The new Migration Law (Ley de Migración) was published on May 25th, 2011. It couldn’t be in effect because this law only managed general concepts and principles about the migration phenomenon in Mexico, the specific procedures where meant to be published in a different instrument. The Federal Government was supposed to issue those specifics within the next 6 months trough a document known as Regulation of the Migration Law (Reglamento de la Ley de Migración). This never happened on time, instead the Mexican Government waited until September 28th, 2012 to issue the regulation (10 months late). According to the publication of this regulation, it should go into effect 30 working days after the publication (November 12th, 2012). Waiting a bit more for these laws to enter into effect is fine, however not everything was resolved. There is an important amount of unsolved situations where the regulations simply mention: “… it will be solved in accordance to the criteria established in the guidelines of general character issued by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs…” Even when these regulations cleared a lot of rumors about some new immigration rules, there are a lot of doubts about its application due to these unpublished and therefore unknown guidelines. The same happens with the cost of some government duties, which will be unknown until the proper modifications are made to the corresponding laws.
The truth is that the Migration Law is beneficial in most aspects to foreigners. Even when some NGOs have claimed that these law and it’s regulations required a deeper insight in the migratory phenomenon in Mexico, with special emphasis on immigrants coming to Mexico temporarily to make their way until the USA. This law and it’s regulation is somewhat of a small advance in the migration problem solution, there is still a lot to do, though.
A lot of changes are going to happen in the following weeks, on one side the new Federal Administration is taking place on December 1st, 2012, a lot of personnel changes in the INM’s (National Institute of Migration in Spanish) are expected. We hope that next Commissioner of this institute will be a person with a lot of knowledge and experience in the field. Not as in the Mexican Congress, where the Senate, appointed brand new Senator Ana Gabriela Guevara (A former Olympic medalist, retired from competitions in 2008), as its new President. This, of course, caused a lot of critics, due to her inexperience and lack of knowledge of the migratory problem.
It is also important to mention that, as clarified by the Ministry of Interior, this law and its regulation, does not change anything related to the visa policy that the Mexican Government has had during the last years, that is, citizens from countries requiring visa to enter Mexico, still require it. The only difference in these cases will be in the procedures.
But why do I say it is, in general terms, beneficial to all foreigners? There are several reasons; most of them have to do with long process, corruption and yearly renewals. All foreigners that have spent a few years in Mexico and that are reading this, will perfectly understand how upsetting and what a loose of time is to perform any type of application before the INM. Below, a few comments on some positive changes:
– No person, including Government Officials, is authorized to require foreigners to demonstrate their legal status. Only INM officials are authorized to do this and in some concrete cases, the Federal Police when acting in coordination with the INM.
– It gives special importance to Human Rights and peruses the family union. Having a Mexican child or a Mexican spouse or even a person to whom the Foreigner lives and has a personal tide with, will be sufficient reason to authorize a legal status (though the regulations explain this only as a “woman – man relationship”, it does not say anything about same sex couples).
– Improves efficiency and honesty among Migratory Officials by implementing a very precise selection process that includes “confidence tests” and tough penalties to those failing to accomplish this new regulation.
– It makes a clear difference between visas and migratory documents, which in big terms, visa will be a document issued abroad, while the migratory document is issued in Mexico.
– The expiration of the migratory documents and the visas will depend more on the type of legal condition granted. There will be documents that will be valid for one year and up to ten years.
– Owning real estate, a trust (tied to real estate) or having an investment in Mexico is a big reason to obtain a visa or a migratory document.
– Implements a scoring system, which will serve to those foreigners looking for the Permanent Resident status and whom don’t accomplish the requirements to obtain it by accomplishing different possibilities. Each possibility will give some “points” to the foreigner, and when a certain amount of points is reached, the foreigner will be able to access the permanent status.
– Timeframe for migratory document process is 20 working days.
– Timeframe for visas is 10 working days.
– Wider limits to perform legal activities in Mexico.
– Transition from old law to new law is better explained and people holding valid FM3 (Documento de No Inmigrante) will be able to move to a Temporary Resident status and people holding FM2 (Documento de Inmigrante), depending on the exact type, will be able to move to Temporary or Permanent Resident.
There is still a lot to learn from these new regulations, and we still need to know the so-called “guidelines” to understand better the criteria followed by the authority. All in all we can say it will make things better and easier for Foreigners.
Gustavo Calderón, is a Lawyer and University Professor in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, with more than 10 years of experience in Corporate Law and Real Estate Law. Mr. Calderón focuses his practice towards serving the expatriate population of the Riviera Maya.