Mexico digital nomad visa application process, explained
Thank you for reaching out! I am glad you are enjoying Mexico and that you are deciding to stay. I’ve applied for the Mexico digital nomad visa last year and I forgot to share the steps on the blog. I felt like no one’s really interested in this visa since Mexico already gives 180 days upon entry.
Please feel free to ask questions if I missed anything in this post. You can leave a comment below or send me a direct message on Instagram. Good luck!
Mexico grants all visiting tourists a 180-day visa upon entry. Honestly, this is the first time I’ve been to a country where I am allowed to stay for more than 90 days. As a Philippine passport holder, it’s quite difficult for me to find places that will allow me to stay for longer periods of time.
Since I travel quite often, I did not feel the need to apply for the Mexico digital nomad visa. I made Mexico my base and traveled a lot around Latin America but when the world woke up to a global pandemic in early 2020, I realized that I cannot travel out of the country as much as I could. At first, I was like, sure, I can just cross to Guatemala.
But as you know, my friends, Filipinos like me need a visa to almost every country in the world (including Guatemala) so that wasn’t an option for me. I even need a visa to Mexico as a Philippine passport holder! Yep, I did not enter Mexico freely. I had to go to the embassy to process my 180 days tourist visa. Good thing Mexico is a member of the OECD so I can enter the country using valid Japan, USA, Canada, and Schengen visas. I only have Japan and through the years that I am coming in and out of Mexico, this visa really helped me a lot.
Mexico Digital Nomad Visa, explained
Mexico’s digital nomad visa is not really called the digital nomad visa. This is probably the first article you’ll find on the Internet about it. This visa is called “no lucrativo” (non-lucrative) and is especially for entrepreneurs, individuals, retirees, and digital nomads who can prove that they can financially support themselves by living in Mexico.
It is also referred to as “visa temporal” (temporary resident visa) which allows you to live and work online in Mexico for a year. The first application is the hardest part and you will only get a 1-year visa. This will happen for the next 3 years – you have to renew it yearly and in the third year, you will be eligible to apply for a permanent residency visa (PR).
A non-lucrative visa does not allow you to work in any Mexican company. You must show proof that you are earning from a company outside the country. If you want to work for a Mexican company, then that’s a different ball game with a much-complicated process. This guide is only for digital nomads who which to work and live in Mexico legally.
Should I hire a lawyer for my Mexican temporary resident visa?
Since it was my first time applying, I was advised to hire a lawyer. I have some British and American friends who have been denied a Mexico temporary resident visa and I was really quite shocked since these people are from first world countries. I realized it will be more challenging for me so hiring a lawyer was necessary.
It ended up very costly as opposed to doing it myself but I had to be sure that I will get a visa. Remember that the non-lucrative visa in Mexico is all about showing financial proof. If you are confident with the amount of money you have in the bank, then it wouldn’t be a problem. From being here in Mexico for a long time, I know that things like this are really costly. The Mexican bureaucracy has a lot of loopholes and is always solvable if you have money (and the right contacts, of course).
I feel that you won’t need a lawyer but I’d still like to share the lawyer expenses. Please take note that the visa expenses will be discussed later in this post.
Total legal fees: $7,000 MXN ($357 USD)
The first payment for legal advice is $1,000 MXN. Basically, the lawyer will explain the process of how to apply for the visa like what I am doing now. This fee includes the lawyer booking your visa interview. He/she will also fill out the form for you.
The second payment is $3,000 MXN ($153 USD) for the lawyer to process your visa in the INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración) whichever Mexican city you wish to apply to in Mexico. In my case, the lawyer needed to process it in Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit. This is where I am currently based.
The third payment is for your biometrics/fingerprints at INM which is another $3,000 MXN ($153 USD). Again, these are just the fees for the lawyer. I will discuss the visa fee later.
Now, my friends have asked me a lot if it’s worth it to get a lawyer to apply for your visa. It’s really up to you. I just feel like I need one for my case since I also don’t have a lot of savings but can meet the monthly financial requirement for the non-lucrative visa. If you wish to hire my lawyer, please get in touch with me via e-mail or Instagram and I will connect you to her. She is really great!
Whether you are hiring a lawyer or doing it by yourself, below are the exact same steps to apply for a digital nomad visa in Mexico.
Step 1: Schedule your appointment at a Mexican Embassy outside of Mexico
Unfortunately, if it is your first time applying for this Mexican visa type, you need to do it outside of Mexico. My American and European friends always choose the Embassy in Miami since it’s closer and the fares are cheap. As for me, I need to get a tourist visa to enter the USA so that consulate/embassy is not really an option. I need to find a Mexican embassy in countries where I was free to enter without a visa. My options were Costa Rica, Colombia, and Nicaragua.
Why am I being particular with the embassies? You can also do it in your home country but in my experience (and my friends), Miami and Costa Rica are the most relaxed when it comes to this visa type. I chose Costa Rica not because I want to visit it (believe me, it’s my least favorite country) but because I was witness to the smooth visa processing in this country. I once accompanied my Argentine friends in San Jose, CR who processed their work visa (not non-lucrative) and they told me it was a really fast and easy process.
Of course, since they applied for a different visa type, it might have been easier as their visa is company-sponsored. I saw the dynamics in the Mexican Embassy in CR and they seem to be very chill.
To schedule your appointment, you have to go to the Mexitel website and follow the necessary steps. Last year, I was able to schedule an appointment 3 months ahead of time but as of January 2021, the Embassy in Costa Rica has fewer appointment slots. You can’t even schedule it a month in advance! Since the non-lucrative visa requirements are not that hard to gather, I feel like it’s okay if you schedule your appointment on the same week to secure your slots.
Again, I am only talking about the schedule in Costa Rica. All these depend on the Mexican Embassy you are trying to set an appointment in.
Step 2: Gather the requirements
While you are scheduling your interview appointment in the Mexican Embassy of your choice, you need to ask for the requirements as well. It’s so strange that each consulate/embassy have their own list but so far, I’ve seen very little difference. For those who want to apply in Miami, you may get in touch with Cristian Flores at visas[at]mexicomiami[dot]org. I asked for the Miami requirements just in case and they were kind enough to send it via e-mail.
Meanwhile, here’s what the Embassy of Mexico in Costa Rica required:
- Duly-filled out the visa application form which you can download here. My lawyer filled this out for me.
- Valid passport with a minimum validity of six months. You need to photocopy the first and last page.
- $40 USD visa application fee to be paid on the day of your interview.
- Original and copy of the document proving your legal stay (residence card) or copy of the last entry stamp (in force) to Costa Rica if the foreign person is not a national of the country where you are applying for the visa.
- A passport-sized photograph (4.5 by 3.5 cm) with the face visible, without lenses, in front, in color, and with a white background.
- Original and copy of proof of investments or bank accounts with an average balance equivalent to $27,000 USD or above.
- Proof of monthly salary of $1,625 USD for the last 3 months. In my case, I printed 12 bank statements (for one year). My lawyer suggested it’s better to have the whole year’s financial report as opposed to only 3 months.
- Proof of employment with the letterhead of the company. Of course, if you own your company (like I do), I just showed proof of registry of my online business (off-shore) plus I also asked my regular clients to provide proof of employment for me. Overall, I had 5 recommendations from my employers/clients!
You don’t need to present numbers 5 and 6. You can just need to choose 1. I have a Mexican bank account but since I am not a Mexican national, I need to show proof from my bank in my home country, which is a pain because I already stopped using that bank. 6 months prior to my appointment, I had to make sure that I was depositing $2,000 USD to my Philippine bank account just to make the record.
The tricky thing about this is that I needed to get the bank statement from my bank in the Philippines and ask my family to bring it to the Department of Foreign Affairs to be apostilled (red ribbon). Then my mom sent it to me in Mexico. The document shipping cost $200 USD from Manila to Mexico City (3 working days via FedEx).
Step 3: Go to your appointment
Appointments should not take long but please remember to go at least an hour early. In Costa Rica, there were 2 embassies on Google maps, but one is actually the consulate. I was in the consulate but my interview was in the Embassy! These are two different things so make sure that you have the right address. I was an hour late but they still allowed me to come in, thank God!
The interview is quick as long as you have all the documents needed. You can choose the language of your interview (English or Spanish). Even though I speak fluent Spanish, I chose English just to better understand the technical terms. They will ask the purpose of your visa application and everything relevant about your remote work. Once your visa is approved, the immigration officer will ask you to leave your passport. You need to come back after two days for your passport with the visa stamp.
In my case, I asked if I can get it within 24 hours since I only had 3 days in Costa Rica. They were kind enough to approve my request (I show them flight proof). The key is to ask and you will get!
This visa stamp allows you to enter Mexico. Once back in Mexico, you will have 30 days to process your canje (temporary visa card). See the next step below.
Step 4: Process your residency card in Mexico
You need to process your canje in any INM in Mexico. I did mine in Nuevo Vallarta since I am based here. Below are the steps and requirements on how to apply for your canje:
- Fill out an online form here.
- A letter of request for your canje where you must state that you are already granted a Mexican visa outside of the country. You also need to include the purpose of your stay in Mexico (aka work online).
- Original and copy of the passport.
- Completed FMM form, provided at the port of entry, marked as canje for 30 days. You will get this when you enter Mexico with the granted temporary visa on your passport.
- Filled out formato básico which you can download here.
- Temporary resident fee of $4,271 MXN ($218 USD) for one year. When you renew the following year, the fee is the same but you can request for a 2 or 3-year visa instead of 1. To pay the fee, the Immigration Officer will provide an E5 form. You need to bring it to any Mexican bank to make a payment. In the INM in Nuevo Vallarta, there were lots of banks outside so I did not have to go far.
Once you’ve completed the required documents above, you will be given 2 documents which are (1) NUT; (2) pieza which are just two reference numbers to track your application online. You will normally receive a notification within 10 (working) days to 2 weeks that your canje has been approved.
Step 6: Fingerprints at INM
Once your canje is approved, you must to back to INM to for fingerprint appointment and bring the following:
Three colored photos with white background (2.5 x 3 cm)
You must not be wearing glasses or earrings in the photo. Your hair should also be behind your ears. There are always photo studios in embassies so just do it there since they are more familiar with the format. This will only cost less than $4 USD.
In this last appointment, you will sign documents and have your fingerprints taken. After this, your resident card will be ready within one week. Congratulations, you are now a temporary Mexican resident!
Mexico digital nomad visa frequently asked questions
What are the benefits of having a temporal/digital nomad/non-lucrative visa?
Sure, it does not give you the benefits as a permanent resident or a citizen but if you have a temporary visa, you will be able to apply for a Mexican bank account, apply for wifi under your name, etc. I am still exploring some benefits but I will update this post soon. It’s just so important for me to have a Mexican bank account. As a digital nomad, my income stream comes in different currencies so it’s easier to have a centralized bank account where I am.
What are your tips when applying for a temporary resident visa in Mexico for the first time?
Throughout this process, since this is kind of a financial capability visa for remote workers, I feel like exceeding the amount of salary required by the consulates is always a good trick. As long as you can prove that you can support yourself while living and working remotely in Mexico, there is a low chance for your visa to be denied. The required amount for digital nomads is $1,700 USD per month but I always made sure I put $2,000 USD monthly.
Am I eligible to apply for a Mexico temporary resident visa?
Retirees, digital nomads, and entrepreneurs who can prove they work for a company outside Mexico or has their own business are eligible to apply for a temporary resident visa in Mexico.
Can I apply for a Mexico permanent resident visa right away?
I’m sure you can but the requirements are not the same as the temporary residency application. Most of the people I know were not granted permanent residency (PR) during their first application but I also know a few who were lucky! On your second temporary visa renewal, you can request a 2-3 year visa.
Do I have to prove I have $27,000 on the bank and that I am earning $1,700 per month?
You don’t have to prove both. You can choose if you want to present that you have $27,000 USD in your bank account or 6-months bank statement proving that you are earning $1,7000 USD per month.
If you have more questions, leave them in the comment box below and I’ll add them to this post!