Volunteering in Mexico
Last UpDate 16 March 2009

The following is edited from an article appearing in the Bandaras News (Puerto Vallarta) 5 March 2009.

The Mexican Immigration (INM) is concerned that American and Canadian visitors and tourists are taking jobs from Mexican workers by pretending to "volunteer" at local charities, businesses or events.


If you are a short-term visitor with an FMT tourist visa and do a small amount of charitable work here during your vacation, you are fine and there is no problem. You need do nothing extra.

If you do regularly voluntary non-lucrative work for one or more charities (say once a week or more) it would be advisable for you to get a notation in your FM2 or FM3 to let immigration know of your activities.

If the purpose of the volunteer effort is to raise money for any purpose whatsoever, a visa endorsement is mandatory.

To obtain this visa endorsement, a passport and FM2 or FM3 must be presented to your local INM office with a letter request (in Spanish,) together with a conformation letter of need (in Spanish) from the non-profit organization.

Each request is judged on its merits and the proper endorsement will be issued when approved by the INM office. If the volunteer work would/could displace a Mexican worker from employment the Immigration officer will decide if the requested endorsement for volunteer work is appropriate.

Volunteering for income producing activities (such as acting in a theater company) without authorization may result in a significant monetary fine and possibly jeopardize one’s tourist privileges in Mexico. If volunteering, you should keep a copy of your endorsed FM2 or FM3 with you at all times while performing that service.

This recent "crackdown" on volunteerism began because there are "too many tourists, visitors, non-working residents, etc" working illegally in bars, restaurants, real estate, theaters, etc. and Immigration wants to control these illegal activities. These violators are its main focus. At the same time, however, many volunteers, donating their time for good causes, can be caught in the crossfire. Remuneration of any type (food, discounts, event admissions) are counted in the same manner as cash payment.


People that volunteer their time as members of the boards of Condominium Associations (or any type of "board"), should also get a letter from the administrator of the condominium stating their roles and the fact that there is no remuneration. They should take this letter, along with their own letter to the Immigration Office.

These are not new regulations according to the officials. They have been on the books for a long time. Immigration is being more aggressive about enforcement because of perceived and real abuses.


Here are only a few of the many opportunities to do volunteer work in Mexico.









http://www.inea.gob.mx (in Spanish)








http://www.volunteerabroad.com/Mexico.cfm (101 Volunteer Abroad programs in Mexico)


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