Attached document that the migration office e-mailed you, asking you to make the appointment at the consulate for your work visa.
- Three possible dates you are available for your appointment (over 72 hours).
I submitted my email around 10 am, and they replied within minutes with an appointment time and date. In the email, they will give you great detail of the documents you need to bring. Among the documents they require, make sure you bring a print-out of the email they sent you confirming the appointment. I also had to bring 36 USD (in cash) and passport pictures. They will also take your picture that day, so look nice!
On this day, they will ask you a few questions to make sure you are legitimately going to work at this company. They asked me where I was going to work, how much I was going to make, and where I planned on living. If by any chance, you are fully paying for your own visa (which you should not be!), do not ever mention it to migration. It just looks and sounds less legitimate. After all, the company wants you as much as you want them. Companies should either pay for half of your visa or pay fully.
6. MOVE TO MEXICO! WOOHOO!
Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen! You’ve got a visa in your passport that confirms you are legally moving to this country with a job in place! When you enter the country, you will get a 30-day FMM (which is a little, green, white and red, flashcard-style paper that has your information). You have to go to the migration office to exchange that little card for a proper i.d. card. You only have 30 natural days to do this!!! I suggest you go to migration the day after you arrive to Mexico, if possible. While you should always hope for the best, you should also give yourself plenty of time for things to go wrong…and plenty of time to fix them.
7. Go to the migration office in Mexico.
Things you need to bring:
- Passport (original and copy of picture page, page with the barcode, and page that shows your Mexican visa).
- Forma Migratoria Múltiple (better known as FMM – the flashcard paper they give you at the airport when you arrive to the country).
- Formato para solicitar trámite migratorio de estancia. (This form, filled out online, printed and signed: https://www.inm.gob.mx/tramites/publico/estancia.html ) At the bottom of this form, write down a list of all the documents you are dropping off at migration office – in pen).
- Comprobante de pago de derechos productos o aprovechamientos. (Fill out this form, print it, take it to any bank and pay them in cash: https://www.inm.gob.mx/gobmx/derechos/ – In this case, you are trying to get the “expedición de documento migratorio, residente temporal, hasta un año” which costs $3,961 MXN. Once you pay the bank, they give you a receipt. Guard it with your life! Make copies! Take pictures! Take the original to the migration office).
- When you go to the migration office, go to the “information desk.” Tell them what you are there to do so they can direct you to the proper window/desk. They should also give you a form where you put in your name and e-mail address. This gives them permission to contact you with the next step.
- If you have a “comprobante de domicilio” bring it. Any bill that has the address where you are living and that is not older than 30 days is always helpful. They might or might not ask for it. It doesn’t hurt bringing it with you every time you go to the migration office.
Now you make a really long line (I was there 5 hours). Bring a book because cell phones/electronics are NOT ALLOWED. Do not drink too much water that day so you do not have to go to the bathroom, and eat a GOOD, hearty breakfast.
Once you have turned in all the documents, and you go home after a long day in line, serve yourself a glass of wine and whip up some guacamole. You should hear back from the migration office that same week about your fingerprint appointment.
Once you get an email from the migration office for another “oficio,” open the document and make sure that next to “Asunto” it says “RESOLUCIÓN FAVORABLE.” This means that you have been 100% approved and are ready to get your FM (the little green card all this hard work was for). Print out this form. When you go on the link to print it out (you will access this via the email they send you), make sure you fill out your personal information and click “GUARDAR” (which means “SAVE”). I went to my fingerprint appointment without doing this, and had to leave the migration office, get it done, and run back in just a minute before they closed. That’s right. Lucky duck, I was.
Things to bring with you to the fingerprint appointment:
- Any paper/document that you were given in the previous appointment.
- The print-out letter they just e-mailed you that says “RESOLUCIÓN FAVORABLE.”
- 3 pictures called “infantil.” DO NOT take your passport pictures from the U.S. Official pictures in Mexico are smaller (2.5×3 cm). There are usually places to take them near the migration office. You need two front pics, and one of your right profile. Your ears need to be visible so pull your hair back. Do not wear jewelry and do not smile. Yes, it is basically a tiny mug shot.
- Your passport (and copies…always copies)
10. Get your temporary residency card and be free!
The time is now. Once you are done with your fingerprints, they will either make you wait an hour or two and give you your card…OR as it was my case, ask you to return the next day to pick it up.
Things to bring:
- Passport (again, and always).
- Any paper/document they give you at your fingerprint appointment.
YOU DID IT! Now you get to celebrate! You deserve every ounce of pride for leading yourself on through this process. If your situation is anything like mine, and your boss is unwilling to take the lead in your working legally in this country, I suggest you grab that pretty, little green card and chase bigger and better opportunities. You are now legal to live and work ANYWHERE in Mexico! The country is your oyster, my friend, and there are plenty of margaritas at the beach…or fish in the sea. Bless your perseverance.