On 9 November 2012 Mexican immigration laws changed. This has created confusion in the expat community, especially for those who own property and/or an automobile here and who have not become citizens. Anyone holding the former residency permits (known as FM2 and FM3) will have to convert to the new permit system at renewal time. This raises questions as well, for under the Mexican system, time accumulated under the FM2 went towards establishing permanent residency status and potential citizenship. People wonder whether time they have accumulated under the old system will apply to the new. Also, one’s use and registration (U.S.A., Canada, or Mexico) of an auto hinged on the type of residency permit one had, a number of people have been doubly concerned. In the past, each state could enforce regulations with discretion (many expats complain about this, but is it any different than for the U.S.A. citizen who goes from California to Alabama? I’m certain that there’s a difference in enforcement of various laws [how about voter registration] as well as different laws entirely – states’ rights, remember?).
Income Requirements Increase Significantly
One of the changes resulting from the new laws is that the amount of money one must have (either in income or possessions such as homes or retirement accounts) has increased significantly. The income requirement for the FM3 replacement, the Residencia Temporal (R.T.) has increased about 60 per cent, from approximately $1,200 USD to about $1,950 USD. As the average amount an estadounidense (expat from the U.S.A.) is reported to receive from U. S. social security is approximately $1,250, many expats from the U.S. are concerned about their future status in México. The R.T. allows one to live in México for up to four years (the permit is valid for one year and can be renewed three times: at the end of four years one has to get a new permit or get another type of permit). The R.T. or the Residencia Permanente (R.P.) permits allow one to ship one’s household goods to México via bonded common carriers.
A Visitante visa, which I hold and which all tourists who enter México must purchase, allows me to stay in México for 180 days. I must leave the country before the visa expires, but can return and obtain another. This is unlike countries that are part of the Schengen Agreement in Europe where more restrictive return rights exist.
Under the Visitante I cannot bring my household goods into México unless I were to transport them myself using my own vehicle and trailer (however, I own neither car nor trailer). Actually, there is a legal way around this restriction, but I won’t get into that. Professional and bonded movers require that you be in possession of either the new R.T. or the R.P. permits before using their services.
If I am not eligible for anything but the Visitante, then I cannot obtain an INAPAM card which enables a senior resident to obtain discounts on various goods and services. There are other benefits available to those who hold either residency permit. For example, I understand that almost all Mexican bank branches require prospective account holders to possess either a Residencia Temporal or Residencia Permanente.