MEXICO - Complete Overhaul of Immigration System Coming Up
On 24 May 2011, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico, signed Mexico’s new immigration law (Nueva Ley de Migración). The new law, which will not take effect until the associated Regulations (Reglamento de la Ley) have been published (expected end of 2011) , makes radical changes to Mexico’s immigration procedures. These changes will override the changes brought in just a year ago by the Visa Manual of 1 May 2010, which were significant in themselves.
What Are the Most Significant Changes?
The new law seeks to simplify Mexican immigration regulations - to make them more transparent, easier to understand, and harder to abuse. Some of the significant change are as follows:
- The previous classifications of FM-2 and FM-3 will be removed
- The previously defined categories of “immigrant” and “non-immigrant” will be removed
- Four new categories will be introduced:
- “Visitors” (for duration of up to 180 days, includes visitors who are authorised to conduct remunerated activities in Mexico)
- “Temporary Residence” (replaces old FM-3 category)
- “Temporary Students”, and
- “Permanent Residence”
- A new points based system will be introduced for some permanent residence applications
- New ID cards (“Tarjetas de Residencia”) will be introduced
- Applications for Permanent Residence will now be considered from applicants who have resided in Mexico for four years with a temporary residence permit
More About the Points System
The Points System is a clear attempt to clean up Mexican immigration, which has hit the news several times in the last year with charges of corruption and frequent resignations and dismissals of high-level staff.
The Points System will apply to applicants who are seeking to obtain permanent residence on the basis of their skills and experience (rather than on the basis of having spent four years in Mexico as a temporary resident).
The exact details of the Points System have not been announced, but the following attributes of the applicant will be considered:
- Educational level
- Working experience
- Skills in fields connected to the development of science and technology
- Ability to develop international activities
New ID Card
Application procedures for the new ID card (“Tarjeta de Residencia”) will be announced only when the associated Regulations of the new law are published. However, the new law does state the following:
- ID cards must be applied for within 30 days of entry to Mexico
- Holders must be registered with the National Registry of Foreigners
- Holders must communicate any change in their immigration status (including marital status, nationality, residential address and place of work) to the authorities within 90 days of the change
In addition, it is likely that the new card will contain a biometric component (i.e. fingerprints and biometric photograph).
When Can We Expect To See Changes?
The Mexican immigration authorities (Instituto Nacional de Migración, or “INM”) should already be using the new law to govern their processing of new applications. However, guidelines and regulations on the new law have not yet been published, and are not expected until December 2011 at the earliest, meaning that the impact on employers is currently minimal.
Holders of current FM-2 and FM-3 visas will in any case not be required to take action until their visas expire, at which time, and provided the new Regulations have been published, their renewal applications will be processed according to the new system.
- Note the new system coming up, but no action required at this time.