New Immigration Law in Mexico

On May 25, 2011, Mexico's new Immigration Law was published in the Official Journal of the Federation and became partially effective as of May 26, 2011. This new law introduces the concept of "Status of Stay" (Condición de Estancia), which refers to the status assigned to a foreigner with intent to reside in Mexico, when the activities he or she carries seeks to carry out so allow, or to the status assigned to a foreigner allowed to reside in Mexico based on humanitarian criteria. Additionally, a residency card was introduced, which in certain aspects substitutes for the immigration documents that have applied to Temporary Visiting Non-Immigrants, Immigrants and Permanent Residents. The new law replaced the more than thirty statuses and characteristics provided by the General Population Law (Ley General de Población) that formerly categorized immigration status as non-immigrant, immigrant and permanent resident, with the following three large "Status of Stay" groups: (i) Visitor, (ii) Temporary Resident, and (iii) Permanent Resident. The new Immigration Law establishes that, in certain cases, foreigners who intend to enter the country must present one of the visas referenced by the new law. It is worth noting that none of these visas grant the right to work for payment, unless such visa states so. On the other hand, the new immigration law restricts the discretion of immigration authorities to refuse the issuance of visas, legal entry into Mexico or the presence of foreigners in Mexican territory. One of the fundamental values adopted in such immigration law is its respect for the human rights of immigrants – nationals and foreigners alike – irrespective of their origin, nationality, gender, ethnicity, age or immigration status. The new law is consistent with the equality between nationals and foreigners set forth in the Mexican Constitution, especially when it comes to the observance of their individual rights. Prior to entering Mexico, it is advisable to seek legal advice to determine applicable visa requirements, and if a visa is required, which type would apply,, including a determination of the correct status of stay that applies to each individual case.

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