May 3, 2010

Today is the first business day since Mexico’s new Visa Manual took effect on 1 May 2010.  The new Visa Manual sees significant changes to Mexico’s immigration processes which Pro-Link GLOBAL anticipates will take some time to implement fully.  At the time of writing this Global Brief, Mexican diplomatic posts in the U.S. and elsewhere were not yet uniformly applying the new regulations.  We expect some confusion and delay, until the new system is in place.

New Visa Manual – Main Points of Interest

  1. New form (Forma Migratoria Múltiple, or “FMM”), which has the following purposes:
    • To document short stays (under 180 days) in Mexico, including tourist trips, business trips and also some short term work assignments.The new Visa Manual states that, for non-restricted (“non-visa”) nationals, some short term work assignments (under 180 days) may be carried out on the FMM without further need for FM3 work authorization. This new rule would obviously have dramatic implications for many employers in Mexico. However, please note that Pro-Link GLOBAL is still reviewing the finer details of the regulations as well as consulting with the Mexican authorities to determine exactly how this will be applied.  In any event, if there is any possibility of the assignment lasting longer than 180 days, the FM3 should be applied for, as the FMM is strictly limited to 180 days only.
    • To document the arrival of visitors who intend to change status post arrival in Mexico to FM3 or FM2 holders.  In these situations, a visa must be obtained at the consulate prior to arrival.  Note that the final decision over whether to grant entry to the individual or not rests with the immigration officer at the port of entry.  In these cases, the FMM must also be obtained pre-arrival and then submitted at the port of entry.  Post arrival, the application for exchange of the FMM for FM3 or FM2 status must be filed within 30 days of arrival.
  2. New visas and new FM3s/FM2s
    • The paper booklet visas previously granted by Mexican Embassies and Consulates will be replaced with seal or sticker type visas, which will be affixed to the visa holder’s passport.  Alternatively, electronic or “virtual” visas may be issued.
    • The new FM3 and FM2 documents will be plastic cards containing photographs, valid for one year only.  Every year, a new card must be applied for.  The Mexican immigration authorities (INM) are planning to introduce a biometric component, and until this is ready, annual renewals even of FM2s are a requirement.
    • Holders of current FM3 and FM2 paper booklets will have these replaced on a gradual basis, when current documents expire.

SETRAM (Sistema Electrónico de Trámites Migratorios) – Electronic Migration System

Additionally, and also effective from 1 May 2010, Mexico’s immigration authorities have implemented a new electronic migration system.  In addition to making immigration applications available for download and completion online, the new system aims to standardize procedures across Mexico and creates a national database of migration information.  All entries to and exits from Mexico will be stored in servers that are accessible from all ports of entry and exit.  Immigration officers at all borders will have access to this information.

It is therefore obviously more important than ever before to remain in compliance with Mexican immigration law.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS 

  • All employees must obtain FMMs, either on arrival (if a non-visa national or a U.S. visa/green card holder, and arriving for less than 180 days), or prior to entry (if applying for a consular visa and according to the consulate’s instructions)
  • Note that short term assignments for non -visa nationals may now no longer require work authorization; however, Pro-Link GLOBAL is still reviewing the practical implementation of this new rule.  Contact us if you have short term assignments coming up for Mexico.
  • Take note of Mexico’s new SETRAM system and ensure that your employees in Mexico are compliant with immigration law.  Contact Pro-Link GLOBAL if you have concerns or would like to conduct an audit.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification.

Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG |KGNM Correspondent Office in India to provide this Global BRIEF alert to you.