How Long Does it Take INM to Process a Resident Card Application These Days? We’re About to Find Out

Readers of the blog often ask us how long it takes to receive one’s temporary or permanent resident card once all of the paperwork has been submitted to el Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM).

There is no set answer because it depends on the particular office and how backed up they are. It could be as short as three weeks or as long as ten months.

In our area of Mexico (Quintana Roo), we’ve got friends who have been waiting six months to receive their cards. The downside is that if they want to leave Mexico during the process, they have to obtain permission from INM and that costs money.

You can lean more about that here: Getting Permission to Leave Mexico While Your Resident Card is Being Processed

Our Transition from Temporary to Permanent Residents

Linda and I have lived in Mexico for four years as Temporary Residents. That’s the maximum amount of time that someone can keep that status, so this week we began the process to transition to Permanent Residents.

The process and wait times at el Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) are basically the same whether your getting your first resident card, renewing an existing one or changing your residency status. That’s why we thought some readers might benefit from seeing how long it takes us to get it done.


July 25, 2019: Paperwork submitted to INM in Playa del Carmen

November 6, 2019: Returned to INM to be fingerprinted

Elapsed Time Since Starting the Process

Let’s Wrap This Up

We plan to update this post as we move through the process. If you’re curious how long it will take, we recommend that you bookmark this page and check back from time to time.

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About the Author

Qroo 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 to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico ( to share their experiences as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

61 Comments on "How Long Does it Take INM to Process a Resident Card Application These Days? We’re About to Find Out"

  1. Do you know about how much it costs for permission to leave the country during the process of applying for Temporary Residency?

  2. Do you have any insight if one member of your family needs to leave during the process? Next year we’ll be at that point and our son is studying in the US for college. He wants to keep his status for summer and after college but not sure what to do.

  3. We applied for our permanent visa in the US two months before moving down. That gave us a “temporary permanente” getting us into Mexico and giving us 30 days to get into the local immigration office. We used an immigration attorney here just to make life easier which was a good thing since there was a government change during our process. I applied in December just before the holiday break. I needed to go back to the US in February and things were slowed because of the new government but my attorney was able to put a rush on it for me and I had it in hand for my trip. Once we applied here it was roughly 2 months.

    • Thanks for sharing that time frame, Cindy. I hope ours goes that fast. When we first moved down, I had my Temporary Resident Card in month. 🙂

  4. mark h sahs | July 26, 2019 at 11:51 am |

    Thank you for the update. I will be applying for my permanent residence on the 16th of August in Nayarit. Will update you on the progress. Should be interesting.

  5. Sharon Lesley | July 26, 2019 at 11:53 am |

    Interesting post, we will be moving from temporary to permanent next April so I look forward to you guinea pigging for us!
    I was wondering if we should use a lawyer this time as it’s for permanente but if the process is exactly the same we can probably manage it ourselves.

    • I did the Temporary and the Temporary renewal on my own, but I hired someone this time. It is just SOOOOO much easier. She did the paperwork and went to INM on our behalf so we could do more important things, like go to the beach…lol.

  6. Mark in Merida | July 26, 2019 at 12:01 pm |

    I think a lot of people will be watching the clock on your process. We were told when we applied in Washington DC Consulate that we had 30 days from the application date to get our Permanent Resident card. And, exactly as we were told; arrived with our paperwork, hired Yucatan Expat Services (YES) to assist us –(best money we ever spend) and in 3 days from the date of showing up at the INM office, cards were in our hands. It was pretty simple and fast… I’ll be waiting for your update. As always thanks for the information.

  7. Jerry Butler | July 26, 2019 at 12:12 pm |

    Last summer my permanent resident visa took four weeks, start to finish, in Puerto Vallarta. I did use a visa counselor to do all the paperwork for me. All I did was show up for fingerprints, signatures, and to pick up the card.

  8. Garrett Klassen | July 26, 2019 at 12:27 pm |

    I too am currently switching from 4-year Temporal to Permanente. I took my initial paperwork and bank receipt of first payment to INM in Chapala on July 12. On July 24 The online system (which is great by the way) notified me they were ready for fingerprints. Yesterday, July 25, I took them bank receipts of the second payment and photos. Prints are done, and they are promising completion by July 31. We’ll see. I need to leave Mexico briefly starting August 4, so cutting it a little tight.

  9. Paul – something that you imply but don’t explicitly state is that one must apply with the closest INM office to their residence, correct? So you couldn’t have come over to Cozumel to apply here just because the office isn’t as swamped. Or for that matter, you couldn’t go to Progresso, which I understand turns things around very quickly.

  10. We started in Nogales, AZ and asked from the get-go for Permanent. We were granted it by them the same day. (Tip – take more documents and paperwork than they ask for – I WOW’d them with my organized docs. Note: they don’t ask for your expenses, only proof of income.) We paid and got finger printed on the spot before we headed back to Mexico. Then we used a consultant (not an attorney) to handle things in Guaymas. Once she submitted everything to them, they scheduled us for fingerprinting and signatures in about a week. Then another 2-1/2 weeks for our green cards to arrive. The whole process from application in the US to green card in my wallet was about 6 weeks.

    • That’s fantastic! I’ll keep my fingers crosses that it works like that for us. 🙂

  11. I live in Merida and submitted for my TR on April 16th and received my card 97 days later on July 22nd

  12. Bob Knight | July 26, 2019 at 1:18 pm |

    For those of us who started our journey to permanent resident under the old FM system that required yearly renewal of FM3 for 5 years the FM2 yearly for 4 years before we could apply for permanent resident may have limited sympathy for how long you and others may have to wait. Try going to Immigration 2-3 times a year for 9 years and compare that to the current system … I think you will find yourselves very lucky.

    • That does sound like a pain. Kind of a Mexican version of the “up hill to school both ways” story…lol.

  13. We finally received our Permanent Residency Visa in Albuquerque yesterday. It took more than six weeks and four rescheduled appointments even though we were very well prepared with our documents. They are a small office and busy. We are off to Oaxaca to finish the process in three weeks. The lady at the consulate said we would not need to use an agent to complete the process in Oaxaca since our visas are approved and need only to make the appointment, pay the fees, submit photos and be fingerprinted. But I am a bit uneasy that the process could still be slow. The fee for the agent isn’t that much so maybe better to be proactive.

    I wonder if anyone else has completed the process in Oaxaca and has an idea how long it takes there.

    • You’ll still have to complete additional paperwork etc, I would recommend hiring someone to get all that done for you. It is SOOOO much easier.

  14. We applied for our Temporary Visa on March 28th. Our Immigration Attorney has made the process easy for us but what has been difficult is the long wait to complete the process in PDC. We had no idea it would take so long. Since we needed to get back home, we applied for an Exit Letter. It was easy to do. Our Attorney took care of it. Sixty days goes so fast and she still thinks it will be a few more months. Yikes! I happen to see someone talking about getting the Resident Card expedited. I contacted our Attorney. I wish I had known about it before we went through the expense of the Exit Letter and flights back and forth. There is such a thing for the extra cost of $200.00 USD per person. Besides the first expense, there was also a loss of valuable time. So we have been approved for our Resident Card and have the appointment next week. On that day we get fingerprinted. We pay our $400.00 and receive our card the next day. We are now free to come and go as we please. This might not matter for most people. We will be hopefully having our home started in October and there is so much to do back home to prepare for that. Even if there is a delay, then we won’t have to come back till the contractor is ready to go. Hope this helps others who might want to make it faster. I will post again after we actually receive the Resident Cards.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Deb.

      I suspect the reason why your attorney didn’t mention the “expedited service” until you asked about it, is because it’s not exactly legal. The extra money paid does not go to the Mexican government but rather into the pockets of corrupt officials at INM.

      These types of transactions have an air of legitimacy about them because they are done through lawyers, but make no mistake, they are 100% illegal.

      In the news earlier this year, the INM office in Tapachula, Mexico became the target of an official investigation for something similar. Numerous people complained that lawyers / INM officials were charging between $300-$900 USD to agilizar (speed up) paperwork. The office was shut down for a week and all of the files were reviewed.

      Cleaning up the corruption in INM seems to be a priority for the current president. At a press conference in June, he said that over 500 corrupt INM employees have already been terminated and that he wasn’t done yet.

  15. Daniel Vasquez | July 26, 2019 at 3:36 pm |

    We applied for Permanent Visa five years ago after four years with Temporary status. It took four weeks if memory serves me correctly, lol. This is in Chapala, Jal with the main office in Guadalajara.

    It does make me chuckle though that our immigrant card in Mexico is Green, the same as immigrant cards issued in the US.

  16. After applying for Permanent residency in Kansas City in early fall last year, I returned a month later to Manzanillo and brought my temporary acceptance to the INS office I brought photos and my other documentation with me. They are very particular with any facial hair covering your face, but otherwise no surprises. They asked me to return a week later to pick up my card.
    I returned but they said their machine was down and that things could take another 2-3 weeks. I had plans to fly to Argentina 2 weeks later. Ended up having to obtain authorization to leave the country. Worked out fine and my card was waiting for me when I returned! If not for the broken down machine, I (presumably) would have had my card in 1 week.

  17. Came down in March with a Residente Temporal from a Consulate in the US with only about 10 days left on the 6 months validity. Immediately went to the INM office in Puerto Escondido to complete the process before our time frame was up. They laughed that we were really cutting it close but we explained that we had some unforeseen events that prevented us from getting to Mexico sooner. They were EXTREMELY helpful even doing some of the paperwork for us. They gave us some paperwork to take to Aduana in order to extend our TIP. A week or 10 days later we had our permanent card.

  18. In Zihuatanejo, Guerrero it took me me 5 days to get my temporary resident card good for one year-2018. In 2019 it took me a few days longer as I was not as fast to get photos/bank receipt back..3 years temporary resident.

    • That’s amazing! I think you now hold the record as being the person to get their card the fastest. 🙂

  19. JoAnn Humphries | July 26, 2019 at 11:01 pm |

    We started the process in El Paso, Texas today and got part 1 completed. We left with the one time entry Permanent Visa in the back of our passport. We arrive in Playa August 18 and plan on starting part 2 with INM the next day. Could you please share the name of the attorney you used and what the cost was? Our Spanish is still limited but we are learning thanks to your lessons. I think it is best for us to use an attorney for this progress to save a few gray hairs.

  20. We obtained our RT 3 times in Guadalajara. Each time it took exactly 4 weeksto have it

  21. David,

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Just so you know, the extra $500 USD did not go to the INM office but rather some corrupt officials who work there. The act of paying bribes to speed paperwork along is fairly common in Mexico, but it is still illegal. It is called cohecho and the penalties can include prison time.

    For that reason, I took the liberty of redacting the name of the law firm and lawyer you used. I’m sure they would prefer it that way…lol.

    One thing you’ll learn here in Mexico. Just because the advice is coming from a lawyer, doesn’t mean it’s legal.

  22. I was in a similar situation as you, Paul. My 4 years of Residente Temporada was expiring in early January 2019 and I needed to change to Perminente. I had a professional helper due to my so-so spanish. I went to the Playa del Carmen IMM office early January only several days before my Temporada was to expire and applied for my Perminente. I waited until the first of April when I needed to return to the US and had to get a Travel Permit. IMM said that my Perminente had been approved but they didn’t have an appointment time for me to do my fingerprints and signature before I needed to leave. Stayed in the US for 57 days and returned to Mexico with an appointment to do my fingerprints and signature. That was done upon returning the end of May. Then, all that was left for IMM to do was to print my card. That took another 6 weeks. I got my Perminente card around the first of July. All together it was 6 months but I probably held the process up about 45 days having to return to the US on the travel permit.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Stan. I hope it doesn’t take us six months to get ours but I have a feeling it might.

  23. I did not get back the other half of the immigration form when I left. Didn’t realize it until I was on the plane home.i have my permanent green card. How do I come back to Mexico without that? Help. This is the second time this has happened!

    • No worries. Just fill out the FMM again on the plane when you fly back in and explain it to the INM agent when you present them with the form and your passport. It happens quite often.

  24. Hi Paul! My husband and I both applied for permanent residency. We used a visa specialist because we are not fluent in Spanish and really don’t know our way around to the various places (immigration, photo, fingerprints, etc) we would need to go in order to obtain residency. My husband met with a visa specialist on June 24 (expedited) and received his permanent residency on July 4th. I met with a visa specialist on July 11. I am not doing expedited, so I am waiting also. I will update you when I go for fingerprints and photos. Fingers crossed it’s before six months.

  25. Jan and Elise Gronhaagen | July 27, 2019 at 2:48 pm |

    HI Paul,
    As we just purchased our Townhome, I believe where you are located, we want to know if we should apply for permanent residency now, even though are plan is for full time move in 1-1/2 – 2 years. Is this even feaible or since we will reside in the States till that time, even possible? Thanks for your time and info. Jan and Elise.
    P.S. regarding doctors and dentists, any word on Lasik surgery success down there?

    • Hi Jan and Elise! Welcome to the neighborhood!

      If you don’t plan on moving down yet, I would recommend holding off on getting the permanent. That way, you can do it closer to the time that you actually move down and bring your household items duty-free.

      As far as Lasik is concerned, I haven’t researched that one yet and I don’t recall seeing any ads for it.

  26. Larry and Sandi Britt | July 29, 2019 at 10:02 am |

    Hi Paul and Linda, It was great meeting you in Cozumel !
    We started our process for Permanent Resident Visa in Colorado July 2018.
    Upon arriving in Mexico, we hired a Lawyer on Nov. 26, 2018 and presented additional paperwork to INM that day
    We left Mexico on a Special Permit January 19 – 29, 2019
    We did our fingerprints April 22, 2019
    We are still waiting for the Permanent Resident Visa card ….. 3 months +
    Kindest regards, Sandi

    • Thanks for sharing your timeline. We expect to be waiting for awhile.

    • Hello
      We picked up our Permanent Resident Visa cards this morning at INM in Playa del Carmen – Yay! 🙂
      Next Tuesday CURP and Senior cards. Almost done !
      Comment from Lawyer –
      NEVER make and carry a copy of your Permanent Resident Visa card – it’s against the law in Mexico.

      • Thanks for sharing. We keep pictures on our phone. We’ve been stopped twice by INM agents at the police checkpoint in Playa del Carmen and they said that pictures of our cards (front and back) on our phone are sufficient to show we’re in the country legally.

      • Sandi and Larry | August 9, 2019 at 5:22 pm |

        Thanks Paul, I would prefer not to carry our Resident Visa as we have heard it is a big hassle to get it replaced if lost ! We were able to get our CURP and Senior cards and at the same time we have moved into our newly remodeled palapa – so we are truly settled in Mexico!
        Living and Loving the new adventure! certainly a big change from the mountains of Colorado 🙂

  27. Michelle Brunner | July 29, 2019 at 2:00 pm |

    We are thinking we will have my husband go permenant and I will go temporary (car is in my name) to start. Can they be put together in one application or would each one require seperate financial backup? We plan on going to the consulate in Phoenix – if anyone has experience with this consulate I would appreciate it!

  28. Janet Gorski | July 31, 2019 at 12:10 pm |

    Hi! After 4 years as temporary residents we made application through Cancun office on November 27th, 2018. We finally got our cards on May 23rd, 2019…with a few complications. I had already used a 60 day permiso, but my daughter was in active labor and we needed to get back for that event! Got back early the 25th just in time!

  29. I skipped the temp. Residency and went right to a permanent residency ..
    applied at the Mexican consulate in Chicago , got my sticker in dos dias
    (2 days) .
    I did hire an abogado (lawyer) in Playa
    Arrived in Mexico 1/27 , received permanent card from immigration in Playa 2/20
    Well worth the money , if you are on limited time while in Mexico.
    Mike w

  30. My temp residency renewal began in Feb as it expired in March. I have an attorney do mine as I don’t have the time or patience to deal with lines and all the back and forth. To date I still have not recieved my appointment for fingerprints, etc. I had to leave a week or so ago for my daughters wedding and had to get the permission paper. I believe it was 450 or 500 pesos for the paper. I just got an update while here in the US that I have now been moved to pre-appeoval for my appointment. I keep hearing he should have an approval soon to schedule my appointment, with perhaps the card being ready sometime in Oct. Cancun is terribly behind and it affects everything. I can’t get a phone plan like I want because I dont have the card, paper isn’t good enough. I can’t get airport credentials for my job because I dont have the card..again paper isnt good enough. By the time I get it, it will be time to start over. Last year the process took about 3 months from start to finish. This year not so lucky.

  31. Our 1st time we applied for temp residency in the Cabo San Lucas office we got it in the same week. We just had to print out our flight information and show them that we were leaving in that Saturday. We picked up our cards in Froday afternoon! Our 1 yr was up and we had to renew again and did the exact same thing. Went in on a Monday morning with everything ready (new pictures and all), went to the bank paid and came right back with our receipts. Showed them our print out that we were on flights leaving on Saturday and were told our cards would be ready in Friday. Friday came and we picked up our cards!

  32. I’m on day 60! Keep you posted!

  33. Last September 2018, I received my Temporary resident permit in one week. On August 7, 2019, I applied for a 3 year renewal. Still haven’t heard anything. I’m based out of Mexico city. I have a flight I had planned back in May for a medical appointment and a holiday vacation. I didn’t expect this process to take this long. If I don’t hear anything by the first place week of October, I’ll have to request an exit entry permit. But, the sad part is I’ll be gone more than 60 days, so I’ll have to start the process all over again in a Mexican consulate in the USA 🙁 And all my money will be lost that I paid immigration for my 3 year renewal.

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