Residence Visa Applications

Information about the application procedure when applying for a Mexican residence visa…

In general it is advisable to apply for the appropriate residence visa at a Mexican embassy or consulate abroad before arriving in Mexico. The process tends to be faster than doing it via the immigration authorities upon arrival in Mexico.

This visa – once issued – is pasted into the applicant´s passport. Upon arrival in Mexico the applicant has 30 days to go to the immigration authorities to apply for a temporary or permanent resident´s card, depending on the visa that was issued. This process is known as canje, or change.

The process for applying for canje is similar to applying for residence visas from within Mexico except that it is much quicker, and the outcome is not in doubt as the visa has already been issued.

Application Procedure

The basic procedure for applying for residence visas – or when applying for a canje when the visa was requested and issued abroad - is as follows:

  1. Visit the Immigration Department office for information and instructions as to the process for the specific type of visa required. They will provide full instructions depending on the individual situation.
  2. Fill in the online application form. At this point it is important to specify the type of visa being applied for under Que deseo hacer (the canjear o reponer documento migratorio option should be selected if the visa was previously issued abroad). An application number (NUE) is generated by the system.
  3. Then, the Pago de Derechos (initial payment) must be printed. This payment is not the cost of the visa; it is for the application only.
  4. Pay the fee at a bank using the printed document. By law no payments of any kind may be taken at immigration offices. The payment should be made at least three days before continuing with the application at the immigration office to give the payment time to be recorded. This first payment does not guarantee that a visa will be issued.
  5. A response will normally be received approximately two to three months after submission of the application, supporting documentation and payment. Progress can be followed on the website using the NUE. It is usually advisable to visit the immigration office to check on progress in person after approximately two months.
  6. Once the visa has been approved a time and date will be given for an appointment to visit the immigration offices. A photo and fingerprints will be taken. The visa (in the form of a plastic resident’s card) will normally be ready three days later.

In certain, non-standard, cases, it may be necessary for the applicant to attend an interview. This may arise if a visa was refused in the past, or of there are discrepancies between information on the application form and supporting documentation submitted.

Different types of visas have different documentary requirements. Exactly what documents are required should be checked on the INM website and confirmed with Immigration staff during the first visit.


The successful applicant is also assigned a CURP (Clave Única de Registro de Población). This is similar to a National ID number, and the number is displayed on the residence card.This number is used for certain other official processes once the immigration procedures are complete (for example applying for a tax code, Registro Federal de Causantes/Contribuyentes - RFC).

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