Renew your FM3 Visa
UPDATE, DEC 2013: the updated version is below, or click here: How to Renew Your Mexican Residency with Permission to Work (Formerly the FM3)
In November of 2012 big changes were made to Mexican immigration law. The FM3 is no more, but if you have one it can roll over into the non-immigrant visa for work.
At the top of the card it says Residente Temporal and at the bottom Permiso Para Trabajar. This is what the foreigner needs to legally work in Mexico. Fortunately, the renewal process is much simpler than getting the visa in the first place.
You must apply to renew the visa 30 days before your visa expires, and in most cases it will last a year.
In the State of Mexico, where I live, there were massive lines all summer at the Instituto Nacional de Migracion (the National Institute of Migration, or INM). Just getting information took hours. When I went back in November to pick up the card, the long lines were gone.
In your part of Mexico the office may still be busy. I recommend going early in the morning.
Here is the process I recommend you follow to renew your immigration status in Mexico.
1. Visit the INM office
You need to visit the office at least twice, before and after you pay. Among other things, pick up the payment form on the first visit. Once you have the payment form you can pay in cash at any bank with your passport.
Ask for a list of requirements too. Get specifics on the different types of residency, necessary documents and photo specs. Remember that things change without notice.
At the time of writing (Dec. 2013), what you need to apply are:
1. Your old card and passport.
2. A form called formato basico that they will give you at the office. It is simple personal information and you can fill it out there. Make sure you know your height and weight in metric.
3. A letter from your employer stating that you will continue working under the same contract. They should also give you the form they have from the government to hire foreign workers. Unless you are their first foreign worker, they will know what to give you.
4. Copies of your last three pay stubs. On the official list of documents you need it says just one, but they asked me for three. It is better to bring more than fewer documents.
5. A letter from you stating that nothing has changed in your employment situation. Here, you can use mine:
Instituto Nacional de Migración
Subdelegación Local en xxx
Mi nombre es xxx, y mi nacionalidad es xxx. Solicito mi prorroga de calidad de no inmigrante y manifestó que subsisten las condiciones bajo las cuales me fue concedida la característica migratoria, así como confirmo las mismas actividades en las que me encuentra realizando. Soy xxx (your profession).
De antemano, agradezco puedan llevar a cabo mi solicitud de manera positiva.
6. Infantil (passport size) photographs. Get the form from the office. At the time of writing you need two from the front and one from the side. There should be a photo shop near the office, but it will probably be more expensive than one in another part of town.
Remember to dress nice, be polite, and make copies of everything. Never show impatience or anger. Don’t expect them to speak English either. If you bring someone to help you, they may not be allowed inside, so ask your friend to write down what you need: the payment form, the list of requirements, and the photo sheet.
2. Do the online application
Make sure that the dates on the application and your letters are from within 30 days of expiration, not before. For example, mine expires on May 31st, and if I brought in an application and letters dated in April it would be rejected.
Fill the application out online and print it. Careful with the dates! The day goes first and the moth second.
Here’s the link: http://www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/Solicitud_de_Estancia
Under ¿Qué desea hacer? select Extender la estancia.
Under Especifique select Expedición de tarjeta de Residente por Renovación.
If you don’t understand Spanish, get some help.
3. Return to the office and submit your application
Make the payment at any bank (with your passport) and make two copies of the receipt.
Put all of your documents from the checklist in a manila folder, and put the checklist and all backup copies in another folder. It can’t hurt to bring more documents, like your diploma or the originals of your paystubs. Basically bring everything you have, such as extra photographs.
Then go back to the office, wait in line and hand over the manila folder.
Smile and say buenos dias or buenas tardes to everyone. Again, never get angry or complain. If you do, you will get nowhere.
Don’t be surprised if they ask for something that’s not on the list. Don’t get mad or insist that it’s not necessary. Just calmly get as much information as you can.
If you made a mistake on the application, go to a ciber (internet café) and start a whole new one. There should be a ciber nearby where you can print. Tell the immigration officer nicely that you’ll be right back so you don’t have to get back in line.
When they finally accept your application, they will give you a paper with the important numbers for your application (NUT and pieza), including the contraseña (password). Save this paper and bring it and your passport to pick up your card once it’s ready.
Go to this page to check the status of your application: http://www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/Seguimiento_de_Tramite
Ask at the office for an estimated wait time. Then call around then.
Don’t rely on the website. Last time I kept checking see if there was any news, but nothing. Finally an office called. When I picked up the card, he asked why I hadn’t come earlier, implying that it had been ready for some time.
If you need to leave Mexico while your card is still being processed, then you need to apply for a departure and reentry permit (permiso de salida y regreso). I was told that it must be done three days before you leave, but I’d say do it a week early.
The fee was around 300 pesos.
Choose Obtener permiso de salida y regreso from the same page where you did your renewal application: http://www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/Solicitud_de_Estancia
And that should be it. In my experience the officers were polite and patient, despite huge lines and many applicants who had no idea what they are doing. You can’t use your cell phone. Bring a book or the paper and chill.