I think I should start today’s blog to talk about obtaining Citizenship for Foreigners in Mexico. Although it is not a super complicated process, it can be a time consuming one and requires knowledge of the laws and the procedures to do so. I did not use an immigration lawyer as many foreigners do, I did the whole process by myself back in 2017.
I was one of those people who had been through the FM3/FM2 process going back about 6 years; meaning I was already finished with my years of the FM3 requirement and was in the 1st year of my FM2. Then the immigration laws change in 2012 and eliminated those classifications and started the Temporary or Permanent Residence cards. Since I was only in my 2nd year of the FM2, I was forced into Temporary Residence card for 1 year before I could apply for the Permanent Residence card. People who were on their 2nd year or beyond automatically received their Permanent Residence cards. After my year of waiting I was able to get my Permanent Residency and one year after that anyone is eligible to obtain Mexican Citizenship through Residency. The USA allows you to have dual citizenship, so I did not worry about losing my USA citizenship by obtaining the Mexico one.
I immediately started my process after the year was up and began to study for the citizenship test that was one of the requirements. The test has changed recently, but back then it was 100 questions of which you were asked 5 of them with ability to miss 1 question to pass the exam. It was all very casual and done with a slip of paper in front of my immigration representative. I believe the test is now written with all 100 questions being required to be answered. Here is the link to the SRE website that explains the current requisites: https://sre.gob.mx/carta-de-naturalizacion-por-residencia
The most important thing to recognize in Mexico is that Migracion (Immigration) has nothing to do with SRE (Secretaria de Relaciones Exterior) and they do not even communicate with each other except for verifying your entries and exits from Mexico. The SRE is the department similar to USA State Department, so they are in charge of Mexican Embassies around the world, passports, and the naturalization of citizens. Their offices are located in major metropolitan cities around Mexico, and since another requirement is to obtain a federal no criminal activity report available only in Mexico City, I decide to start the entire process there. Getting early to the National Police office is a good suggestion because there are literally hundreds of people every day obtaining these and they limit the number of entries per day. I would plan on several hours for this process and getting the letter required as a part of your application package.
I was finished early enough that I went ahead to the SRE office in Mexico City and tried to begin my application process. Unfortunately, my passport was just a year old and I did not have the history required to show my entries and exits from Mexico back at least 2 years. I had left my expired one at home, so I was pretty much done for this trip. I did go to the Immigration office in Mexico City, thinking I could get this history report from them immediately and then return to SRE to continue. But these reports take several weeks to be completed. Luckily the Federal Police report has a life of about 90 days, so I could return to the SRE office in Guadalajara and start the citizenship process there.
I return home to Puerto Vallarta and immediately I order the entries and exits report from the local immigration office. I did not locate my old passport, so I would have needed this history anyway. The way that immigration does your entries and exits is haphazard and many times (especially if you drive) they do not stamp or passport or enter the information in their computers. There is a requirement that you have spent at least 8 months of the year in Mexico to be eligible for naturalization through residency.
As soon as my report is ready, I am ready to go to Guadalajara to start the process again. They accept appointments, so I would suggest you do that. This SRE is located in a very busy building where passports are issued to Mexican citizens. I meet with the SRE intake representative who assembles the file and even though their website says 3 copies, they really need 4 of each item, so be prepared to bring extra copies of everything. Once the file is complete, I took the simple test (now I understand it is much different and more difficult) and the package is prepared to be sent to the main SRE in Mexico City with a waiting period established to be at least 4 weeks (now their website says 3 months). Remember that your foreign birth certificate must be aspotille. Luckily I had email address contact with the Guadalajara office, because the process did drag out longer and they were very responsive to my questions about when it would be finished.
Finally after about 6 weeks, my Letter of Naturalization was ready! I made another appointment to pick it up the following week and I had to surrender my permanent residence card because you cannot be a citizen and an immigrant at the same time, right? There is a questionnaire to confirm you willing know what action you are taking and your rights and responsibilities as a Mexican Citizen. With the passport office right in the same building, I had my passport appointment about the same time and I immediately had the passport issued. Passports in Mexico have different times of expiration depending on how much you want to pay with 10 year passports costing about double of the 2 year ones.
When I return to Puerto Vallarta, I go the INE (Instituto Nacional Electoral) office to get my official voter registration card , which is considered to be the official Mexican ID that makes things very simple now when I need to do anything that requires identification verification. Of course there is always that look of surprise when I take it out….”Oh your are a Mexican!” It sure makes my life more simple and since I have property and business here, it only makes sense to be a Mexican Citizen!