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Your United States Citizenship is Permanent
Perhaps you have never considered the idea of residing outside of your home country, and you’re concerned about retaining the benefits you receive as a United States citizen should you choose to live in another country.
The most important fact to keep mind with respect to your US citizenship, is that once you have US citizenship, unless you carry out specific deliberate steps to renounce it, your United States citizenship is yours, and it is yours for all of your life. United States citizens are eligible for, and receive all of the benefits of being an American, regardless of the location of their residency, temporary or permanent. Although it is possible to renounce your citizenship, it is neither common, nor would it be a good idea!
Your Passport and Travel
This means that you will continue to enter and exit the United States with your US passport, which you must continue to keep current to retain the ability to freely travel.
Your visa, or residency permit in another country is controlled by the immigration service of that country alone, and is independent of the knowledge or actions of the government of the United States. Whether there is any exchange of information about your residency in Mexico between the Mexican government and the United States government, I am unaware. But, I doubt it.
Three Kinds of Permission
There are three levels of official permission granted by the Mexican government for a US citizen to remain in Mexico for any extended period of time.
The Tourist Visa
The first and simplest level is granted upon your entry. You simply present your US passport, and you are granted a “visitors visa”. This is usually permission to remain in Mexico for up to 180 days. I say usually, because I have heard of cases of people being granted permission for shorter stays. Some people have tried to cheat the system bu returning to the United States in the 181 st day, and then returning immediately to be granted another 6 month stay. I would advise you not to do this!
The FM1 Temporary Residency Permit
The next level of permission granted by Mexico is permission to remain in Mexico for periods from six months up to four years. To obtain this level of permission, you would need to start by visiting the embassy of Mexico in a city inside of the United States. To start the process to obtain this permit, you will need ti submit evidence of either a certain amount of cash value held in US dollars, and/or proof of a guaranteed permanent pension payment.
To get permission to stay here, you basically have to show, at the Mexican Embassy or Consulate in the US, that you are not a a deadbeat by showing that you have money and a permanent irrevocable income. As a guideline only I can tell you that when we applied almost two years ago, the stated requirements were that you had to show at least $23,000 US held in a US account, and/or you had to show proof of a pension payment of at least $1400 monthly, which in my case was from US Social Security.
We had some concern that the cash requirement might be doubled for a married couple. But they did not do that. Keep in mind that these number requirements constantly change.
Keep in mind also that when dealing with anything related to Mexican requirements, there seems to be flexibility. I also have heard, and cannot verify myself, that you might get different requirement levels quoted to you from different Mexican consulates in different US cities. We have heard of people being approved at levels far below the requirements, but I cannot verify that. It is only rumor.
To that, I might add that when we applied, they did not appear to do any reasonable amount of checking the evidence that we presented. It was nothing more than a printout of our current account status. The official at the consulate looked at it, and approved it without doing any verification.
Once you are approved by the consulate in a Mexican is a US city, you are given a visa on a page in your US passport. You then have 60 days (maybe that varies too) to make your move, or you might have to re’apply in the US again. When you enter Mexico, you still fill out a tourist visa form, which allows you to stay while your residency is being approved, and you present your passport with the residency application page in the back.
What about Non Retirees ?
I am not an experienced authority on this, but my understanding is that you can come to Mexico on a tourist visa to look for a job. Once you obtain a job offer, you can return to a Mexican embassy inside the US to begin a procedure much like the temporary resident procedure. I am not qualified to say any more than that, as it was not my experience.