An Expert Explains Why It Takes Some People Longer to Get Their Mexican Resident Card

Source: iStockphoto

The journey to obtain either a temporary or permanent resident card begins outside of Mexico, normally in your home country, at a Mexican embassy or consulate. If they approve your application, they will place a visa inside your passport that will allow you to enter Mexico to begin the second part of the process at immigration.

The friendly folks at the Mexican consulate often tell future expats that the second part of the process shouldn’t take more than 30 days. That is a very encouraging number, but don’t count on it. The fastest we have ever seen in our area (Quintana Roo) has been five weeks and the longest six months.

Yep, you read that correctly — six months.

Another common complaint that we hear from people involved in the process is that they know someone who started the process after they did; however, they received their resident card first. How is that even possible?

Well, I had a couple of rainy days in a row so I set out in search of answers. I spoke with Adriana Vela, an immigration specialist out of Playa del Carmen. She provided some insight into what causes delays and why some people get their cards before others.

1. INM Work Systems

For those readers who are unfamiliar with the abbreviation INM, it comes from Instituto Nacional de Migración — the agency that handles immigration matters in Mexico.

According to Adriana, the speed at which your application is processed will depend a lot on the workload of the individual office and which employees are handling your particular case. Just like with any office, there are employees who work quickly and ones that work slowly. If your case has been assigned to the latter, it can cause a significant delay in getting your card.

It’s also important to note that the offices are only working on processing the numerous applications that they receive a few hours a day. They attend to the public from 9 am to 1 pm and then spend the remaining part of their shift on administrative duties.

She added that there is nothing that your immigration specialist — if you have one — can do to expedite the process.

2. Wrong Box Checked on FMM

The FMM is the form that you filled out when you entered Mexico. When you have been approved for a resident card, the immigration officer at the airport or your point of entry should check the canje box on the FMM which authorizes you to stay in the country for 30 days.

Don’t worry, it really just means that you have 30 days to get to immigration to start the second process. Once you do, that will extend your permission to be in the country automatically.

If the immigration official checks the wrong box — most commonly one that allows you to stay in the country for 180 days — the form has to be physically returned to the point of entry to be corrected before the application can be processed by INM.

This is the box that should be checked.

You can avoid this problem by paying close attention to which box the immigration official checks. If it’s the wrong one, you will be in a position to address it immediately.

3. 180 Day Visa Period Expires

When the Mexican embassy or consulate approves your application to obtain a temporary or permanent resident card, you have 180 days to get to Mexico to complete the second part of the process.

According to Adriana, some people arrive too close to the 180 day cutoff date and the application is actually expired by the time an INM official gets around to reviewing it. In those cases, the documentation has to be forwarded to Mexico City for validation before it can be processed, resulting in a long delay.

To avoid this from happening, she recommends arriving in Mexico at least 60 days from the expiration of the 180 day visa period.

Let’s Wrap This Up

For those readers who are unaware of this fact, when INM is processing your paperwork to get your resident card, you are required to stay in the country. That’s why it’s a good idea not to book that return flight home because you might be down here longer than you anticipated.

If you absolutely need to leave the country for a valid reason, you can can get permission from INM to leave. To learn more about that, check out Getting Permission to Leave Mexico While Your Resident Card is Being Processed.

I was planning on ending the post right here, but upon reviewing it, I realized that I might get some emails from readers requesting Adriana Vela’s contact information — so, here it is:

Adriana Vela, Immigration Specialist
Business site: migrationtomexico.com
Contact email: contact@migrationtomexico.com

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking for to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

42 Comments on "An Expert Explains Why It Takes Some People Longer to Get Their Mexican Resident Card"

  1. Patricia Armstrong | June 1, 2018 at 11:04 am | Reply

    Hi Paul and Linda yes know the process but now with this tax Trump thing on Mexico and a few other countries another Mexican expat group has posted concerns for even getting it now a possibly there could be problems with that and the Sergio health ins thing, so not good news for those of us trying

    • Seguro Popular has had funding problems for awhile now, so I anticipate some “tweaking” in that area. Whether or not that will exclude legal foreign residents in the future remains to be seen. As far as granting visas for retirees to come to Mexico and spend money, that benefits the economy and there are no indications from a “legitimate” authority that would suggest a change is coming in that area.

      If you read back through many FB groups — and I mean go back years — you will see similar posts warning of “doom and gloom to come”. I’ve learned long ago to take them with a grain of salt.

    • I also read about this on another site but there is absolutely no evidence to suggest this is true. It was simply someone’s opinion.

  2. Mark Schellhammer | June 1, 2018 at 11:06 am | Reply

    Great timing. We just received our TRV and are in the process of selling our home in Dallas in preparation for our move to Puerto Vallarta. I was aware that we had 180 days to enter Mexico and check in with INM. I was NOT aware that our INM paperwork had to be completed before the expiration of the TRV. Now I know.
    One other thing you might mention. We asked if we could enter Mexico using a tourist visa to explore a possible different area in which to retire, and wait to use the TRV when we’d made a decision. The answer from the Dallas consulate was no, that the next time we entered Mexico we had to use the TRV and would immediately fall under the 30 day timeframe to get to the INM and would have to remain in Mexico until that paperwork was complete. If we didn’t stay and returned (not using the “extenuating circumstances” issue as you described) then the TRV would be voided and we would have to reapply.
    Thanks for all your help. It is appreciated. We hope to come to the east coast and visit soon after we’ve settled in PV.

  3. Thanks for the info! I predict a LOT of emails in poor Adriana’s inbox, lol.

    • Better her inbox than mine…lol.

      She does a great job for people. We know dozens of her former clients.

  4. Larry Olstad | June 1, 2018 at 11:14 am | Reply

    Hi Paul – I thought this might amuse you: The process of issuing cards of either sort has been held up in Mazatlan for weeks because the printer is broken!

  5. Charles Benfante | June 1, 2018 at 11:43 am | Reply

    Got mine approved in 2 weeks !

    • That’s awesome!

    • D'Andrea Pratt | June 2, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Reply

      Which location???

    • D'Andrea Pratt | June 4, 2018 at 8:50 pm | Reply

      Nice congrats. I’m curious about the process because I went into the Miami Consulate to start permanent residency process and was told I have to wait 1 year after retirement. I retired Jan 2018. The guy said he needs 12 months of retirement statements.

  6. We just received our RP in Chapala, and the process went smoothly. The Chapala office there wss very helpful and friendly, and the clerk spoke good English. We did communicate with a different facilitator in PDC before we decided on Chapala, and they indicated that we could pay nearly double their normal fee for them to “expedite” things for us, which turned me off and served as a red flag not to.use their services. We decided to use a awyer in Chapala that charged a reasonable fee, saved us hassle, and explained (like you did in this post), that there is no process to expedite things at INM. We had pur cards in hand about 6 weeks from submission of our application in the Chapala office. Busy season there was ending, though, so it might take longer in winter when the area is full of expats.

  7. Perfectly timed blog Paul, we move June 16th. Thanks!

  8. Hola! It took us about 6 months ! Fingerprinting was what held up completion. (System was overloaded) . We now have our residency cards, and we are glad it is complete. Now we can enjoy “fun and sun” in this wonderful country called home! Happy, we are!

  9. Keep in mind that if you have to leave MX while waiting for your card, you have to request permission to do so. They will let you leave for 60 days only . If you cannot return within that timeframe you will loose everything and have to start over from the beginning. I learned this the hard way. Don

  10. Huh, that’s strange, my process was a lot different. My wife being a mexican citizen. Might have something to do with a faster processing time. Interesting.

  11. You and Linda recommended that we contact Adriana regarding a few questions we had while completing the process in Playa. She was wonderful and we are so grateful! Thank you

  12. We did the first year process ourselves thinking that being fluent in Spanish would make it a breeze. Not so. In PDC we made 10 trips to INM before we finished. We used a lawyer the next year and for 5,000 Pesos each we received our Temporal that was good for the remaining 3 years required to move on to Permanente. It took about 2 weeks. The first year doing it ourselves took about 2 months! Hire a lier, I mean lawyer.

  13. Regarding paying “double” to expedite the process that is about normal. Our lawyer told us the same thing. He pointed out the extra 5,000 Pesos goes mostly to the head of the INM office where it is being processed. It could be done in 3 days. Money talks.

  14. We’re in Mazatlan and the process has come to a halt because the machine that prints the final IDs is broken. no word when it will be fixed. never can tell what will delay the processing. (fortunately we did ours as soon as we entered as canje.

  15. Also, I would like to point out to Walt that a 3 year visa is 7518. here’s a link (if allowed) http://www.sandiegoleisure.com/TEMPORARYMEXICORESIDENCY.html

  16. The 5,000 Pesos I noted was for the lawyer’s fee not the INM fee. Plus the 7,518 is less than paying for 3 years one year at a time – not that it matters. It has to be paid one way or the other. I was pointing out that for 5,000 Pesos we only went to the INM office twice – fingerprinting and pick-up.

  17. Thanks so much for the information. Just what we’re dealing with at the moment.

  18. Thanks for the info, your blog is always full of great information. I’ve been living in Vallarta and came up to Las Vegas to start my residency. Went to the Mexican consulate today and was told that I was $8usd short on four months of my income so I have to come back in four months. She said that requirements had “JUST changed” and that the office in Vallarta were real sticklers. Talk about being a day late and a dollar short lol

  19. Number 3 happened to me. It’s been 6 months since we started the process here and I’m finally doing my fingerprints next week.

  20. I wrote about our visa experience in Queretaro. We used a lawyer, which I think helped at least for the first time going through the process (we are on temporary status until we get our house built). It still took almost 4 weeks to get our cards mainly because they were out of visa cards for 2 weeks! We have friends who are doing it themselves and it is taking much longer. MOst of the problems seem to stem from the exact name (if you are William Smith II or III, every document including your bank receipts needs to show this).

  21. Any chance you can give me some advise on vehicle importation or a web site I could visit. We are moving down to the PV area later this year. We have a 20 year old, mint condition Honda CR V that would be a perfect vehicle for us down there. Is there obstacles to us keeping this vehicle if we qualify for permanent residency.

  22. Eddy Walker | June 2, 2018 at 7:51 am | Reply

    We got our TRV in less than 30 days. We went to the local Immigration office in Progreso in 4 days after we arrived. Luckily we got our paperwork right the first time which helped. The lady at the office said we were one of the few people who get if filled out correctly the first time.

  23. Don Malcolm | June 2, 2018 at 8:03 am | Reply

    Hey Paul! Our net time to get permanent at the PDC office was 3 months. Total time was almost 4 months.

    As our condo was new construction we didn’t have a utility bill to provide the address. Somehow, and we’re the only ones in our building to get one, we got an on-line bill for the meter installation less than a week before the 30-day canje visa expired.

    We made application with our lawyer 2 days before the canje visa expired. We were approved 3 weeks later. But the earliest we could get an appointment for fingerprinting was 7 weeks later.

    With fingerprinting done it was just a matter of time for the cards. We picked them up 2 weeks after fingerprinting.

    In our estimation it was well worth the cost to use an attorney. Ours was out of Cozumel and she made two trips over to PDC to attend INM with us. That, and all the extras she did to help, really helped with the process.

    Based on our experience I would advise applicants to plan on a minimum of 3 months from the date of the first visit to INM. And that’s if everything goes smoothly.

    As a side note, PDC does NOT assign a CURP when the resident card is issued. That is a separate application in Playa.

  24. Mark in Merida | June 2, 2018 at 10:28 am | Reply

    Looks like we were lucky, we had our Permanent Resident Card within two weeks of arriving. The Consultant in Washington DC was the best source of information and extremely helpful. On our first visit to the Consulate, they advised us to not to get the Visa any sooner than 2 weeks prior to departing – which we did. Once we got here, we went to the INM office, filed the paper work and the cards arrive the following week. Guess it depends on where you live and the INM agent, I can’t say our guy who processed our paper work was the agreeable, but he got it done quickly.

  25. Sherri Bundura | June 2, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Reply

    We tried last year to get our residency. But every time we went in to IMN they charged us . We showed the agent the charges listed on the Web site and he told us it could be a lot more, that he was giving us a deal. He then went and got another Americans paper work to show how much more they had paid. We finally gave up. We just go back to the states a couple of times a year and re enter with a new tourist visa. We’re in Southern Baja in a small town with only one agent. I guess he does what ever he wants, but we do love living here and most people go out of their way to be helpful and kind. …S Bundura

    • I’m sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with that. One suggestion is to hire someone to handle that part for you and/or go to a different INM office.

  26. D'Andrea Pratt | June 4, 2018 at 9:02 pm | Reply

    Hi Paul, I was told that I must wait 12 months after retirement to start the permanent residency process here in Miami. Are you familiar with this??? I thought that I just needed to show proof of retirement (letter from retiring agency which is gov’t), few months of retirement check stubs, bank statements for 12, etc.

    I was informed they need to see 12 months of retirement check stubs first to even start…

    • It really depends on the particular consulate office. Many will grant you a permanent resident visa immediately upon retiring, provided that you can satisfy the financial requirements, others come up with arbitrary rules like that; however, they can never show you anything in writing.

      The good thing about the process being so inconsistent is that you can always go to another consulate and try again. One reader told us that her and her husband had been denied at a particular consulate for something similar to this. After I suggested they “shop around”, they went to a consulate in a different city and were granted their visas.

  27. Wow I guess we were very lucky. WE started the process at the Las Vegas consulate (very easy, straight forward and done in an hour) and then when we got to Loreto, the process was completed in less then 3 weeks.

  28. just recieved ours in 2 weeks in Playa – expedited and used lawyer – very easy and agree money talks as made one mistake, but didnt delay process as discussed above

  29. We got our Residente Temporal cards at the CHapala office. We did not hire a lawyer. We made 4 visits. The total time was about 4 weeks. Some people seemed to be waiting longer because they did not fill out the information online, per the clerk’s instruction. We followed all the instructions carefully and I think it helped.

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