Mexico: New Immigration Procedures Take Effect
Mexican authorities recently provided clarification on the implementation of the new Immigration Procedures Manual, which went into effect on May 1, 2010. The following is a summary of notable developments under the new rules. Please note that the Mexican government’s interpretation of the new Manual is subject to change at any time without notice. Fragomen will continue to monitor the implementation of the new Manual and provide updates as they become available.
Permissible Use of the New FMM Immigration Document
All foreign nationals entering Mexico must obtain the new Multiple Use Immigration Form (FMM) upon arrival at a Mexican port of entry. The types of business and work activities foreign nationals can perform under the FMM, however, depend largely on their nationality. Certain foreign nationals will be permitted to work on the FMM without the need for additional employment authorization; others may be required to obtain work authorization. All FMM holders who are placed on a Mexican company’s payroll or who otherwise receive payment from a local source while in Mexico, regardless of nationality, require work authorization in addition to the FMM, despite contrary language in the new rules.
FMM holders who are nationals of countries designated as unrestricted – including the United States, Canada and most European Union countries – may perform any activity in Mexico for up to 180 days without further authorization, provided they are not paid by a Mexican source. Unrestricted nationals who receive payment from a Mexican source or will remain in Mexico for business or employment purposes for more than 180 days must obtain a work permit in addition to the FMM.
Nationals of countries designated as restricted – including China, India, Russia and newer EU member countries – must receive advance authorization from the immigration authorities before entering Mexico for business or work. After obtaining the required authorization, these nationals must apply for an entry stamp and be interviewed at a Mexican consular post abroad before traveling to Mexico. On arrival in Mexico, they will obtain the FMM but are not permitted to engage in business or work activities until they complete the business or work authorization process at a local immigration office, which must occur within 30 days of arrival. As a result, restricted nationals must wait until they receive their work permit before commencing work in Mexico.
Nationals of countries designated as regulated – including Brazil, Guatemala, Indonesia and the Philippines – must apply for and obtain an entry stamp from a Mexican consular post abroad before traveling to Mexico. On arrival, they are granted the FMM and may perform any activity in Mexico for up to 180 days without further authorization, provided that they are not paid by a Mexican source. Regulated nationals who receive payment from a Mexican source or will remain in Mexico for business or employment purposes for more than 180 days must obtain a work permit in addition to the FMM.
Visa Exemption for Restricted and Regulated Nationals Holding U.S. Visas
It is expected that nationals of restricted and regulated countries who hold a visa issued by the United States and a passport valid for at least six months will be permitted to enter Mexico without prior authorization from the Mexican authorities. It is unclear at this time whether any restrictions will be placed on the type of U.S. visa which will qualify for the exemption. Currently, only restricted and regulated nationals who are permanent residents of the United States are eligible for the visa exemption. Fragomen will provide updates on the new exemption as additional information becomes available.
New Work Permit Format
As of May 1, 2010, foreign nationals who require a work permit are being issued the new “nonimmigrant photo credential” work permit (fotocredencial del No Inmigrante). The new work permit is an identification card bearing the holder’s photo and a barcode designed to expedite the admission process. It replaces the FM-3 nonimmigrant permit. The FM-3 had previously served as the work permit for a wide range of employment categories, including executives, managers, administrators and other professionals. Current FM-3 permit holders in Mexico will be issued the new nonimmigrant photo credential work permit upon renewal of their work authorized status.
Changes of Employer or Job Title
Under the new rules, nonimmigrant photo credential work permit holders who seek to change employers or job titles may do so without prior authorization from the Mexican authorities, provided they continue to work in the same industry and type of position originally authorized. Previously, work permits were specific to a particular employer and position, and foreign nationals could only change employers or job titles at the discretion of the Mexican authorities. As before, employers must notify immigration authorities whenever their foreign workers’ employment is terminated before the expected end date.
Employer Reporting Obligations Unchanged
Employers’ reporting obligations remain unchanged under the new rules. Employers who hire foreign nationals in Mexico must notify the immigration authorities within 15 days of terminating a foreign employee or following changes to a foreign employee’s professional activities, domicile, marital status or dependent family members (e.g., birth of a child on Mexican soil).
New Online Appointment System
Applicants or their representatives are now required to make an appointment in order to file applications of any kind with the immigration authorities in Mexico. Because applications must now be filed based on the immigration authorities’ appointment schedule and may no longer be filed immediately upon preparation, processing delays may occur.
In preparing this article, Fragomen worked closely with Aguilar Noble, Salgado & Asociados (Mexico). The content of this alert is provided for information purposes only.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen Global Immigration Services or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.