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How to Obtain a Mexican FM3
We have had a lot of inquires lately on our site regarding the FM3 origination process. In particular, many of the questions ask how to apply for an FM3 and if you can apply for an FM3 on your own.
An FM3 is a Mexican Government issued visa that allows the holder of the visa to live and work in Mexico for up to one year. The FM3 is issued specifically for a particular type of work you are doing in Mexico and/or the employer for which you will be working. Many Americans and Canadians in Puerto Penasco rent out their condominium properties and beach front custom homes to visitors and tourists. An FM3, as well as a Hacienda Tax I.D. number, are needed to legally collect the rental income.
My answer to the question “can I apply for an FM3 on my own?” is yes, you can, but don’t. The FM3 origination process is extensive and quite involved. I’ve spoken with many FM3 applicants that have applied for a visa on their own, only to have to start the process over again due to an incomplete application. They pay additional fees on top of what they have already paid for a professional to prepare and re-submit the corrected paperwork. It is not worth your time, money and aggravations to apply for an FM3 on your own.
We hired a professional to run our application through the process. Gabriela Ramos is as professional as you can hire. She is the former director of the immigration office in Puerto Penasco. She knows the routine, the staff at the immigration office and the contacts to get your application completed correctly. She was of tremendous help, spoke english very well, and has a great sense of humor. Her fee was $355 dollars for her time and the submission of the application.
To obtain the FM3 you must first buy an FMT tourist visa. This you can do on your own. FMTs can be purchased for $25 dollars at ports-of-entry. In our case, we purchased ours at the Lukeville/Sonoyta border.
The FM3 application includes ask for the names of your mother and father, your eye color, your religion, and shape of your face. The application is in Spanish and the answers to the questions are required to be written in Spanish.
To accompany the application are black and white photos of yourself. The photo requirements are very specific. You must have 2 identical black and white photos that are 1 X 1 inches with a straight-on head shot and a right profile head shot. Gabriela took us to a small photo studio to have our pictures taken. The studio charges $9 dollars for 2 photos that were ready in 10 minutes. As part of the application process you will need to provide photo copies of every page of your passport. Yes, that’s right, every page, even if they are blank. The copies must be clear and large enough to read. We gave Gabriela our passports for the evening, she made copies of them and returned our passports the next day.
You will need to provide a letter in Spanish stating that you are gainfully employed, were you live and the name of your employer. If your only gainful employment is rental of your property, you will need to submit the bank trust docs that you obtained when you purchased your property. If you are selling property and are employed with a real estate brokerage firm you will need proof of employment from your broker. Additionally, any time you change employers or receive income from an occupation other than what is indicated in your FM3 application, you are required to file a new letter indicating your new gainful employment and multiple occupations. There is an additional fee to update the FM3.
Finally you will need thumb prints on the signed FM3 application.
The processing the the FM3 application will take approximently 3-4 weeks. Once the application has been processed you must pick up the FM3 in person at the immigration office in which the application was filed. In our case, the immigration office was in Puerto Peñasco. From there you will hire a Mexican accountant to handle the reporting of your income. The accountant is responsible for filing your income tax report and advising you on the income tax due.