Many United States citizens are opting for longer and even permanent stays in Mexico, evidence of which can be seen in the more than 72,000 residency permits granted between 2014 and 2016 by the federal government.
But the numbers have been declining: permits issued in 2016 were one-third fewer than two years before.
And figures published by various Mexican media outlets suggest that a huge majority of American expats in Mexico live here illegally.
Be it for business, leisure or retirement, Americans have made their homes in beach paradises, colonial towns or the cities. The chief destinations — those chosen by 60% of expats to reside in temporarily or permanently — were in the states of Jalisco, Mexico City, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Quintana Roo and Guanajuato during those years.
Close to one-third of applicants had decided to extend their stay for over a year, indicating that their residency is basically permanent. In 2014, 42% of applications in Baja California Sur were in that category.
But the number of applicants has declined. In 2014 there were 29,286 residents’ permits granted. Last year, that number plummeted to 19,617.
On the other hand, more states joined the list of those where applicants wished to have permanent resident status. There were only three states — Zacatecas, Nayarit and Baja California — where more than half the permits issued were of the permanent kind in 2014.
By 2016, the list was eight states long, having grown to include Durango, Colima, Baja California Sur, Michoacán, Sonora and Guerrero, while Zacatecas dropped off.
Meanwhile, various recent reports have indicated that between 739,000 and 1 million Americans live in Mexico, the majority illegally.
Reports have quoted U.S. State Department estimates that 1 million U.S. expats live in Mexico and that 934,698 do so without documentation. Another report said Mexico’s statistics agency, in its between-census estimates of 2015, said there were 739,168 Americans living in Mexico, but only 65,302 of them had the required documentation from the National Immigration Institute.
The vice-president of the Executive Council of Global Enterprises, an association representing the interests of multinational companies with a presence in Mexico, estimates that more than half of American expats in Mexico are living here illegally.
They are people who arrived with a tourist card and stayed, said Andrés Rozental.
According to International Living, a web portal that specializes in retirement destinations and information, says “One million Americans can’t be wrong,” estimating that that is the number of American expats in Mexico.
It says the most popular destinations are Lake Chapala, San Miguel de Allende, Puerto Vallarta, Baja California Sur (Todos Santos, Loreto and La Paz), Mazatlán, Huatulco, Puerto Escondido, Mérida and the Mayan Riviera.