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COVID-19 Has Affected Immigration Policies in Mexico  

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COVID-19 has affected immigration policies in Mexico and other countries around the world. Immigration-related measures have been put in place to help slow the spread of the virus.

Here are some of the key changes in Mexico:

•     Restrictions on entry or travel for individuals who have been in countries    where the virus is widespread.
•     Travelers from such countries are quarantined upon entry.
•     Health screening procedures on entry are required.
•     Visa application centers have been closed.
•     The government has advised against non-essential travel, either generally or to specific countries acutely affected by the outbreak.

How does the current situation impact your immigration status in Mexico? If you have a visa already in place that is not due to expire anytime soon, there are no active steps you need to take. If you want to travel outside Mexico (or if you have already left and are seeking to return), we suggest that you check official government websites for warning and travel information.

If you have a visa that is due to expire soon, you may find yourself in a situation where you are unable to leave Mexico due to travel restrictions. Thankfully, the National Immigration Institute (INM) announced an extension of visas for those who cannot return home due to the pandemic. This extension will be kept under review, with the prospect of further extensions being made if necessary.

Anyone in this situation should contact the COVID-19 immigration team, which has been set up within the Mexican Visas and Immigration division of the INM Office (we have listed contact information at the end of this blog). If you are affected, you can email this team to inform them that your visa has expired. You will then be issued an extension.

Those who contact the INM Office for visa extensions will not face any immigration enforcement actions, but you will be expected to return to your home country once travel restrictions have been lifted.

How does the current situation impact a visa application? Applying for a Mexican visa requires the applicant to complete a number of steps, which may include:

•     Submitting the visa application online.
•     Booking and attending an appointment at a visa application center to provide biometric information.
•     Attending a face-to-face interview.
•     Arriving in Mexico to collect the residence permit before your travel document expires (usually 30-day validity).

There may be inevitable delays in securing interviews and appointments at your local visa application center to provide your biometric and other information. This, in turn, is likely to delay the formal submission of the visa application. We suggest that you make direct enquiries with the center you plan to use, in terms of appointment availability. You should be aware that there are a number of centers that have temporarily closed.

Unfortunately, there is currently a lack of guidance on the requirement to arrive in Mexico in time to collect the Residence Visa within the timeframe granted to do so. The Mexican government is aware of the difficulty created by travel restrictions, but we are still awaiting guidance on this specific point.

It may be that the Residence Visa exchange timeframe to collect your resident card may be extended if you cannot collect it in time. You can check the INM help line at 800 004 6264 or send an email to atenciontelefonica@inami.gob.mx.

If you need additional help, you can contact me at dianac.lawyer@gmail.com.

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