TREND: Over the past three years, the number of temporary residency visas issued by Mexican authorities has been in decline. Although in 2017 Mexico issued 59,000 temporary residency visas, in 2020, it issued 31,000. At the same time, the number of permanent residency visas has increased from 33,000 in 2017 to 49,000 in 2020.
Temporary residents might stay in Mexico for four years and might request work authorization. This type of visa is primarily given for those who seek investment opportunities or have sufficient funds to live in the country; for family reunification; or for international students during the completion of their educational program. In contrast, permanent residents can stay in Mexico indefinitely and are granted work authorization de facto. Foreigners who have completed four years as temporary residents might request permanent residence; or if a family member is a permanent resident or a Mexican citizen by birth; or if they are retirees or pensioners who receive foreign income. Mexico also grants permanent residency to those who are granted refugees status, political asylum, complementary protection or who are recognized as stateless.
It is possible that this increase in the issuance of permanent residency visas is associated with an increasing number of migrants who are recognized as refugees, and as a result have been granted permanent residency since 2017. Although, it might also be related to a steady number of migrants who obtain permanent residency annually through adjustment of their immigration status:
•Of the 31,000 temporary visas granted from January to November 2020, U.S. nationals represented the largest share (15 percent), followed by Colombian nationals (11 percent). More broadly, migrants from South America accounted for 33 percent of all visas issued during this period.
•More than 36 percent of all temporary resident visas were awarded to migrants on the basis of family unification, and approximately 30 percent of visas were issued for employment purposes. These reasons vary by region of origin. Migrants from Asia and Europe were more likely to receive these temporary resident visas on the basis of employment. While migrants from South America receive temporary resident visas for family reunification and for educational purposes.
•For the 49,000 permanent residency visas issued by Mexican authorities from January through November 2020, the top nationalities were Venezuelans (20 percent), Hondurans (13 percent), US nationals (9 percent), and Cubans (8.5 percent).
•Similar to temporary residency visas, family unification was the main category for awarding permanent residency visas (38 percent), closely followed by humanitarian reasons (33 percent). Central American migrants, primarily from Hondurans are most likely to receive permanent residency as a result of asylum petitions, compared to U.S. migrants who obtain permanent residency on the basis of investment, being property owners, or retirees.
TAKEAWAY: Most policy discussion and media attention has been devoted to Mexico’s humanitarian protection landscape and its heightened border enforcement. However, the increase in permanent versus temporary resident visas reiterates that more and more migrants are seeing Mexico as a new home. As Mexico continues to adjust its legal framework on migration to adapt to new realities, it will be imperative to consider the heterogenous nature and needs of these flows to ensure their full integration into their new country of residency.
* Spotlight by Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Policy Analyst; Andrea Tanco, Associate Policy Analyst, & Ana Paulina Ornelas Cruz, Research Consultant, at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI). MPI seeks to improve immigration and integration policies through authoritative research and analysis, opportunities for learning and dialogue, and the development of new ideas to address complex policy questions. Twitter: @migrationpolicy