Located at the southern end of North America, Mexico is one of the most important economic partners to the United States and Canada. Mexico’s rich history and its ever growing economy has turned the country into an appealing destination for digital nomads. The country’s strong university system also makes Mexico one of the best places to recruit developers, marketers, and other knowledge workers.
To start working in Mexico as a foreigner, you will need to apply first for a work permit, and then begin the process of applying for a work visa. Immigration to Mexico can be a simple and easy process as long as foreign nationals follow the correct protocol for obtaining a work visa and permit.
Here’s a look at the process employees and employers need to follow when applying for work visas and permits in Mexico.
A Mexican work visa is a permanent or temporary resident visa that allows foreigners to legally live and work in Mexico. Though immigration to Mexico can take some time for someone wanting to work in Mexico, there are a number of options for obtaining a work permit.
This visa allows foreigners to be on payroll in Mexico, as well as grants them unlimited entries and exits into and out of the country. This work permit is usually issued for one year initially, and can be renewed for 1, 2, or 3 years.
Foreigners can remain in Mexico on a tourist visa for up to 180 days while their temporary or permanent resident visa is processed.
In Mexico, there are three different types of visas: tourist visa, temporary resident visa, and permanent resident visa. Each visa has different requirements for a foreign national to qualify.
Tourist visas are only available for foreigners staying in Mexico for up to 180 days and not planning to work for a Mexican business or entity while visiting. This visa is sufficient for visiting the country, but does not allow for employment in Mexico.
Temporary resident visas are for foreigners who plan to stay in the country for longer than 180 days but fewer than 4 years. Temporary resident visa holders who have a work permit from their employer can live and work in Mexico for up to 4 years.
Foreigners who are looking to live and work in Mexico permanently or retire in the country need a permanent resident visa. People who qualify for permanent resident visas usually have close family ties in Mexico or have been working in the country for longer than 4 years. Permanent resident visas must be obtained through a request by an employer.
Spouses and children of foreigners who have a work visa (or are currently applying for one) can also apply for a temporary resident visa in order to establish residence in Mexico. However, they will not be able to apply for a permanent resident visa, since that request must go through an employer.
The initial application fee for a Mexican work visa and permit costs around $2,000 USD. If you plan to renew the visa, it will cost between $1,000-$3000 USD, depending on the duration of your visa extension.
In order to apply for a work visa and permit, applicants need to prepare a series of important documents, including the visa application form, a valid passport, and all necessary migratory documents. Employers must also provide applicants with a formal employee agreement to work for their company to demonstrate proof of employment. Employers must officially offer potential employees a job in order for them to qualify for a work visa.
Applicants should be prepared to demonstrate why they need to be in Mexico for financial reasons. They should also be prepared to show any personal, professional, or family ties they have to Mexico.
Applying for a work visa can take 3-6 months on longer, and requires applicants to submit a number of documents and show proof of their passport to Mexican institutions as well as prove that they have a job. Here’s a quick overview of the process.
Submit necessary documents to the INM (Instituto Nacional de Migracion)
Wait 3-6 months for approval, depending on the INM timing. They will need approval of your “Residente temporal por oferta de empleo.”
Once your visa is approved by INM, schedule an appointment for an interview at a consulate outside of Mexico
Complete interview at consulate
Get your visa stamped into your passport. If the visa is approved, it will cost between $36-40 USD
Travel back into Mexico
Complete the “Canje process” by handing in documents from your consulate appointment at INM offices
Prepare the necessary documents for your FM3 card (temporary resident visa)
If you need to leave Mexico before receiving your FM3 card, you must request a travel permit and document your departure
After Canje is complete, return to the INM to receive fingerprints and your FM3 card
Many companies based in Mexico want to hire talent in different countries, but aren’t exactly sure how to go about onboarding and paying employees across borders compliantly. Maybe you want to hire a software engineer based in Colombia, or a designer living in Canada.
With Via, we help you hire, onboard, and pay remote employees across the world. As your employer-of-record abroad, we take care of the local HR logistics, such as payroll, benefits, taxes, and obtaining work permits. Maintaining compliance is our responsibility. You simply focus on building your team and running your business.
To work in Mexico, you need a permanent work visa. While waiting for the Permanent Work Visa to be processed, you can remain in Mexico on a temporary work visa.
No, they are not the same. The work permit allows for the individual to enter the country, but after 30 days in Mexico, the work permit should be exchanged for the work visa.
Technically speaking, foreigners and expats can work on a tourist visa in Mexico for up to 180 days, as long as the company is not based in Mexico. Otherwise, they will need a residency visa in order to work for a Mexican company.
No, you cannot apply for a work visa while in Mexico. Only temporary residents in Mexico can apply for a work permit while they are in Mexico.
A work visa for a 1 year year work permit costs around 3,500 pesos or around 173 (USD). The price of a work visa varies depending on the application.
No, a foreign candidate cannot be paid by a Mexican entity until the visa is approved by the INM and the Mexican Consulate. The only legal way to be paid in Mexico is to be approved by the INM and the Mexican Consulate. If they are a foreigner in Mexico, visa applicants can form a contract agreement with the employee through a different entity in another country (such as the US) while waiting for the process to be completed. This would allow the candidate to start working, as long as they are based in the US and being paid by a US entity.