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Work Permits and Visa Requirements in Mexico

When you assign employees to Mexico from your home country you need to make sure they have the proper work permit to be in compliance with immigration laws.  That will require learning the criteria, documentation and time frame for issuance of a work permit, all of which must be completed prior to beginning work.

If you are new to employing in Mexico, how will you know if you are following the regulations and allowing enough time to obtain work permits for your employees?  This guide will give you an outline of the basic requirements to get you started.

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Does my employee need a Mexican work permit?

Work permit requirements will be different depending on the nationality of the employee.  In general, work assignments longer than six months will require a formal work permit, while visits of less than 180 days can be made with a business visa.

One caveat to these rules is that any employee with a valid US visa can enter Mexico for up to six months on business or vacation without a visa.  This same exception applies to permanent residents of the UK as well.

What is the application process for a a Mexican work permit?

The first rule to know when obtaining a Mexican work permit is that the employee must apply in person for their work permit outside of Mexico, even if they are already in the country for business or pleasure.  That means they will have to leave Mexico, apply in a consulate and await approval of the work permit. 

Further, the work permit must be sponsored by a local corporate entity operating in Mexico, either your company’s branch office or a GEO employer of record.  If you have your own branch office and are taking a DIY approach, the process is as follows and can take up to 2 months to complete:

1. Issuance of a job offer in Mexico

The employee must have a valid job offer from a registered entity in Mexico that has a proof of registry certificate.  The employment is documented with an offer letter, detailing the position, duties, duration and compensation.

2. Application of Mexican work permit

The employer submits the application for the employee, and this process usually takes 30 to 45 days.  Both the employee and employer will have to submit documentation of the company registration and employee credentials.  The minimum cost is around 3,500 Mexican pesos for a one year work permit.

3. Visa application and interview with consulate

After the work permit is approved, the Mexican consulate abroad will be notified, and the employee can make an appointment for an interview.  They will also have to complete a medical exam prior to the interview, and then the permit can be approved in 1-3 days.  There is an additional cost for this of 2,500 pesos.

4. Travel to Mexico

Once the interview is complete and the work permit is approved it can be picked up from the consulate and the employee may travel to Mexico.  If they are staying longer than six months the employee will also have to apply for either temporary or permanent residence.

5. Registration in Mexico

Before starting work, the employee (and family members) must register within 30 days of arrival.  It takes five to eight days for the registration process.

Client case: Renewing a Mexican work permit

One of our clients with a current employee in Mexico had a question about how to renew a work permit that was expiring.  We advised them that it was important to begin working on the renewal before expiration as the employee would need to go to the Mexican immigration agency for the renewal. 

Do you need more information about Mexico?

If this process is new to you, there might be additional questions such as:

Is a spouse permitted to work in Mexico if the employee has a work permit?

Can the employee work in Mexico while the application is being processed?

If our company does not have a Mexican branch office, how can we sponsor a work permit for our employee?

These are the kind of problems that we solve for our clients in the areas of immigration, running a local payroll, tax compliance and labor regulations.  We make international employment simple.

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