On September 28, 2012, there was published in the Federal Official Gazette an executive order issuing the Regulations to the Immigration Act (the “Regulations”), and amending, repealing, and adding various provisions of the Regulations to the General Population Law and to the Regulations of the Religious Associations and Public Worship Act. The executive order will become effective within 30 business days following its publication, that is, November 9, 2012.
- NEW VISAS
The Immigration Act and its new Regulations create the following new ordinary visas and immigration forms:
- NONWORK VISITOR VISA.
This visa is valid for no more than 180 calendar days following the entry date into the country and may be granted for up to 10 years.
The visa is granted to aliens of countries whose nationals must obtain a visa to enter Mexico, in any of the following situations, among others: (a) frequent traveler; (b) economically solvent person; (c) supervisor of a foreign company having an affiliate in Mexico; (d) executive of an affiliate or business office of Mexican company abroad, or (e) person holding an invitation from a public or private entity or a government or private institution to participate in nongainful activities in the country (Art. 103).
The visa holder may also request the issuance of a similar for his/her spouse, common-law partner, minor children, and children of legal age subject to guardianship.
- WORK VISITOR VISA.
This visa is valid for no more than 180 calendar days, and allows the holder to receive a salary or remuneration payable in Mexico. The alien is required to have received a job offer from a natural or legal person resident in the country, who is the one to directly file the respective application with the National Immigration Institute (the “Institute”) (Arts. 105 and 115).
- TEMPORARY RESIDENT VISA
This visa allows the holder to stay in the country for more than 180 calendar days but less than four years. The requirements to obtain the visa are, among others, any of the following:
- Be invited by a public or private entity or a government or private institution to participate in a nongainful activity in the country. The invitation must state the duration and place where such activity is to be conducted and an undertaking of joint liability of the undersigned entity to pay all travel and living expenses of the visa holder; otherwise, such visa holder will be responsible to pay such expenses.
- Be related to a Mexican national or alien holding a temporary or permanent resident visa.
- Have investments in Mexico, including equity in a Mexican company, real estate for gainful or business purposes, or activities involving the creation of formal jobs.
The visa is issued for one entry only, and after entering the country, the holder has 30 calendar days to process and obtain a resident card. The term of the resident card may be between one and four years; however, if the visa is for work in Mexico, its term is limited to the duration of the job offer (Art. 156).
- STUDENT VISA.
This visa allows the holder to stay in Mexico for the duration of studies, courses or research projects, is for one entry only, and is valid for up to 180 calendar days.
The Regulations expressly provide that this visa will be neither processed nor obtained at the Institute, which means that it must be directly applied for at the consulate. However, for filing the application, it is necessary to accompany an invitation or acceptance letter from an educational institution (Arts. 108 and 118).
Any alien applying for the visa should first enter the country to find an appropriate education institution and leave the country after being accepted, which means that the alien will formally start studying only after having obtained the visa while abroad.
The resident card should be processed within 30 calendar days following holder’s entrance into the country.
- PERMANENT RESIDENT VISA.
This visa allows the holder to stay in Mexico for an indefinite period of time (Art. 157), and except for minor children, it is valid for multiple entries, and allows an alien of legal age to work in Mexico.
The requirements to obtain this visa are, among others: to fall within one of the categories and obtain the minimum to be provided in a system which is to be announced or maintain a regular immigration status during four consecutive years, for temporary residents, and during two consecutive years, when the visa has been granted to the holder’s spouse, common-law partner, or equivalent person, who is a Mexican national or an alien holding a temporary resident visa or related to a Mexican national by birth.
The visa is issued for one entry only, and after entering the country, the holder has 30 calendar days to process and obtain a resident card.
The holder of a temporary resident visa, student visa or permanent resident visa may also request the visa for any member of his/her family, which will be issued by the consulate, and the resident card will be obtained after entering the country.
- REPLACEMENT OF IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS
The new Regulations contemplate, as in the former Regulations, the replacement of immigration documents due to loss, theft, partial damage or destruction; provided however, that now it is mandatory that the holder personally appears to process and obtain the new documents (Art. 162).
For filing visa applications with the Institute, the requirements are practically the same as those previously contemplated, except that the consulate interview will be held within twelve business days following the date scheduled for the interview.
- JOB OFFERS
Any natural or legal person that makes a job offer to an alien is required to be registered with the Institute and hold the respective registration certificate. Further, the job offer letter should include, at least, the following data:
- Alien’s name;
- Description of the job to be performed in Mexico;
- Compensation (if any);
- Duration of the job being offered;
- Address of workplace, and
- Joint liability of the offeror.
- REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE
This certificate serves to attest the legal capacity and powers and authority of the natural or legal person offering the job. This document is known as the “basic file.” In those cases contemplated by the Regulations, a change of address for notices and communications or of legal representative or attorney-in-fact must be made within 30 calendar days.
Copies of tax returns must be filed annually.
The registration certificate is mandatory for any natural or legal person offering a job to an alien.
- POINTS AND QUOTA SYSTEM
The application for a visa or a change of immigration status (from temporary to permanent resident), accompanied by a job offer, will be subject to the following requirements of a points and quota system:
Quotas: list of occupations, geographical regions, immigration status (authorized activities) and/or the combination thereof. This means that the authorities will verify whether the “threshold” of a particular occupation within an immigration status has been reached or not.
Points: points to be based on educational level, job experience, proposed investment amounts, Spanish language fluency, knowledge of the Mexican culture, international awards, and others.
The Regulations do not specify which will be the categories, how points will be allocated or which will be the minimum point score necessary to obtain permanent residence, though it is provided that the points will be revised every three years (Arts. 109, 124-127 and 139).
The points and quota systems are not yet defined and are to be published in the Federal Official Gazette.
- IMMIGRATION REGULARIZATION
Regularization must be requested within 60 calendar days after the expiration of the immigration documents or the requirements are not longer met, among others.
One of the amendments is that the holder must now appear in person to officially certify the facts and reasons for regularization.
In case of a refusal, the alien must leave the country forthwith and may only request again such regularization after six months following the date the refusal was notified (Art. 146).
- CHANGES OF IMMIGRATION STATUS
The following changes may be applied for:
- From visitor or temporary resident to permanent resident, for being family related.
- From visitor or student resident to temporary resident, for being family related.
- From temporary resident and student resident to permanent resident.
- From student resident to temporary resident, which status may be changed at any time.
However, no specific procedure is contemplated for any of the above-mentioned cases (Art. 141).
Excluded from the possibility of changing immigration status is a job offer or intended studies in the country (and having an acceptance letter of an educational institution). In any of such cases, the alien will have to leave the country to obtain the relevant approval, and then return to Mexico to undertake the authorized activity.
The Regulations contemplate the eligibility to obtain an immigration status, but neither the procedure nor the requirements therefor, which will be set out in administrative rules to be announced later on (Arts. 129, 131, 138, and 139).
- RENEWAL OF IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS
The Regulations has practically maintained the provisions of the former Regulations with respect to the renewal of immigration documents.
- DOCUMENT EXPIRATION WHILE ABROAD
The term to file an application for renewal of documents has been reduced, when expired outside the country.
The renewal application must be filed within five business days after entering the country, provided that no more than 55 calendar days have passed from the expiration date of the respective document; otherwise, administrative-law penalties will be imposed. The Regulations further provide that a holder with a document which expiration date is more than 55 calendar days, will not be allowed to enter the country (Art. 160).
The maximum term to notify changes of civil status, nationality, address or workplace is 90 calendar days after the date of change (Art. 167).
- OTHER AMENDMENTS
Simultaneously with the amendments to the Immigration Act and the new Regulations, several provisions of the General Population Act, the Federal Criminal Code, the Federal Code of Criminal Procedure, the Federal Act against Organized Crime, the Federal Police Act, the Religious Associations and Public Worship Act, the Foreign Investment Act and the General Tourism Act have been amended, partially repealed or supplemented.