Mark A Ivener, A Law Corporation

Global Immigration: Mexico

A New Mexican Immigration Law has been passed after 40 years under the same law.

On May 24, 2011, President Felipe Calderon of Mexico signed a new Immigration Law, which abolished and superseded the General Population Law that had been in existence for 40 years. The new law involves significant changes to the current immigration regime, although these will not become evident until the implementing regulations are published, which is expected to happen within six months after publication. At this time, therefore, we have a new law in place without specific guidelines for its practical application.

The main objectives of the new law are to protect the human rights of immigrants (making this the first statute that governs immigration matters with a social aim); to regulate a comprehensive immigration policy aligned with current conditions in Mexico; to develop immigration processes focused mainly on demographic and immigration control issues; to cooperate with national security and economic development; and to simplify immigration processes to attract foreign investors.

The new law provides that immigration responsibilities are to be shared with other governments. The law is a federal public order statute applicable to the entire Mexican territory.

Along with nonimmigrants (FM3), nonresident immigrants (FM2), and resident immigrants, the characteristics regulated under the previous immigration status categories will change. New conditions of stay will apply to newly created immigration categories, including:

  • Visitor
  • Temporary Resident
  • Temporary Resident – Student
  • Permanent Resident

Any immigrant, regardless of his or her immigration status, will have guaranteed access to educational and health services, may acquire fixed or variable income securities, will be able to make bank deposits, and will be able to acquire urban real estate assets, subject to the restrictions set forth in article 27 of the Mexican Federal Constitution.

Officers of the Vital Record Offices may not refuse to authorize any legal acts of a civil nature for immigrants, regardless of their immigration status. As a consequence, the requirement to obtain a legal-stay certificate in connection with marriages, divorces, and other administrative procedures will more than likely no longer be needed with the new law.

Also, all foreigners within Mexican territory must:

  • Keep and protect any documents evidencing their identify and immigration status; i.e., fulfill any requirements they need to fulfill in order to continue staying within the Mexican territory in conformity with their immigration status;
  • Show their immigration documents whenever required by immigration authorities;
  • Provide any data and information that the authorities may request;
  • Perform any obligations established in the Federal Constitution and other applicable laws of Mexico;
  • Inform the government any change of marital status, nationality, address, or employer, within 90 days from the occurrence of such event. If they fail to do so, a fine will be imposed ranging from 20 to 100 days of the minimum daily wage;
  • Prove their immigration status when carrying out any legal act before a Notary Public or Public Broker relating to real estate matters; and
  • Not change their immigration status, and leave Mexican territory upon expiration of the authorized period, unless they (a) have a family relationship with a Mexican citizen, or (b) need to stay for humanitarian reasons.

Regardless of applicable timeframes, requirements, and other conditions to be established in the new regulations, the new law provides that:

  • Consular officers must respond to visa applications within 10 business days.
  • Immigration authorities must respond to immigration applications within 20 business days from the date on which all the requirements established in the law, regulations, or other applicable administrative provisions are fulfilled.
  • If the applicant fails to fulfill any of the applicable requirements, the National Immigration Institute shall give notice and grant a 10-business-day period to remedy such failure.
  • The National Immigration Institute must respond to any regularization application within a 30-day period.
  • The National Immigration Institute should be able to grant reentry permits if a process is pending, as will be provided for in the regulations.
  • Visa applications must be filed by the foreigner in person at the consular office.

Even though the new law’s regulations have not yet been issued, the law meets the need of establishing a simpler framework to regulate the processing and issuance of visas and authorizations for the different immigration statuses in Mexico. It is also very focused on the defense of immigrants’ human rights and the preservation of family unity.

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About the Author

Mark A. Ivener, A Law Corporation, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.