How to Apply for Refugee Status in Mexico

If you are afraid of returning to your country, you can apply for protection as a refugee in Mexico. The process is free and confidential.

You will find detailed information about the process of applying for protection as a refugee in Mexico below.

Submitting an Application

You can apply for refugee status at the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) in Mexico City, Acayucan in the state of Veracruz, Tenosique in the state of Tabasco, Tapachula and Palenque in the state of Chiapas, Monterrey in the state of Nuevo León, Tijuana in the state of Baja California, or the Office of Immigration Regulation of the National Institute of Immigration (INM) in the rest of the country within 30 business days following your arrival to Mexico.

If you have been in Mexico for more than 30 days, contact the authorities and explain why you couldn’t contact them before.

COMAR will ask you to fill out a form explaining why you left your country. If your family is with you, don’t forget to include them in the application. If they are in your country of origin, you must provide that information.

When you submit your application, it will be accepted by COMAR, which then issues a Certificate proving that you have started the process. They will give you a temporary Unique Population Registry Code (CURP), which you can use to perform other procedures and access public services.

When you apply for protection as a refugee, you have the right to not be sent back to your country. With the Certificate, you can also apply for a Visitor Card for Humanitarian Reasons through the INM, which allows you to work while the application is being processed.

You can also contact COMAR from a migratory station and submit the application from there. Ask them to put you in touch with COMAR.

You are entitled to have a lawyer throughout the process. Contact UNHCR so we can assist you by recommending you one that will help you free of charge.

Assistance Interview

The purpose of this interview is to get to know you and identify your needs in order to facilitate your access to procedures and services.

Eligibility Interview

COMAR interviews you to understand the reasons why you left your country. You will also explain why you don’t want to or can’t go back. It is important that you provide as many details as possible.

If you have any information or documents related to your case, you should submit them, but you should know that you don’t need proof of what happened in your country.

The interview will be carried out individually. You may also choose to be interviewed by a man or a woman. Also, if you don’t speak Spanish, you are entitled to have an interpreter or translator during the process.

Application Decision

COMAR will study your case. They can take up to 55 business days (Monday through Friday, not including weekends and Mexican holidays) after the date indicated in your certificate to give you the result. This term is divided into 45 business days to make a decision, followed by 10 additional days to inform you of the result. In some cases, COMAR may extend the deadline another 45 business days.

Due to the COVID-19 health emergency, as of March 24, 2020 and until further notice, these terms are suspended.

What to Do after Receiving the Decision

If it is positive: In coordination with COMAR, you will go to the National Institute of Immigration (INM) to process your Permanent Residency in Mexico as a refugee. All your family members included in the application will be recognized as refugees and now your CURP will be permanent. Processing your permanent residency will allow you to live anywhere in Mexico.

If it is negative: You are entitled to appeal within 15 business days (Monday through Friday, not including Mexican holidays) following your notification. COMAR will then review your case for a second time. This can take up to 90 calendar days (Monday through Sunday). If you don’t have a lawyer free of charge, you can go to any branch of the Federal Public Defender’s Office.

If COMAR rejects your case a second time, you are entitled to receive the advice of a lawyer to continue the appeal before a judge.

Bear in mind that during the refugee status recognition process:

  • You must state the truth at all times;
  • If you don’t speak Spanish, you can request the assistance of an interpreter;
  • You must remain in the state where you submitted the application. If you want to go to another state, you must request COMAR’s authorization. Note that if you change states without COMAR’s authorization, your case may be dropped;
  • Go each week to the offices of COMAR or the INM where you submitted the application to sign the register indicating you are in the state;
  • Attend all interviews requested by COMAR.