A document determines if you are a permanent resident. You may have a temporary residence document and you have a permanent resident document.
Temporary residence is for people who want to live in Mexico up to 4 years and who have certain income requirements. You can get temporary or permanent residence visa at the consulate outside of Mexico, which all people need to do unless you have a spouse, straight or gay, who has a temporary, permanent visa or is a citizen, or you have a Mexican child or a child who has immigration document, a minor child, or someone who is in your ward, in which case, you could switch from a tourist visa to temporary or permanent visa once you are in Mexico.
A temporary resident visa would be good for one year. At the end of one year you can renew it for three years and at the end of those four years total, you could go to permanent visa without having to show financials.
Why do people choose a temporary status over a permanent status? A temporary resident visa will allow the person to import temporarily a foreign plated car for that 4-year period. A permanent resident cannot temporarily import that foreign plated car. Sometimes we have two spouses with one car. I’ll have one spouse be the importer under the temporary visa and have the other spouse get a permanent visa. The permanent spouse can drive the temporary spouse’s vehicle. The temporary imported vehicle can be driven by anyone who is a temporary resident, a tourist, or the parents, children, siblings, or spouse of the importer.
In addition to the issue with the car, another reason people don’t get permanent status is the income issue. In order to quality for a permanent residence, the government of Mexico wants to see you have about US $80,000 in the bank to qualify. For temporary residence, the required amount is about $20,000. Also, relative to income, the consulates are very flexible in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Laredo for people with a $1,000 or $1,200 a month income to quality for temporary residence. For permanent residence, they would want about $2,000 a month. A strategy we employ is if we have a married couple and the husband makes $1,200 in social security and the wife makes $400 or even nothing, we’ll have the husband get the temporary visa, go to Mexico, and with an apostille copy of their marriage certificate, once the husband finalizes his visa, then we switch the wife from tourist to temporary status.
Another strategy is if someone owns property in Mexico, they can use that for temporary residence in lieu of the income-qualifying requirement. However, they want them to have a house worth about 2 million pesos (about US $110,000). And often times it’s problematic because notaries sometimes would put a lower value of the deed or if they own the property for many years, immigration doesn’t know what the current value is. Another option for people is if their grandparents were Mexican then we can make them Mexican by making one of their parents Mexican and then them. We do that a lot of times. We do a lot of work with clients with double nationality. We’ve also done work relative to different generations. Sometimes an elderly couple may say, “Oh yeah, our son married a Mexican girl, and they have a child.” We will make the child Mexican then after we make the child Mexican, if the grandparents want to live in Mexico then we get the child’s birth certificate and their son’s birth certificate to show the relationship. With that, we can have the grandparents go from tourist to a permanent residence without having to show income and do it all from within Mexico.
A temporary resident visa is better than tourist visa for a number reasons. You can only get a CURP number (like a Social Security number) if you’re a temporary or a permanent resident. With a CURP number, you get on Seguro Popular, the national free health plan. A tourist can’t get the national health plan. In order to avoid paying capital gains on a property, you need a CURP number. If you want a Mexican driver’s license you can’t do it without a temporary or a permanent resident card. It is also better and easier to open a bank account in Mexico if you have a temporary or permanent visa.
One of the most common mistakes people make it to let their immigration papers expire is if, for example, their card has an expiration date of 10/2/2016, they think, “Oh, I have to renew on October.” However, in Mexico, the date format is different than in the US, so “10/2/2016 in Mexico is February 10, 2016. Other times, people let their immigration expire because they want to keep their foreign plated car and that’s another story. But if your card expires in Mexico, you have to show income again and you’re going to have to show a higher level than you had to show at the consulate. So you’re going to have to show about $1,600 a month instead of $1,200 a month or you’re going to have to show close to $80,000 in the bank instead of $20,000. Someone who has a low income but they have a lot of assets, they’re going to have a problem if their card expires. So it’s very important to make sure you renew your card on time. It’s also a good idea if you have a spouse, to have an apostille copy of your birth certificate, so if one person’s card does expire then the other person can bring you back under regularization family program.
The name of your document isn’t going to govern your tax situation. Your tax situation is determined by your source of income, what is your country of residency, where is your center of interest, and how much time you spend in what country.