Very often I see posts from expats asking about how to get Mexican citizenship when they really mean residency, also I noticed that some residents think they can have citizenship benefits. So, I can tell there is a lot of confusion between both terms and the benefits you can get as one or another, that encouraged me to dedicate the post of the week to this topic. So, my hope is this will be helpful to you to know the difference and decide your immigration goals based on true definitions.
To be a resident in Mexico means you’re a foreign citizen that have qualified under Mexican immigration guidelines to live in Mexico for at least 1 uninterrupted year or, in case of permanent residents, in a definitive way. This gives you benefits you don’t get as a tourist, but you don’t get same benefits as a citizen (to know more about the benefits of residency check our last post, link at the end).
The most relevant point here is the fact that being a resident of Mexico doesn’t interfere with your citizenship at all, this means whatever your birth citizenship is, that will remain the same.
The implications of this is, when you’re in Mexico and you need some government assistance you need to go first to your home country consulates or embassy in Mexico in order to get support such as consular protection, legal advice and to have someone to stand for you and who will watch your human rights are respected when you’re in a vulnerable situation, like being really sick, in prison or if you’re a victim of a felony. Also, you get passport renewals, notarized services, civil registration services (mainly this is getting marriage and birth certificates for those events that happened abroad), among other benefits that can vary from one country to another.
Mexico is a country that admits double citizenship, but some other countries don’t. So, depending on your home citizenship you can get double citizenship, or you will need to resign to your birth citizenship to obtain the Mexican.
If you decide this is what you want you will go trough the naturalization process that requires (overall): Have been a resident for 5 years (if you don’t have direct family bonds with Mexicans), not have been out of Mexico for more than 6 months in the last two years, and spanish, history and culture tests among other specific documents you must provide.
Some of the benefits a citizen gets over a resident are the following:
· Right to own property in the “restricted zone” for foreigners (100 Km from the borders and 500 km from the coastline).
· Right to vote and be voted (for some government positions in the last case)
· You do not longer have to report with INM (Immigration national institute aka immigration office) when you make a change of address, marriage status, or employer. Now you report to INE your address, but you don´t get fines if you don’t.
· You are free to work either as self-employed, employee, business owner, etc. But you do have to report to SAT (taxes office) and pay the due taxes.
· You can develop any of the economic activities available (as a foreign citizen there are some activities are forbidden).
Also, you should consider, once you are Mexican citizen you resign to the right of asking help to your home country consulates and embassies while in Mexico. This means if you’re in a vulnerable position you will have to face standard processes as any other Mexican (without consular intervention). While in your home country, you cannot request consular protection from a Mexican consulate either. While in another country you can choose which protection you will use but cannot use both.
There are some misconceptions that I would like to clarify to fulfill the purposes of this post.
· “Because I own real estate in Mexico, I’m already a resident”
It gives you an advantage when applying for residency to prove economic solvency but is not essential and you still have to go through the same process as people who doesn't own property in Mexico.
· Because I have a Mexican child, I’m already a citizen
· Because I’m married to a Mexican citizen, I’m already a citizen
Truth is having a direct family bond with Mexicans gives you an advantage since you wait less to be able to request the citizenship (only 2 years) but is not immediately, you still must go through the same naturalization process.
· Because I’m Mexican citizen now I can buy communal land without risk.
Communal land by law definition is not allowed to be sold, neither to Mexicans nor foreigners. This means you won’t get an actual deed if you decide to “purchase” it anyway so what you get is a “possession letter” than can be appealed by the community if they want to (this is totally a topic for another post). The only way to be certain the land is yours to keep for good is to make a change of “soil usage” and make it private property. Mexicans and foreigners face the same risks here unless the Mexican is from the town where the land is located.
This is it for now, Thanks for reading till the end and please let me know in the comments if you would like me to make a post about some of the other topics I mentioned here.
Always happy to help
Ley de Nacionalidad, Capitulo III. Citizenship law, Chapter III.
Art. 27 Constitucional. Mexican constitution, art.27th.
Benefits of residency:https://immigratetomexico.com/immigrationapriority
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Immigrationadvisersmoctezuma