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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I am planning to move to Culiacan this spring to join my Mexican boyfriend, bringing an end to our two year long distance relationship :). I spent a year as an exchange student in Mazatlan, have traveled extensively to different parts of Mexico for work over the last couple of years, am fluent in Spanish, have lots of friends and networking connections there, etc...so I feel very comfortable making the move. However, I have a few questions I can't seem to find a good answer to after a lot of research and am hoping someone here can help me.

I plan to do freelance translating once I arrive. I work primarily with US agencies and am paid in Dollars to my U.S. bank account. After explaining this to the Mexican Consulate and inquiring about an FM-3 visa (assuring I could provide proof of income and all other necessary documentation), they told me I could get by on a tourist visa....

However, I would prefer an FM-3 visa for many reasons: less times per year having to drive my car 8-10 hours to the border to renew; being able to apply for health insurance; being able to contract utilities (most will be in BF's name, but I will need a cell phone contract, and who knows what else), and I just want to feel more legal there, and not a "tourist!":

Is the FM-3 ONLY for retirees, or other workers employed in Mexico?? I can't find a classification for freelance workers, even though I can prove all the documentation. The Mexican Consulate didn't seem to eager to let me apply for one. My BIGGEST concern is not having health insurance. Unless I can buy a private insurance policy there as a "tourist" (which I'm sure would cost much more than the public plan). I hate being uninsured.

Should I have any problems with my car? I don't need to register it locally, do I? I am just a little nervous about being pegged as a tourist with my Pennsylvania plates, and wonder what it takes to get a Mexican plate.

What about phone or other contracts I might need to put in?

Thanks for the advice!
 

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Good questions Monika992, I am in a similar situation in many respects (including converting the long-distance relationship into a nromal one!). I will want some kind of health coverage and IMSS would be OK, but it appears that I will need an FM3 to apply for it. I want to wait for my FM3 because after receiving the FM3 there is a time limit (60 days?) for bringing in a household's worth of goods and I won't have anywhere to put my stuff for 9-12 months. Like Monika992, I don't like going uncovered for long but I don't want to miss the window of opportunity for bringing in my goods. Are there any other options besides a private health policy?
Thanks all
 

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You will be breaking the law if you work for money on a tourist visa, never mind what they told you. Also, if you get Mexican clients, you will probably run into a client who requires a tax invoice (“recibo de honorarios”) which will require you to be tax registered (“RFC”) and for that you definitely need an FM3 or FM2. Most people who get an FM3 with work permission are sponsored by an employer, but in your case you will be seeking the “FM3 independiente” which allows you to be self-employed.

Enter Mexico on a tourist visa and apply for an FM3 (or FM2 if that suits your future plans better) once you are in Mexico. It is generally very hard to get an FM3 from a consulate abroad before you enter Mexico, and even more so—virtually impossible—if you plan to be self-employed. Even within Mexico, the requirements and obstacles for getting independiente status vary a lot from one place to another. If they put impossible requirements in your way, it may be easier to find a job teaching English, get your employer to sponsor the FM3-with-work-permission, and later leave the job and get your work permission changed to independiente. I.e. it can often be easier to get “change of employer” than to get permission to work in the first place.

There are private health insurers in Mexico for residents of Mexico—which you will be—and that would probably be a better bet than arranging something foreign or designed for tourists. Also, a visit to the doctor and minor health care is very affordable, so you really only need health insurance to cover the eventuality of a major catastrophe.
 

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Thanks Maesonna. The work issues won't apply to me since I won't be working and the FM3 I'll eventually be getting will be of the 'Rentista' type. It seems that the private insurance for residents you mention is the only option I'll have until I'm eligible for IMSS after getting that FM3.
 

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Both Monica and Circle will have to qualify for an FM3 by showing sufficient foreign income and/or resources. As stated, Monica may not work (even for free) without a specific working permission on her FM3, issued by INM.
Many folks don't realize that consulates are not INM and often don't have the specific details and answers that you may want. In fact, if you ask the same question at several consulates, you will get several different answers. Of course, you can't do that, because you must use the consulate nearest to your home address. Monica seems to have been told what she wanted to hear (a common Mexican trait) and the answer was both misleading and false, which could potentially get her into trouble with INM.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the replies, everyone.

Circle - how funny you are in the same situation as me! I would love to hear your story :)

To those who said I cannot work on a tourist visa - I can, because my money is coming from US clients to my US bank account. I will continue to pay taxes in the US. I will not be earning any money at all in Mexico.

Interesting to hear that it is easier to apply for an FM-3 in Mexico. I had heard the opposite! I heard it only takes about a day at the consulate in USA - and can take several weeks or even months to do it in Mexico...hmmm...

I am glad to hear about the private insurance. My boyfriend was helping me look the other day and he didn't know, other than the "gastos medicos mayores" plans, what is available. That might be what I need...anyway...thanks for the tips!
 

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Monika,
Please proceed with caution. Immigration law prohibits work of any kind, paid or volunteer, without their permission. It makes no difference to INM if you are paid in or out of Mexico, or not paid at all. Granted, many 'get away with' doing what you propose, but it is, technically, against the law. I had to stop volunteer teaching when, warned by INM, for a charitable organization, for which the permission to volunteer could have been approved with the correct paperwork. I simply came to their attention quite innocently. Things are tightening up in this economy and enforcement is more frequent.
The rules of this forum prevent further discussion of 'illegal activities'.
 

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I'd like to dip my toes into this discussion and ask: how long is a tourist visa good for? Sounds like I would start with that to enter Mexico and then apply for an FM3.
Thanks,
You are all very informative. Great forum.
Rich
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I understand what you are saying, but I'm not really working "in" Mexico. I'm working "on the internet"...internet work makes things complicated, I understand, but it's the beauty of freelancing. Anyway, thanks for the advice everyone!
 

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I'd like to dip my toes into this discussion and ask: how long is a tourist visa good for? Sounds like I would start with that to enter Mexico and then apply for an FM3.
Thanks,
You are all very informative. Great forum.
Rich
Technically 90 to 180 days, depending on what they give you when you enter, but supposedly they are giving everyone 180 days now.
 

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Monica,
INM will set you straight if they discover you. They don't care where you are paid, or if you are paid, only that your working backside is in Mexico.
Enough said.
 

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Please let me jump in here and ask a few newbie questions. I may have the wrong thread so move this and change the subject if you think appropriate. There may be another thread addressing this that I haven't found; so point me in the right direction if so.

I'm curious about this because it hits on employment which could affect my husband and me in a few years. We're beginning to look into moving to Mexico after my elderly parents pass (it seem crass to say die, but there you go). This won't likely be in a year, but maybe in a couple. We're in our mid 50s but not in the position to retire for some time.

If one is a freelancer working via the internet, and has a client base, in our case, from the US, that supplies a steady income, is that an obstacle to spending years in Mexico? What route does one take in pursing this? Is it the independiente? If law is law, how do the requirements end up being different from place to place? How do you find out the requirements for one's specific place? Does one end up paying taxes to both countries, say for some years before deciding whether or not to immigrate?

Neither of us are the type that like trying to slide by the back door. Not declaring income or employment and hoping not to get caught is more stress than it's worth to both of us. Being illegal is not an option.

It appears that one needs to get all their ducks in a row before making any move so as to take advantage of time limits on moving household goods and similar things. Since I'm the anal one, I really like having those ducks lined up.

Thanks,
Gayle
 

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....I had to stop volunteer teaching when, warned by INM, for a charitable organization, for which the permission to volunteer could have been approved with the correct paperwork.
Just curious, did you eventually do the correct paperwork and continue volunteering or was it more complicated than than?

The rules of this forum prevent further discussion of 'illegal activities'.
How do you find out what is illegal and what isn't? Is there a document that can be had that outlines things for emmigrants? Do you simply have to find a lawyer and consult on actions such as your volunteer work? If things are as slippery as comments seem to imply, how do you even trust what a lawyer tells you?

Gayle
 

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Joyla, in regards to paying tax to both countries, what you want to investigate is "double tax treaties". These are treaties established so that people and businesses who owe tax in both countries can avoid paying tax twice. For a start, see here and here. Have fun!
 

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As mentioned before, some people 'get away' with all sorts of internet activity but are 'technically' working illegally. If you are in Mexico, as a 'rentista', you may not do anything without the permission of INM. In the case of volunteering, the organization must be properly chartered and registered with INM and their officers must have permission to work. Once that is done, volunteers may get free registration to help the organization. In my case, the chain of events wasn't done properly and I did not continue to pursue the matter.
Laws differ from state to state, though federal laws are the same. However, one must deal with the 'interpretation' of the agent or officer in front of you. If you have another opinion, things can get more and more complicated, really fast. You can't expect to come out on top, once you have stirred the pot. Some hire lawyers and find that a good way to dispose of money.
 

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Monika, may I suggest that if RV is giving you advice - and in this case over and over - you would be foolish to not heed it. You appear rather set on your plan, hoping to mould the Mexican law into your own situation. As Bob says, you may get away with it - but then you may not. Your bf is doing you a disservice if he doesn't warn you. As in US and Canada, ignorance of the law is no excuse. How do you get out of your dilemma ? I really don't know. Perhaps a sabbatical-type leave, though if they are your clients in the US that might not work.
Timing is everything. Maybe now is not the time for the move. I know of which I speak, having rushed into a marriage with a Cuban, whereas hindsight has shown me I should have been more sensible. Good luck and I hope you get the answer that helps, as opposed to or maybe the same as the answer you want.
 

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I think that the common difficulty, regarding immigration matters, is that the citizen of a country usually has no knowledge of the requirements for a foreigner to visit, or especially to live in their own country. There are few places in this world where one can simply walk across a border and set up housekeeping and work as a foreigner. The penalty is usually confiscation of property and deportation for violation of a country's immigration and labor laws.
 

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Thanks for the link to the double taxation site.

Laws differ from state to state, though federal laws are the same.
:doh: Wasn't thinking of anything but federal laws :doh:

You can't expect to come out on top, once you have stirred the pot.
So true, so true.

Some hire lawyers and find that a good way to dispose of money.
Simply to clarify, I wasn't speaking in terms of fighting any actual thing going on; I was thinking in terms of advice before starting something. Especially in areas with large populations of expats, I was thinking there would be lawyers to consult that would have knowledge of feasibility and legality and how to or how not to do something. Note, I've never had to hire a lawyer for anything yet, but I have worked for some before and don't despise the breed as a whole - just some of 'em.

Say, were we to take a long vacation in Chapala and decide we loved it there and wanted to stay forever. I would think there would be immigration lawyers to consult for advice beforehand rather than risk losing a good client base by doing something wrong. I've gone down in flames too many times before from not knowing fully what I was doing. Time to stop doing that.

Gayle
 
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