Mexico’s Online Application Improves Visa Process

A new online system Mexico is using now streamlines the visa process, cutting inefficiencies in the system and speeding up the application process. Expats seeking residency in Mexico …

A new online system Mexico is using now streamlines the visa process, cutting inefficiencies in the system and speeding up the application process. Expats seeking residency in Mexico now have a better tool for saving time and money. See the following article from International Living for more on this.

Last week I renewed my residence visa for Mexico, using the new electronic format Mexico launched in mid-2010. I filled out the online application one morning, gathered up my supporting documents, submitted everything to my local immigration office…and walked out with my new visa in hand in just one hour.

Folks, it doesn’t get much easier than that.

Admittedly, I have a few things in my favor. For one thing, the new system has been in place for half a year—enough time to work the kinks out of it. I was renewing an existing visa—not applying for a new type of visa, with new requirements.

Still, my case shows that Mexico remains one of the easiest places to get residency as a foreigner. And that, at its best, Mexico’s new high-tech system makes getting that residence visa even faster, more streamlined and more efficient than ever.

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For potential expats looking to get residency in Mexico—or for expats who haven’t yet renewed their existing visas—here are a few changes to keep in mind:

1.      Mexico is trying to move the residence-visa application process out of its consulates abroad and into its immigration offices within Mexico. So don’t bother going to your nearest Mexican consulate in your home country. Instead, figure out where you want to live in Mexico, then process your visa at the immigration office nearest that location. Since you can enter Mexico on a six-month tourist visa, you may have plenty of time to get settled before you even apply for residence.

2.      You must now use the online application form (at to obtain or renew a residence visa. The application form, as well as all the pages that explain the visa requirements, is in Spanish. If you don’t speak Spanish well, or if you’re applying for your first visa, you may want to hire a visa-processing service or lawyer to apply on your behalf. Many new expats do this. If you do speak Spanish, however (and have an immigration office with time to devote to your questions), you may be able to process your own application.

3.      Mexico takes your thumbprint and keeps it on file when you get/renew your visa. The new residence visa is a plasticized card about the size of a driver’s license—much smaller than the passport-style booklet Mexico issued before. The new card also allows for a color ID photo, rather than the black-and-white used previously.

Finally, don’t assume that every immigration office in Mexico can process visa applications as quickly as my local office did. First applications, changes in visa status—or simply living in a city with lots of expats who have visas to process—can mean longer wait times. Fortunately, Mexico has also implemented a visa tracking system…so you can track your visa’s progress every step of the way.

This article has been republished with permission from International Living.


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