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How to Get a Work Permit in Mexico

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As more people from other countries decide to make Mexico their new home and work in the country, I thought it might be a good time to let you know how to get a work permit in Mexico.

First, to receive a Mexican visa with a permit to perform paid activities, you will need to provide the immigration authority with a signed employment contract from your employer that shows you will have a paid job in Mexico. You need to get a job offer before you can apply for permission to work. This requirement is satisfied with the presentation of a letter of employment, with a full description of the work and the salary that will be issued by a Mexican company, to the National Immigration Institute (INM), the Mexican authority responsible for the work visa process.

The application for a work permit must be made in the state where the company has its headquarters, or a main branch of its business. Your employer must have a certificate issued by the immigration authority that establishes its legal existence and normal operation.

Once your future employer makes the request, they will be issued a letter of authorization that you can take to the Mexican Embassy or consulate office in your country to schedule an interview to verify your identity and the reasons for your entry into Mexico.

Finally, you will receive a Mexican visa that will allow you to travel to Mexico within 180 calendar days to obtain your permit to perform paid activities.

Regulations change quickly, and exceptions may be possible, so I recommend that you first visit a Mexican consulate in your home country.

In those cases where a Mexican company wants to contract a foreigner for a period of less than 180 days, it must request a Temporary Visitor Visa with a permit to perform paid activities.

Once you enter the country, you must go to the National Institute of Migration to get the migratory document that will prove your legal immigration status. You may apply for your visa(s) in person, or you may hire a representative to advise you, make the application on your behalf and do all of the paperwork.

You should know that a Temporary Visitor Visa with a permit to perform paid activities is not subject to renewal, so once the 180 days are over you must leave the country. A Temporary Resident Visa, however, can be renewed for a period of up to four years. If your goal is to seek long-term residency in Mexico, or to become a Mexican Citizen, you should apply for a Permanent Resident Visa.

There are three exceptions when it is possible to obtain residency without the need to leave the country, even if the foreigner has entered as a tourist:

1. If the foreigner has a direct family relationship with a foreign resident in Mexico (spouse, parents or children)

2. If the foreigner has a direct family bond with a Mexican (spouse, father or children)

3. If the foreigner marries a Mexican during the period of stay authorized by the National Institute of Migration as a tourist (180 days)

You can stay in Mexico as a tourist during the work permit application process, but once the permit has been processed, you must travel outside of Mexico to the Mexican Consulate of your choice to have the consular interview. If the 180-day period as a tourist expires without resolution of your work permit application, you can continue to reside in Mexico until the resolution of the visa application.

If you are in Mexico and your immigration status is irregular, either because your immigration document has expired or because you never had one, as a first step it will be necessary to regularize your immigration status and later request authorization to work.

It is important to know that, according to Mexican law, foreigners can perform all types of jobs, as long as they are legal and honest. For some jobs, they will have to present and validate the proper credentials, degrees, titles and certifications to the National Institute of Migration. This means you can have as many jobs as you want, as long as they are in your field, and you can work anywhere in the country, not only in the state where you first applied for a job.

I encourage you to get a work permit before starting work in Mexico. If you get caught working illegally, you may be forced to spend some nights at the local immigration office until you get legal advice. You can also be deported from the country and subjected to fines.

Remember, knowledge is power.