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If you do not already have an FM3, then at the first point of entry in Mexico do fill in the FMM tourist card. The FMM is the form that the airline gets you to fill out.

The application for an FM3 (or FM2 for those wanting to become immigrants) must now be completed online at: http://www.inm.gob.mx Some parts of their web site is in English but the online application can be tricky and is only in Spanish.

Immigration office in Cancun Mexico

Virtually all non-Mexicans need a Green Card (or FM3 as they are called) if you plan on working or retiring here. There are various other types of documents too but the FM3 is the most popular. Tourists staying for up to 6 months use a simple FMM and obviously don’t need the Green Card. You will get an FMM form on the plane.

Even in you plan on applying for an FM3 you must start with the FMM and convert it later into an FM3.


More information and the application form can be found at http://www.inm.gob.mx

There are several ways to apply for the FM3. The easiest is to prove that you have income of an absolute minimum of USD $1,050 per month if single or USD $1,550 if married (or the equivalent in another currency). These amounts are cut in half if you own an apartment or house here - and the amounts are subject to constant change. You will need to bring original copies of bank or brokerage statements showing deposits for the past 3 months and some other paperwork.

In May of 2010 the government started issuing plastic cards about the size of a credit card, instead of the old paper booklet. Seen below is an example of an FM2 (FM3 looks virtually the same)

Only one person in the family needs to prove income. A letter from a pension fund or some other similar item may also work. Email us for more information on this. Generally they are pretty flexible on your source of income, even if it stops when you move here.

FM2

On the other hand, when you renew your FM3 each year, you must show them the most recent 3 non-Mexican bank statements showing income.When you renew your FM3 the income can be shown by using Mexican or foreign bank statements.

If you are going to work down here, the FM3 will permit you to work at a particular job. So if you come down on the ‘retirement’ FM3 you need to convert it to the ‘working’ FM3.

Immigration charges you around 1,800 pesos for the FM3. If you change jobs or status from retired to working you need to request a change to your status. It’s a pain but it keeps you out of trouble.

There is a lot of paperwork to do when you find a job. The employer must be recognized by Immigration or they have to fill out a lot of forms and send letters saying why they want to hire a foreigner etc. We have mixed feelings about starting with a ‘retirement’ FM3 while job hunting. On one hand it shows the employer that you are definately planning to stay here. That moves your resume a lot higher on the pile and opens up the door to getting a bank account going, renting an apartment, etc. The downside is that you need to go back to immigration to convert it to a working FM3 when the job is found - but the employer may pay for that.

 
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