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Applying for Citizenship in Mexico

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Cuernavaca, Mexico
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Applying for citizenship in Mexico is an option some expats are interested in but know little about. In addition to having legal immigration and working status, integrating yourself by learning the language and being of “good character” are critical if you wish to apply for Mexican citizenship.

Citizenship may not be of relevance to you right now, but if you plan on making your home in Mexico long-term, it might be in the future. With that in mind, let me review the three most important requirements for Mexican citizenship.

Good Character Requirement

This requirement applies to any applicant over 18 years of age and, frustratingly, there is no definition for good character within the Mexican Immigration Institute (INM). The absence of statutory clarity may be part of the reason why many applicants find themselves faced with a refusal on the grounds of not satisfying the “good character” requirement.

There is, however, a guide that delineates why a decision maker will consider an applicant not to be of good character:

  • Criminal convictions, non-custodial sentences and other out of court disposals
  • War crimes, crimes against humanity or terrorism
  • Inappropriate financial affairs, notably a failure to pay taxes
  • Notoriety, chiefly a persistence of bad behavior in a local or wider community
  • Dishonesty or deception when submitting an application to the Mexican Government
  • Evasion of immigration control
  • Previously been deprived of citizenship

Spanish Language Requirement

If you are a national of a country not listed by the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE) as Spanish speaking, you may have to take and pass a Spanish language test. It is worth remarking that an applicant may use his/her degree certificate as evidence, if their subject was taught to them in Spanish.

This requirement may appear not burdensome if you are well versed in the language. Nonetheless, it should be dealt with due care as it is not uncommon for an applicant to provide an invalid Spanish language certificate. Many think that just because it’s easy to acquire a false certificate it is the way to go, without considering the consequences of being caught. You should ensure that you have taken and passed the right test, following the guidelines provided by INM, or you may be looking at a refusal.

Residence Requirement

To meet the residence requirements set out in the Citizenship section of the INM, an applicant must be a resident of Mexico for a period of three to five years, ending with the date of application. Sometimes you can apply for citizenship in three years depending on certain circumstances. During this time the applicant must have had no more than 450 days outside of Mexico, with a maximum of 90 days in the final 12 months prior to application.

Exceeding your allowed absences is very common. However, it is not terminal to your application provided you are able to provide an explanation supported by evidence. The INM agents are permitted a modicum of discretion in cases where an applicant has spent more than 450 days outside of Mexico, but only if the applicant meets the remaining requirements and the period of days is not excessive.

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