I have toyed around with the idea of obtaining a residency in Mexico for some time. A couple of months ago I finally decided to apply for a residency visa in Mexico. I like the country, I enjoy the language and culture. And I am not sure I’ll always want to be a resident of the US.
I have done the whole residency thing for Spain. It was fairly straightforward but nothing easy about it. For the uninitiated, anything involving government bureaucracy will make your hairs stand up.
I applied for the Mexican residency visa and actually got denied – but it was a technicality. I’ll apply again and will keep you guys posted.
Mexican Residency Visa
Read up on the various visa options yourself if you’re interested. When it comes to a long-term residency status the options which are most accessible are the temporary visa (temporal visa) and permanent residency visa in Mexico.
It’s technically just a residency card you’re applying for but it’s a visa as well that allows you to live in Mexico for more than the 180-day limit normally granted.
Each consulate in the US will have slightly different criteria. The Portland consulate, for example, requires you to have $35k in the bank for a temporal visa and $142k for a permanent visa. These numbers will change year to year, of course.
Alternatively, if you show that you have a monthly income or pension of $2,100 you would also qualify for the temporal visa in Mexico. And with $3,500 per month, you could qualify for a permanent visa.
Permanent vs. Temporal Residency Visa
As to which residency visa to choose, it depends on what you qualify for. The Los Angeles consulate won’t let you apply for a permanent visa if you’re not over the age 60 and you must show a pension.
Most consulates likely won’t let you apply nor qualify you for a permanent residency visa unless you are over age 60. You can petition for an exception, of course.
The temporary residency visa is good for 1 year and you’ll have to go back to Mexico to renew it. The time in-between, however, you can be outside of Mexico since they don’t have a physical presence requirement for renewal – yet.
Fees & Documents
It’s only $44 right now to apply for such a visa so to me that’s negligible.
As for documents, I already had bank statements which I printed out and the 2-page online application which is fairly straightforward and it’s in English.
You need a copy of your passport and a recent passport photo. My consulate asked me to have copies of my bank statements for the past 12 months. And they couldn’t be the online statements you print out. So, I called up my bank and had them send me copies on their letterhead. Easy.
Using a Lawyer
I actually hired a lawyer for this. Someone to guide me through the process even though it’s really straightfrorward.
The US part of this – which is the interview at the consulate and showing the documents – that’s easy. But the part you have to do in Mexico is a little more involved and that’s why I hired the lawyer.
Well, unfortunately things didn’t go as planned.
My Visa Interview
I am living in Los Angeles and work at an urgent care in LA and I pay rent for a short-term rental here. I have a library card here. But I get all my documents sent to a WA address which is a virtual mailbox.
I emailed the LA consulate and they requested proof that I’m living in LA so I sent them my library card and my work information, etc. Great. They gave me an appointment about 1 month out.
I showed up to the appointment with all my bank documents and application all completed. Unfortunately, because my documents had a WA address on them the consulate officer said I couldn’t qualify to apply in LA.
The Interview Questions
Despite meeting the financial criteria and everything else she rejected me right away. It’s not just that, the questions the officer asked were interesting.
She started by asking if I wanted to speak Spanish or English – English for me. Then she asked why I wanted to live in Mexico – to learn the language, culture, and travel there. She didn’t like this answer so she asked “But why?”.
She was puzzled because she said if I don’t have a job there and don’t have a house there it doesn’t make sense for me to apply for a temporary visa. I told her I wanted to be there for more than 180 days. She was quite reluctant and made various faces and was genuinely confused by this.
I get it. Even the people at the consulate probably view Mexico as a not-so-desirable country. Why would any wealthy American want to spend time there? This is in stark contrast to the residency visa I applied for in Spain where it’s understood that most people would love to live and travel through Spain.
I’m still interested in having this residency visa. I can see myself living in Mexico. It’s not only a hidden gem of a country but I think it has a lot of potential over the next decade.
I am now reaching out to the Portland consulate and going to do my research before going there. If they will accept my application there I’ll buy a ticket and go for the interview.
You really need a good lawyer for stuff like this or you’ll waste your money and your time. I can’t say my lawyer was bad but he certainly didn’t forsee this problem which cost me money and time. Mostly time.
Mexico is as safe as any other country I would consider living in.
It has an affordable cost of living and there are more opportunities there for me right now.
I can work remotely there. But it’s also possible for me to get a medical license and practice medicine in Mexico.
Over the next few years, it will likely get harder to obtain a residency visa in Mexico. It’s an opportunity I have now.