International immigration has been a constant concern for all governments and societies in the international community and for academics who study legislative affairs. The Mexican migration regime is particularly affected by four large flows of migrants, as a country of origin, transit, destination and repatriation. This is mainly explained by the geopolitical position of Mexico's neighbour to the north with the largest economy in the world, which fosters the transit and origin of migrants from southern countries. Mexico, in turn, is also a destination country attracting large flows of immigrants from South and Central America. In recent years, Mexico has also seen the repatriation of Mexican nationals mainly from the United States, who have been reunited with their families after leaving them behind to seek job opportunities abroad, unable to take them with them.

The main objective of Mexico's policy on migrants is to foster economic and social development in the country. The global framework of reference and the main focus of the Mexican migration law is respect for and protection of human rights, family cohesion and national development. The latter is the main reason for the flexibility the Mexican immigration regime offers business visitors and foreign nationals travelling into the country for work purposes. All this is consistent with the liberal principles of the national policy.

The Migration Law provides for three main categories of stay – visitor, temporary resident and permanent resident. Each immigration category is determined by the foreign national's length of stay, activities to develop in Mexico and his or her purpose. In some instances, these categories can be defined based on humanitarian criteria and international solidarity.

i Visa categories


Visitor without permission to engage in lucrative activities

This status authorises foreign nationals to travel or stay in national territory for 180 consecutive days without permission to perform activities subject to remuneration in the country, applicable to those who wish to come to Mexico for tourism or business.

Visitor with permission to engage in lucrative activities

This status authorises a foreigner to take up a job offer made by any authority, or academic, artistic, sporting or cultural institution for remuneration. This status also allows the foreigner to perform remunerated activities for seasonal periods in terms of any inter-agency agreements signed with foreign entities. It is granted for uninterrupted periods of up to 180 days.

Regional visitor

This status authorises foreign nationals or residents of neighbouring countries to cross the border with the right of unlimited entries and departures into and from Mexico, provided that no stay exceeds seven days, but it does not grant permission to receive remuneration in the country.

Visitor border worker

Foreign nationals of countries bordering Mexico may, with this authorisation, remain for up to one year in the Mexican states determined by the Ministry. The visitor border worker will have permission to engage in lucrative activities within the country, but only in the specific job they have been offered. They may enter and leave the country as many times as they wish.

Visitor for humanitarian reasons

This status covers the following foreign nationals:

  1. victims or witnesses of a crime committed in national territory;
  2. unaccompanied immigrant children or adolescents, in terms of Article 74 of the Migration Law;
  3. those who have requested political asylum, recognition of their refugee status or complementary protection from the state until their migratory status is resolved; and
  4. foreign nationals whose entry or regularisation in the country is required for humanitarian or public interest causes, in which case they will have permission to work in exchange for payment.
Visitor for adoption purposes

This status authorises foreign nationals linked to a process of adoption in Mexico to stay in the country until a court decision is made. In the event of a positive decision, the foreigner may stay in the country for the registration of the birth of the adopted child or the registration of the adopted adolescent in the Civil Registry, and remain until the child's passport is issued and every necessary procedure to guarantee the departure of the child or adolescent from the country is completed.

Temporary residents

Temporary resident

Status as a temporary resident confers upon the foreign national the right to remain in the country for up to four years with the possibility of obtaining a permit to engage in lucrative activities in the country, subject to a job offer being made, with the right to enter and leave the country at will and the right to preserve the family unit.

Temporary resident student

Foreign nationals with this authorisation may remain in Mexico for the duration of courses, studies, research or training projects in educational institutions within the national education system to obtain qualifications, with the right to enter and leave the country at will and with permission to engage in lucrative activities in the case of college-level, graduate and research students.

Permanent residents

Foreign nationals with permanent resident status may remain in the national territory indefinitely and engage in lucrative activities in the country. Permanent residents are entitled to the preservation of the family unit, so they can enter with, or subsequently request the entry of, the following family members: spouses, parents, brothers and sisters, and long-term partners, who may also reside in national territory under the same conditions of stay and with the privileges granted under this status.

ii Legislation and policy

Mexican nationality, including acquisition of Mexican citizenship by naturalisation or registration, is governed by the Mexican Constitution and by the Nationality Act. The Mexican Constitution has set provisions to regulate foreign nationals and immigration. These precepts are classified as fundamental and restrictive.

Fundamental principles are addressed in Articles 1, 11, 30 and 33 of the Constitution. Regarding restrictive provisions:

  1. policy affairs are contemplated in Articles 8, 9 and 33;
  2. transit affairs are contemplated in Article 11;
  3. the right to have audience is contemplated in Article 14;
  4. military, police and public security; the military and the active air force; naval and civil aeronautical matters; and concessions, employment and government affairs are contemplated in Article 32; and
  5. property rights are contemplated in Article 27.

The foundation of Mexico's immigration regime is the Migration Law, which regulates any issue that affects the population in terms of its volume, structure, dynamics and distribution within the national territory, and which aims to enable every person's equal and just participation in society to foster economic and social development. It also governs the entry, stay and departure of foreign nationals and grants Mexico's Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs the authority to oversee immigration functions.

The law is implemented by the Migration Law Regulations, the Guidelines for Immigration Procedures and the General Guidelines for the Issuance of Visas by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among other provisions, by means of which officials of Mexico's National Immigration Institute (INM) and consular authorities determine the requirements to be fulfilled in connection with immigration applications, response periods within which immigration authorities may render a resolution, representation acts and immigration forms.

Mexico has established in its Constitution and, in particular, in the Migration Law, the legal definition of persons not considered to be nationals, and established the terms and conditions for such persons' admission, stay and departure. Foreigners are subject to these legal terms and conditions when they enter, remain in and leave the country, under denominated conditions of stay.

The immigration and naturalisation laws and regulations are supplemented by numerous legislative and administrative decrees.

The Migration Law focuses on the protection of foreign nationals, who will be granted access to education and health public or private services regardless of their immigration status. The judges and officials of the Civil Registry shall not deny to immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, the authorisation of acts of civil status or the issuance of certificates related to birth, recognition of children, marriage, divorce and death.

Mexicans have the right to preserve their family unit, so they are able to enter with, or eventually request the entry of the following foreigners: spouses, parents, brothers and sisters, and long-term partners.

Foreign nationals, regardless of their condition of stay and without permission from the INM, will be able to acquire, personally or by proxy, fixed or variable assets and make bank deposits, as well as urban real estate and real rights over them, with due regard to the restrictions set out in Article 27 of the Constitution and other applicable provisions.

iii The immigration authorities

Mexico is a federal republic based on a congressional system comprising 32 states. Its immigration system is overseen at a federal level by the Ministry of the Interior, the INM and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Ministry of the Interior2 is responsible for formulating and directing the migratory policy in the country with consideration of the legislative and judicial branches opinion as well as federal entities and civil society. It is within its faculty to determine quotas, requirements and procedures for the issuance of visas and the authorisation of immigration statuses for foreign nationals in the country.

The INM is an administrative decentralised branch of the Ministry of the Interior, responsible for the execution, control and supervision of all acts conducted by migratory authorities in the country. It has authority over the entry and exit of foreign nationals at Mexican ports of entry and is responsible for adjudicating applications for foreign nationals who require advance permission from the immigration authorities, including employment authorisations and visa issuance authorisations for nationals of countries that are identified for heightened security scrutiny. The INM also adjudicates applications for extensions and changes of immigration status and applications for permanent residence. The INM has 32 regional delegations throughout Mexico. These regional offices may also have local sub-offices.3

Visa applications can be made through the INM's offices when the application stems from the right to preserve the family unit, job offer, or for humanitarian reasons. While applications requested on the grounds of a job offer from a Mexican entity are the exclusive responsibility of the INM in Mexico, consular offices abroad are empowered to authorise applications requested on the grounds of economic solvency, invitation by a Mexican entity (private or public), investment, real estate ownership, retirement, family unit and humanitarian reasons. The consular offices may also request that the INM reviews its approval if it considers that the applicant does not meet the legal requirements, presents false or altered documents or solid grounds are found to revise an application, in which case the INM ultimately will resolve the issue without liability to the consular office.

The issuance of visas is governed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs4 through its diplomatic posts around the world. It is also responsible for promoting, jointly with the Ministry of the Interior, international immigration instruments, and to receive, process and respond to visa applications, in accordance with applicable laws, as well as adjudicating applications for Mexican citizenship by naturalisation.

iv Exemptions and favoured industries

Preferences are granted to:

  1. foreigners who are scientists and technicians who want to engage in research or teaching in disciplines not covered or inadequately covered by Mexicans;
  2. immigrant investors;
  3. tourists; and
  4. parents or spouses of Mexicans.

The law also provides facilities for temporary entry to foreigners in exceptional conditions as refugees and political asylees, and persons in compliance with international treaties; admission and residence for foreigners who marry or have children who were born in the country; or assimilation to researchers, scientists and foreign technicians.

A quota system for work-related visas has been delayed from coming into effect. According to the law, the deadline for the guideline publication was 31 December 2012, and the quota system was to come into effect by 1 January 2013. However, since the guidelines for the practical application of the system have not yet been published, there is no specific information on the new quota system, and an updated launch date for its publication has not been announced.

Regardless of the specific mechanisms provided in the law, in day-to-day practice, the immigration authorities study each particular case and analyse the different backgrounds and grant the authorisation that is most appropriate. For example, if the applicant is ill and the purpose of entry to Mexico is medical treatment, the authorities will study the particular case and most likely grant a temporary residence visa for the required period.

In terms of the provisions set out in Article 4 of the Migration Law, the INM will be assisted by government officers from the Federal Public Administration qualified to deal with migration-related matters, and the INM will be responsible for determining the regulations, methods and technical procedures to administer the information provided by the government officers, which will ultimately be registered in the Lists of Migration Control with relevant information about the entry, departure and permanence of nationals and foreigners. For instance, immigration authorities might deny an entry permit if there is proof of a criminal record in these lists, or if the foreign national fails to declare truthful information and the authorities recognise that situation.


Mexico is the country with the most free trade agreements in the world, including 12 free trade agreements (FTAs) with 46 different countries and several other bilateral and multilateral treaties on commerce that have been signed within the framework of international organisations, such as the World Trade Organization, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the Latin American Integration Association. These commercial agreements grant Mexico access to 60 per cent of global gross domestic product.

Among the aforementioned FTAs signed and ratified by Mexico, the following agreements contemplate waivers of visa requirements and the temporary entry of people on business status to promote flexibility within the participant countries:

  1. 1994 – North American FTA (NAFTA);
  2. 1995 – G-3 FTA (Colombia and formerly Venezuela);
  3. 1999 – FTA with Chile;
  4. 2000 – FTA with Israel;
  5. 2000 – FTA with the European Union;
  6. 2001 – FTA with the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland);
  7. 2004 – FTA with Uruguay;
  8. 2005 – FTA with Japan;
  9. 2012 – FTA with Peru;
  10. 2013 – FTA with Central America (Costa Rica, Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua);
  11. 2015 – FTA with Panama; and
  12. 2016 – FTA with the Pacific Alliance.


Mexico is a signatory, along with Canada and the United States, to NAFTA, under which Member States have agreed to streamline the temporary entry of business persons, including business visitors, inter-company transferees, professionals and traders, who are nationals of the NAFTA Member States. Part Five of this FTA signed by Canada, the United States and Mexico in 1994 contains a specific chapter (Chapter XVI) regarding temporary entry for business persons.

Chapter XVI establishes that the immigration authorities of each party shall grant temporary entry to a business person seeking to engage in a business activity, without requiring that person to obtain an employment, provided that the business person otherwise complies with existing immigration measures applicable to temporary entry, on presentation of the following:

  1. proof of citizenship;
  2. documentation demonstrating how the business person will be engaged and describing the purpose of entry; and
  3. evidence demonstrating that the proposed business activity is international in scope and that the business person is not seeking to enter the local labour market.

No party may, as a condition for temporary entry, require labour certification tests or other procedures of similar effect, or impose or maintain any numerical restriction related to temporary entry.

The recently negotiated United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), signed on 30 November 2018, is yet to be ratified by the each participant member country's congress at the time of writing. There are no relevant changes to the provisions pertaining the temporary entry of people for business purposes to the new negotiated agreement, which is still subject to modifications from each country's congress.


APEC was created in 1989 as a result of the growing economic interdependence in the Asia-Pacific region.

APEC is composed of 21 members: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, the United States and Vietnam.

Mexico became a member of APEC in 1993 with the aim of strengthening its relations with the Pacific Rim economies and to diversify its relations, and also because of the guidelines regarding international commercial negotiations.

The main role of the Committee on Trade and Investment's Business Mobility Group is to facilitate the mobility of business persons among APEC economies in a secure way. To achieve this mobility, the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) was created. The ABTC allows business persons to enter APEC economies (as part of the programme) by showing this card and a passport without need of a visa. The ABTC is valid for three years and allows business people to remain in the country for up to three months (Mexico grants 180 days).

With the ABTC, business persons will be given special treatment when they travel abroad through the Member States (e.g., there are lanes designated solely for ABTC holders at airports).

Candidates that can obtain the ABTC in Mexico are:

  1. people who hold a Mexican passport;
  2. people who travel for business purposes (investment activities and commerce);
  3. people who do not have a criminal record; and
  4. people who need to travel within the region.

All the APEC economies are part of the ABTC scheme, although Canada, Russia and the United States are transitional members.

The ABTC is issued by the government authorities in each country.


The Mexican Migration Law has been in force for more than six years since its enactment in November 2012. In the face of the trend for taking protectionist measures that has arisen in other parts of the world during 2017, including the Trump administration's negative views on foreigners entering the United States, Mexico has maintained an open borders policy towards immigration.

Some of the major changes in recent years to the migratory framework occurred in October 2014 to the General Guidelines for the Issuance of Visas by the Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs. These changes affect the entry of foreigners in all visa categories – visitors, temporary residence and permanent residence applicants – as the Guidelines provide greater flexibility for foreign nationals applying for work authorisation, allowing a longer period during which to contact a consulate after a work authorisation has been approved by the INM. The amounts needed to demonstrate economic solvency for certain categories of visitors and temporary residents have been reduced and students may apply for dependent family members to join them in Mexico as temporary residents.

The financial thresholds that allow foreigners to request a visa under any category on the grounds of economic solvency or retired living have been lowered. For visitors, including business visits of less than 180 days, the minimum average monthly income has been reduced by one-third and the average monthly bank balance has been reduced by 40 per cent. For temporary residence applicants, the average monthly income has been lowered by 25 per cent and the average monthly bank balance by 75 per cent. For permanent residence applicants, the average monthly income remains the same, but the average monthly bank or investment accounts to demonstrate retired living have been lowered by 20 per cent.

In addition, visitors must demonstrate that they meet the average financial thresholds for the previous three months, compared with six months under previous regulations.

In May 2016, another structural reform took place regarding the visa-waiving programmes, where Mexico expanded the visa-waiving benefits to those nationals who hold a permanent immigration condition from the United Kingdom, the United States, the countries belonging to the Schengen Area and Canada and Japan. The Pacific Alliance member countries (Chile, Colombia and Peru) have also been recently added to this list.

A new federal administration has been in office since 1 December 2018 as a result of the general elections held in the same year for the office of president and both chambers of Congress. It is the first time in the history of Mexico that a left-wing candidate has won the presidential elections. In addition, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's political party Morena has an absolute majority in Congress and maintains solid approval ratings that range from 67 per cent to 80 per cent after three months in office.

In this context and with the political stability that stems from it, the new administration announced the Migration Policy Programme 2018–2024, which emphasises the protection of human rights and the development of activity in Mexico's southeastern region and Central America, as the axis for the new administration. Further, unlike his two predecessors, who were predominantly experienced in police and national security affairs, the new head of the INM, Tonatiuh Guillén López, who took office on 1 December 2018, has a noteworthy career and experience in international migratory affairs. After three months in office, the new immigration administration has a coherent programme that has shifted its focus from security, border protection and deportation of migrants to the protection of human rights.

Coincidentally, a new migratory phenomenon began in 13 October 2018 with a large caravan of migrants departing from Central America towards the United States and Mexico to seek asylum, escaping from violence and poverty in their countries of origin. This large influx of migrants was soon replicated, and led to the first immigration challenge for the new administration, which responded by issuing 11,716 humanitarian visas to migrants registering for asylum, granting them the temporary right to work.


i Work permits

Visitors with permission to engage in lucrative activities and temporary residents who will receive remuneration from a Mexican source need to obtain advance authorisation from the INM before entering Mexico. While visitor status is intended for a maximum of 180 days, the temporary residence visa allows foreign nationals to stay in the country for a maximum of four years; the temporary residence visa can initially be obtained just for one-year term and then be renewed for the total length of the assignment (as long as it does not exceed four years in total). Any company extending a job offer to a foreign national needs to be registered with the INM.

Advance authorisation is typically required if the foreign national engages in 'remunerated activities', which Mexican immigration law defines as activities that are compensated from a Mexican source. Employment is deemed to be remunerative where the foreign national will be directly hired and compensated by a Mexican employer, or will be transferred to a home country employer's branch or affiliate in Mexico and will be paid by the Mexican affiliate.

Every foreign national intending to work in Mexico, and receive his or her income from within the country, regardless of the length of stay, must obtain advance authorisation from the INM before entering Mexico.

After the INM grants advance approval for the foreign national's activities in Mexico (such as employment), the foreign national applies for the appropriate immigration permit at a Mexican diplomatic post. Upon entry into Mexico, applicants for a temporary residence visa are required to register with a local office of the immigration agency to conclude the process and obtain the visa.

The process to obtain a temporary residence visa can be initiated directly in a Mexican consulate only if the salary of the applicant is paid in full from the home country, the length of the assignment is intended to be longer than 180 days and a company legally established in Mexico invites the foreign national to the country. Once the authorisation is granted by the Mexican consulate, the foreigner needs to register at the INM in Mexico within 30 calendar days of their entry into Mexico. This visa category is appropriate for foreign nationals who are transferred to Mexico to work on behalf of an overseas employer.

All foreign nationals who wish to engage in employment in Mexico must be sponsored by a Mexican or an overseas employer. In the latter case, a letter of invitation from a Mexican company or institution will be required.

Common requirements to obtain advance authorisation when there is a job offer in place are as follows:

  1. company registration at the INM;
  2. an application form, which must be completed and submitted directly through the INM website;
  3. a valid passport;
  4. a letter from the Mexican sponsoring employer describing the foreign national's job title, duties, place of employment, compensation and the locations in Mexico where the foreign national will perform the job duties;5
  5. the sponsoring employer's corporate documents, such as certified copies of the articles of incorporation and amendments thereof;
  6. a copy of the Mexican company's most recent tax statement, and if the sponsoring employer is a foreign entity, a copy of the registration in the National Register of Foreign Investment;
  7. a copy of the photographic identification of the legal representative of the Mexican company;
  8. a basic application form duly completed; and
  9. an application fee.

Recently, the INM has been conducting more frequent visits to companies to verify that the information provided for pre-authorisation is correct and that the company exists and is operational. For this reason, companies should always have on hand documentation such as:

  1. a list of employees with their nationalities.
  2. files of their foreign employees with all their documentation (passports, migratory documents, contracts); and
  3. corporate registration.

Visitor without permission to engage in lucrative activities

As previously noted, short-term stays are available to foreign nationals entering Mexico on business visits. Nationals of designated countries may enter Mexico on a visa-exempt basis for business visits or for tourism trips of up to 180 days. Foreign nationals entering Mexico to work, provided that their salaries will remain paid by the home country and the period of stay will not exceed 180 days, may do so under the business visitor visa and will be deemed as visitors without permission to engage in lucrative activities.

If the intention of the foreign national is not to live in Mexico but to remain in the country only for a short period, he or she does not need to request previous authorisation from the immigration authorities; the multiple migratory form (FMM) will be sufficient. This visa applies to business visitors with non-lucrative activities, and is valid for 180 days.

The foreign national may not receive compensation from a source in Mexico, although incidental expenses, such as accommodation, travel and meals, may be paid by a Mexican host company. The foreign national's activities must be directed and overseen by his or her overseas employer; he or she must not be a subordinate in relation to the entity with which he or she is doing business in Mexico.

Nationals of designated countries may be eligible for a business permit valid for business visits of up to 180 days.

The authorised period of stay in Mexico with the new FMM form is 180 days. It is available at the port of entry for citizens of the following countries: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong,6 Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao,7 Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom, and legal residents of the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Nationals from different countries may be exempt from a visa requirement provided that:

  1. the applicant is a lawful permanent resident of Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, a country that is a member of the Schengen Area, or a country member of the Pacific Alliance;
  2. the applicant holds a valid US visa;
  3. the applicant holds an ABTC visa under the APEC regime;
  4. the applicant is listed in a certificate as a crew member of the aircraft of arrival; or
  5. the applicant holds a valid seaman's book.

Upon departure from Mexico, the permit holder must surrender the FMM to Mexican immigration authorities at the port of exit. Failure to surrender the permit may jeopardise the foreign national's future entry into Mexico and can also subject him or her to fines.

This immigration form has three purposes:

  1. for temporary or permanent residents who have advance authorisation from the INM or have a consular visa stamped in their passports, the FMM is applicable for a maximum of 30 days upon entry into Mexico, and will have to be exchanged for a temporary or permanent residence card within a 30-day period;
  2. for Mexicans or foreigners with temporary or permanent-stay status, or who are diplomatic staff or aircraft crew members, the FMM is only used for statistical purposes; such persons need only fill in the information in the FMM and deliver it to the immigration officers at the port of entry upon arrival in Mexico; and
  3. for foreigners with visitor or 'condition-of-stay' status, the FMM (along with the passport) is the document that accredits the legal stay of the foreign national, and it will be granted for up to 180 days.

ii Labour market regulation

The current Mexican legislation regulating labour matters with regard to the treatment of foreign nationals is Article 7 of the Federal Work Law: in every company or establishment, 90 per cent of the workers must be Mexican. In the categories of technicians and professionals, workers must be Mexican unless they do not exist in a particular speciality, in which case the employer may temporarily hire foreign workers in a ratio not exceeding 10 per cent of the workforce engaged in that speciality. The employer and the foreign workers have the joint obligation to train Mexican workers in the speciality concerned. Company doctors must be Mexican.

The provisions of Article 7 are not applicable to directors, managers and general managers.

iii Rights and duties of sponsored employees

Mexico, as a member of the International Labour Organization, is obliged to standardise and respect the minimum conditions for both domestic and foreign workers, with a view to developing a comprehensive system of instruments relating to employment and social policy, and to tackle problems arising in the implementation of this system at national level.

According to Article 56 of the Federal Labour Act:

The working conditions in any case cannot be inferior to those established in this Act and shall be proportionate to the importance of services and equal for equal work, without being able to settle differences by race, sex, nationality, age, religious belief or political opinions, except the categories expressly set forth in this Act.


A points-based system for highly qualified foreign nationals aiming to reside in Mexico for an indefinite period will allow candidates to apply for permanent residence status directly. The guidelines for the practical application of this new system have not been published yet, but the system will take into consideration the skills of the applicant, including education level, labour experience and international recognitions.

The permanent residence status per se allows a foreigner to work as long as he or she is older than the minimum legal working age in Mexico (18 years), but it remains important that the foreigner notifies the immigration authorities of any new employment or change of employer within 90 days of the event taking place.


The current immigration regime replaced the previous 40-year-old immigration system. The modifications in recent years, referred to in Section III, demonstrate the legislative efforts to correct and improve the discrepancies between the law and complementary legal provisions, but also strengthen the legal framework in an effort to reduce discretionary interpretation and application of the provisions in the law by public officers at the INM and Mexican consulates. Therefore, it is important to clearly separate these elements.

Efforts have yet to be made regarding the quota and points-based systems, which have been delayed since the enforcement of the Migration Law on account of the complexities inherent in migration flows in the country, the lack of integration within government offices and the absence of solid controls that would permit the smooth integration of these systems; these systems would subsequently affect work and business-related migration, and visa categories and work permits.

Also, the authority formerly vested in the INM has been decentralised and certain powers have been transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry's consular representatives around the world now have the power to authorise and issue visas, whereas previously these were authorised exclusively by the INM.

Additionally, in light of USMCA negotiations, nationals from the United States and Canada will not be affected whatsoever, for the migratory policies that exist to date, are much more beneficial than those set out in the Treaty.

In summary, a considerable number of policies in Mexico have been modernised to reduce bureaucracy and optimise immigration procedures to encourage foreign tourism and business visitors. It is expected, however, that these fundamental measures will become more complete and effective with the new presidential administration, and will significantly reduce the issues that presently affect the immigration regime in the country without detriment to the main objectives and spirit of the law, placing a strong emphasis on the protection of human rights of migrants and the development of the region.


1Enrique Arellano Rincón is general director at Enrique Arellano Rincón Abogados S de RL de CV.

3A list of INM regional delegations and sub-offices is available at www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/Oficinas_y_Horarios.

4A directory of Mexican consulates abroad is available at www.sre.gob.mx/index.php/representaciones/consulados-de-mexico-en-el-exterior.

5The letter must indicate that the foreign national's employment is subject to the authorisation of the INM, and must bear a company letterhead and be written in or translated into Spanish, bearing the signature of an authorised legal representative of the employer; a copy of the signatory's official photographic identification document must be included with the letter.

6Chinese citizens with a passport issued by Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

7Chinese citizens with a passport issued by Macao Special Administrative Region.