This past summer, our Residente Temporal (RT) visas were set to expire and up for renewal. Given our long-term plans, we decided to renew for an additional 3 years. All immigration procedures are carried out by the department of immigration, which is the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM). For the purpose of this post, I will only speak to the RT visa since there are other visa types (i.e., work, student, humanitarian, adoption, etc.). As you may recall from our Mexican Immigration & Visas – Finishing Process post, the initial issuance of the RT visa only allows you to obtain a one year resident card. After one year, you have the option to renew for 1, 2 or 3 years. You can only have a RT visa for up to 4 years, after which time you either have to convert to a Residente Permanente (RP) visa or leave the country. Though anecdotal, some people have reported that certain INM offices did not give them the option for a 1, 2 or 3 year renewal and only let them renew for one year at a time. Additionally, if you are a Mexican, married to a Mexican, have Mexican family ties, etc. the length of your initial RT visa issuance could vary.
You essentially have one of two choices to complete your renewal. You can either do it yourself or hire someone (i.e., immigration attorney, expat/foreigner service company, etc.) to do it for you. We chose the latter primarily to save time. However, we were fully capable of completing the process ourselves should we have chosen this route. We ended up utilizing the services of Chapala Law out of Chapala, Jalisco since they came highly recommended and are a well established business in the area with very reasonable prices. Frankly, there is no right or wrong answer here. Do what makes the most sense for you. If you choose to do the renewal process on your own, here is what you need to know. The procedure to get your visa card renewed is formally known as “Expedición de documento migratorio por renovación,” which roughly translates to “Issuance of immigration document by renewal.” Quite self-explanatory.
You will need ALL the below to complete the renewal. It is important to note that you will NOT need to re-provide proof of income/assets (economic solvency) when you renew your RT visa. I would strongly encourage you to go to the INM office you intend on using and speaking to an INM agent in-person to confirm not only what documentation is needed but also the different steps of the process. There is a decent chance that there will be at least one person in your INM office who speaks English considering they are also dealing with a good number of foreigners and not just Mexicans. If the latter is not the case, then I would suggest taking a Spanish speaking friend or a hired interpreter with you.
- Physical RT visa card
- Formato Básico (Basic Form)
- Formato para solicitar trámite migratorio de estancia (form to request immigration procedure to stay)
- Payment of visa fees* (see below)
- Three infantil (infant) sized (2.5cm x 3cm) photographs. Two of the front and one of right profile of the face with a white background, forehead & ears uncovered, without earrings and without glasses.
- Letter in Spanish requesting renewal of the visa (this may or may not be needed)
*As a side note, in order to make the payments, the INM officer should provide a form to you and with it you can go to any bank to make the payment and then return to the INM office with the receipt. Otherwise, you will need to use the online form.
Please bear in mind that your personal experience may vary a little from the process outlined below based on your local INM office. But overall, the process should be fairly identical across all INM offices in México.
Foremost, you cannot initiate the renewal process any earlier than 30 days prior to the expiration of your existing visa card. Like with other immigration procedures, you have to complete the renewal at your local INM office based on your address. México has 32 Delegation INM Offices (one for each of the 31 states plus Ciudad de México), in addition to satellite offices in each state. Unfortunately, the aforementioned link only lists the main offices and not the satellite offices. I would suggest either contacting the main INM office in your respective state, doing a Google search or simply asking locals if a satellite office exists in your town, if the main office is not convenient. Luckily, we didn’t have to go all the way into Guadalajara since there is a satellite office in Chapala, which is about 20 minutes from our house. Second, and I cannot stress this enough, do not let your RT visa card expire. If you do, you will either need to leave the country to start over or initiate a regularization process which can be complex, lengthy and add to your costs. Do yourself a favor and set a reminder on your calendar for 30 days out from expiration of your visa card.
You will need to submit all the documents mentioned above at your local INM office. The receiving INM agent will let you know if anything is missing or needs additional clarification. Upon submittal, you will receive a document with two numbers (one is called “NUT” and other is called pieza). Separately, you will be sent an e-mail and/or provided on the aforementioned document with a password. The pieza in combination with the password will be used to follow-up online about the status of your application. You will be able to track the progress of your application online as well as see any notifications of any additional information/clarification being requested. Ultimately, you will receive a notification online stating that your application has been approved (the status may not necessarily read “approved” but something to that effect) and the next step will be to go to the INM office. The time frame of this will depend on your local INM office and how busy they stay. It can range from weeks to months.
Once you have received the aforementioned approval, you will to to the INM office to request an appointment. Yes, you heard me right! You will need to go to the office to schedule another visit to get fingerprinted. When you go to your scheduled fingerprint appointment, be sure to arrive at least 10 or 15 minutes early and be sure to have your photographs (as described above) with you. At this appointment, you will not only have your fingerprints taken but also sign some documents. From the time our documents were submitted to INM to the time we went into get fingerprinted, approximately 5 to 6 weeks had elapsed at that point. Additionally, they took our old RT visa cards but we had the documents (with the NUT number) mentioned above as proof that our applications were in process.
After your fingerprint appointment, the card will be printed and ready for pick-up at the INM office. You will either be able to check the status of this online or perhaps the INM agent will tell you when to come back to the office. Please keep in mind that in busier INM offices the times can vary greatly ranging from several weeks up to several months. In the event that you need to leave the country during this time, you will need to obtain special permission from INM allowing you to leave & re-enter without compromising your visa process. It took close to 2 weeks for us to receive our physical cards.
From beginning to end, the process took us close to 2 months since the Chapala INM office is one of the busier ones. On the bright side, because we used the services of Chapala Law we ONLY had to go to the INM office twice and that was to be fingerprinted and pick-up the cards, everything else was handled for us.
As of January 1, 2018, renewal fees have changed and increased from 2017.
- One year renewal – $3,961 MXN
- Two year renewal – $5,936 MXN
- Three year renewal – $7,518 MXN
We are happy that we applied for and were granted a 3 year renewal on our RT visas – one less thing to worry about each year. Though the renewal costs can add up, especially for a family of 4, I would highly recommend the 3 year renewal since it’s significantly cheaper than renewing every year and saves some time & effort. Overall, if you have your documentation in order and are prepared then the renewal process is quite straight-forward and relatively pain free. And don’t forget to have a little patience, be polite and always have a smile It goes a long way! A little Spanish doesn’t hurt either!
*Important Note – Laws can change often in México, including those around immigration and visas. Though I will do my best to update this post with any new relevant information, I would highly encourage you to check the various INM inks referenced in this post on a regular basis to see if there have been any changes, updates, new requirements, etc. Again, the responsibility of what México requires of immigration and visas lies on you, in addition to following their outlined process.