After having been approved for a resident visa by the Mexican Consulate in Chicago (Here is that process along with resources), I had to start the process at the immigration office in Mexico. I had learned that this could be a challenge because all the forms are in Spanish, both online and in paper.
I hired an immigration attorney in Ajijic to do it for me and she was fantastic. Her fee? 1,800 pesos (about $90 U.S. Dollars). Well worth every centavo!
The immigration office's fee was 4,700 pesos (about $235.00).
One of the most important parts of the process is to make sure you obtain the correct visa form when you come into the country. For me, it was at the airport. My attorney reminded me of this twice. When you go through immigration at the airport, show them the visa that the consulate placed in my passport. They will mark a big "30" on the immigration paper and give it to you. That's the first thing my attorney wanted when I met with her a few days after arrival. She was very relieved when I had it. Apparently, it's a big problem if you fail to get it. (Normally, you'll get one as a tourist. This had to be a special one with a big "30" marked on it with a sharpie.) The "30" indicates that you have 30 days to start the process with the immigration office.
So, I gave her my passport which had the consulate's visa affixed inside, the all-important little piece of paper from the airport, signed some documents allowing her to act on my behalf, and she took it from there. She said the process would take 4-5 weeks. In the meantime, I had to remain in Mexico. (If you do need to leave, she can submit a special request to the immigration office on your behalf, allowing you to do so for up to 60 days.)
She filled out the online bits and took my passport to the immigration office which was located in Chapala, about three miles away.
A couple of days later, she emailed me to come get my passport. The immigration office had done what they needed to do with it.
A week later, she notified me that I had an appointment with the immigration office to get fingerprinted and photographed. Her assistant would meet me there at the appointed time. It all went well. Everything and everyone was on right time.
About a week later, she notified me that my resident visa card was done, and I could go pick it up at an appointed time two days later.
So, I'm officially a Mexican resident! I can now enroll in the public healthcare system. I can open a bank account. I can come and go as I please. I'm pretty sure this allows me to work. My card is actually green. I have a "green card."
I'm an American-Mexican.
Another very important thing to do:
Whenever I fly out of the country, I should fill out this two-part document at the IMM office at the airport and keep one part for when I fly back. It's so that the government can ensure that residents like me are leaving and coming back into the country properly.
Failing to do this can void your resident visa. Wow. I would hate to have it voided and have to start this process all over again.
So, to summarize the process:
1) You have to start it at the Mexican consulate in the U.S. They do the main approving-stuff. Getting the appointment with them was the most challenging part for me. Emailing them seemed to work. Here is a list of all the Mexican consulates in the U.S. along with their email addresses. Here is a link containing the application to fill out. The cost was $45
2) Come back to Mexico, (being sure to get that paper marked with 30 on it when you come through immigration.) You have 30 days to start the process with the immigration office in Mexico. I highly suggest hiring an attorney to do this part for you. It worked well and I was a Mexican resident within 3 weeks. My attorney was highly recommended by lots of folks. Azucena Bateman Campos at ABC Legal. Email: email@example.com
- Consulate fee: $45
- Attorney fee: 1,800 pesos (about $90)
- Immigration office fee: 4,700 pesos (about $235)
- Total: About $370.