Teaching English in Mexico: Can I Work Under a Tourist Visa?

The canals in Xochimilco. Another benefit of living and working in Mexico City!
Another reader question today. Claire asks:

We understand that its possible to work/find a job under the tourist visa, but some say permits are checked and you may be deported if you fail to present one. I am not sure how accurate this is, but we'd rather not take this chance as we may find we want to settle down permanently in Mexico.

I have NEVER heard of anyone being deported for teaching English with a tourist visa in Mexico. Many private English schools are sensitive to the fact that foreigners often don't have work visas, nor do the schools want to pay for you to get one. Instead, a small tax called recibos may be deducted from your paycheque in lieu of a proper visa.

More formal institutions like high schools and universities will need you to either have a work visa already or will help you get one. If you're confused about this process, contact your local Mexican embassy for information on how to get a work visa.

Or you could simply find private English students through Segundamano and Craigslist who will neither care if you have a visa nor deduct recibos.

Let me say this again: no one is going to be deported for teaching English on a tourist visa in Mexico. You may be deported for engaging in protest activities against the government but not for teaching on a tourist visa.

I've even known people to work in offices and other non-ESL activities on tourist visas with no problem whatsoever.

The moral of this story is that, at least right now, Mexican immigration is pretty lax regarding work permits. As long as you leave every six months on your tourist visa you'll be fine.

If anyone at the border asks what you've been up to, just say either you're backpacking or you work freelance. I've never received blowback from either of those responses. But then again, I'm a young blonde woman and a Canadian. Sadly, this goes a long way towards getting officials off my back.

Check out these resources that helped me when I moved to Mexico City:
Moving to Mexico and need a place to crash? Click here to get $25 USD credit with Air B&B.


Anonymous said...

People are following illegal ways just because they want to move to another country but right now work visa usa cost is not very much expensive and a person can easily migrate without doing anything illegal.

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