March 2015

This summary is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered an authoritative guide on how to obtain work authorization in Mexico. The intent is to give the reader a general overview of the process only. Procedures and requirements may have changed since the writing of this article. For current and detailed information regarding the topics below, as well as documentary requirements, processing times, post-arrival and departure requirements, penalties for non-compliance, allowances for accompanying family members, and any other information pertaining to your specific needs, please contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration professional.

Overview

BUSINESS VISITOR

Permitted Activities – Business visitors must generally limit their activities to the following:

• Attending business meetings or discussions;
• Making sales calls to potential clients provided that the visitor represents a commercial entity outside of Mexico;
• Attending conferences, seminars or “fact-finding” meetings;
• Short-term technical duties (e.g., installation/implementation of machinery);
• After-sales services.

Type of Business Visas – Many foreign nationals do not require an entry visa to enter Mexico and may apply for an “FMM” entry card at the Mexican port of entry for the purposes of business, tourism or transit. This applies to nationals from countries such as Canada, countries in the European and European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland and the United States. FMM privileges are also extended to the following persons having valid status in their country of residence: any national holding a valid US visa; any national holding valid Permanent Residence status in Canada, Japan, UK, US or any Schengen-member country.

For those nationals who do not qualify for FMM entry, in most cases, application for a “Visa Consular” should be lodged in person with the Mexican consular post closest to the applicant’s place of legal residence. Traditional business visitors usually require a visa as a Visitante sin permiso para realizar actividades remuneradas (Visitor Not Authorized to Conduct Lucrative Activities); visitors on this status need to remain on home company payroll and are not allowed to carry out working activities.

Basic Requirements

1. Intention of a genuine visit for business and not paid from a Mexican source;
2. Passport valid for at least six months;
3. Evidence that there are no restrictions on his or her traveling to Mexico;
4. No intention to permanently reside in Mexico;
5. A ticket for onward travel from Mexico;
6. Proof of funds.

Estimated Processing Times – This varies by diplomatic post and country.

Maximum Time On Visa – Validity of the visa to be issued is at the discretion of the Consular officer in charge, with a maximum duration of 180 days. This visa allows business people to make a short business visit to Mexico for up to 180 days during the visa validity period.

Typical Documents Required – All travelers need to present the following documents to officers in immigration clearance:

• a valid Canadian or U.S. passport or other authorized travel document;
• for non-Canadian/U.S. foreign nationals entering as visa-exempt FMM holders, valid passports affixed with valid visas or permanent residence documentation from a qualified country of residence (listed above); or,
• a valid passport affixed with a visa or authority to enter Mexico. 

EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION

Basic Requirements – The principle immigration category for temporary employment in Mexico is the Temporary Residence Permit-“Lucrativo” (Paid in Mexico). This is a category for employers to sponsor qualified skilled workers to work as intra-company transferees in Mexico on a temporary basis.

Process Overview – All individuals, regardless of their nationality, who enter Mexico to work for less than 180 consecutive days require a Visa / Visitante Lucrativo (Visitante con permiso para realizar actividades remuneradas – Visitor Authorized to Conduct Lucrative Activities). This visa requires prior work authorization obtained through the INM*.

For assignments beyond 180 days a Temporary Residence Permit Card will be required in addition, resulting in the following process:

1. Work Permit Pre-Approval application filed at the Sub-Delegation INM having jurisdiction over the intended place of work;
2. Entry visa (“Visa Consular”) application filed at Mexican diplomatic post in country of residence;
3. Issuance of Forma Migratoria Multiple or “FMM” entry card at port of entry – this is the formal document permitting entry to Mexico;
4. Temporary Residence Permit card (Tarjeta de Residente Temporal) application at the local INM Office within 30 days of arrival in Mexico.

* This process overview assumes that the Mexican host company is already registered with the Federal INM (National Institute of Migration).

Please note that the Temporary Residence Card relates to the activities one intends to undertake while in Mexico. Under the terms of this status, an assignee is authorized to only undertake certain, specific activities which may be lucrative or non-lucrative, depending on the visa’s classification.

Estimated Processing Time – The work permit pre-approval generally takes three to four weeks, the post-arrival process around six to eight weeks; however, processing times vary widely by location.

Validity periods – Temporary Residence Permits are valid for one year and are renewable for one, two or three additional years, depending on duration of the employment contract.

Family Members – Dependents cannot work or study for a post-secondary degree without separate authorization.

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