Virginia, US

May 17 2019

Express Processing No Longer Available in Mexico City; Stricter Adjudication of Applications

Mexico

At a Glance

  • The National Immigration Institute (INM) has closed its express counter in Mexico City. As a result, applications for post-arrival registrations and Temporary Residence renewals must now be filed through the regular process.
  • The INM has also changed the format of the current Resident Identity Cards, which are taking longer to issue than the previous cards.
  • These developments are resulting in end-to-end processing times of 35 business days or more, up from 8 business days. Foreign nationals should also be aware of additional travel restrictions during the processing of their immigration applications.
  • Effective immediately, the INM will no longer accept applications that do not meet all its formal guidelines. Previously, companies could file incomplete applications if they did not meet one or more of the requirements to prevent immigration status expirations.

The situation

The immediate closure of the express immigration counter in Mexico City and the implementation of a new Resident Identity Card format, will delay processing of post-arrival registrations, issuance of Resident Identity Cards and renewals of Temporary Residence. Also, the National Immigration Institute (INM) is more strictly adjudicating all immigration applications, preventing employers and foreign nationals from filing incomplete applications to avoid status expiration, which was previously allowed.

Lengthier processing times

Total processing times for post-arrival registration and Temporary Residence renewals have increased significantly to a total of 35 business days or more from the initial application submission to the issuance of the Resident Identity Cards due to two significant changes:

  • Closure of express counters. Applications for post-arrival registrations and Temporary Residence renewals must now be filed through the regular process, resulting in processing times of 20 business days or more, instead of one week.
  • Format change for Resident Identity Cards. The INM changed the format of the current Resident Identity Cards, resulting in processing times of 15 business days to issue the document; previously the card was issued within one day of the registration appointment.
  • Impacts. Effects of the mandatory regular filing process for affected applicants include:
    • Delay in local payroll. Longer processing time frames to obtain a Resident Identity Card may delay the foreign national’s payroll start date in Mexico. Although a foreign national entering Mexico with a Residence Visa can legally work, foreign nationals cannot be enrolled in a Mexican company’s payroll until they receive their Residence Identity Card, which can only be obtained upon completion of the post-arrival registration process. Employers and foreign nationals should plan for onboarding delays.
    • Travel restrictions. Affected foreign nationals may face additional travel restrictions during the processing of their immigration applications. Foreign nationals with pending immigration applications must obtain an Exit Permit for each trip outside Mexico and should allow at least 10 calendar days between trips to obtain each permit.
    • Foreign nationals working offshore. Employers and foreign nationals working offshore in Mexico should expect delayed work start dates, as some port authorities will require the foreign national to have a Residence Card before traveling offshore.
    • Delays in other administrative processes. Foreign nationals without a valid Residence Identity Card may face issues initiating certain government registrations, services or financial processes in Mexico.

 

Admissibility criteria.

Effective immediately, the INM will no longer accept applications that do not meet all its formal guidelines. Previously, companies could file incomplete applications if they did not meet one or more of the requirements in order to avoid immigration status expirations.

  • Impact. Employers should initiate renewal processes at least 90 days in advance of expiration to allow enough time to meet all application criteria before expiry of the foreign national’s current status.

 

Background

Under the previous government, the INM created an express counter in its Mexico City branch for expedited processing of immigration applications such as post-arrival registrations and some Temporary Residence renewals. This was the only immigration express counter created in Mexico, attracting employers and foreign nationals to complete their immigration processes in this city.

It is possible that Mexican immigration authorities closed the express counter in an attempt to alleviate ongoing processing delays caused by severe application backlogs. This measure is expected to allow additional personnel to review more complex immigration applications. In December 2018 and during this year’s Holy Week, the National Immigration Institute implemented a longer holiday work schedule than previous years, also to alleviate the backlog of applications.

Looking ahead

Although these measures demonstrate the government’s intent to improve overall processing times, employers and foreign nationals should be prepared for continued delays during this re-organization of the Mexico City immigration office and should be aware that additional changes may be forthcoming without any advance notice. Employers and foreign nationals should work with their immigration provider to prepare for longer registration and renewal processing times.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to MexicoCityInfo@fragomen.com.