working in mexico

working in mexico

Oh, how many times have I heard it? I came here on vacation, fell in love and want to live here, but how can I work?

During my years here, I’ve met my fair share of illegal workers, non-Mexicans who have moved here and picked up a cash job without having obtained a work visa. Not only is that illegal, it will see you deported if you’re caught. A pretty risky way to live, if you ask me.

If you want to live and work in Mexico, anywhere in Mexico, you need a legal work visa. For some reason, a lot of people (mostly Americans) are under the impression that Mexico is a free-for-all without any rules when it comes to them living and working here.

That is simply not true and is one of the most common and misguided assumptions about this country. To live here, one needs legal permission. To work here, one also needs legal permission. To get legal permission to live and/or work in Mexico, you need to follow the rules and apply for that permission by qualifying.

When I first moved here, anyone who wanted to reside in the country could simply head to their nearest Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) office, fill out the application, provide the required paperwork, pay the fee and wait, usually for an approved visa. It was a pretty simple and fast process.

Now, however, the rules have changed and you can no longer go to a local INM office to initiate your residency. You have to start that process outside the country at your nearest Mexican embassy. There, they will tell you the requirements necessary based on the type of residency you are seeking.

Once approved, you have 30 days to get to a local INM office after you arrive in Mexico. The process is finished here. If you wish to work, you can request a work visa application at the same time. It is a separate fee and a separate application and process. That means it also requires its own file of paperwork.

Each INM office has different requirements, even when someone is applying for the same type of residency or work visa. Each, state, city and office is different, so it is best to go in person and ask what is needed, however, you can start many of the processes online.

You can read all sorts of articles about how to live and work in Mexico, but one thing I can assure you is that there are no one set of rules, and any rules that are uniform, change constantly.