The Immigration Process
Today, I finally got my residence visa that allows me to stay in Argentina. Before, I had always been limited to 90 day stays, as per Argentine law. Although... some of my Argentine friends have always told me that I shouldn't bother with the requirements and stay as long as I want, "This isn't the United States," they say, "they government isn't going to do anything if you stay longer," I still prefer to do everything the legal way.
In addition to simply getting a residence permit which allows you legal residency, you also get a DNI. It's the equivalent of a social security number and it allows you to open bank accounts, turn on utility service, incorporate a local company, etc. You can't do anything in the country without a DNI, so it is worthwhile to get one.
When I finally got my visa from the consulate, they give me two little envelopes. One is taken by immigrations at the airport and the other is one that I must turn in to the "hall of records" within 19 days of my arrival, I believe. So, now I must find out where one of these records places is.
The process at the consulate was not bad. They simply take all your documents, check to make sure they are in good order, and issue the visa right there. The fee was just $100, which is very reasonable. The whole process took maybe two hours, which was made up of mostly waiting for the papers to be processed. I did find it funny that I was fingerprinted as well. I suppose they figure foreigners are more likely to commit a crime, so they want all the prints on file.
In fact, the biggest pain was getting all the documents in the first place. They required quite a few, which I'm going to name here just to show:
- Birth Certificate
- Medical Exam
- Verification of Doctor's Medical License
- Criminal History Report
- Signed Affidavit of No International Criminal Record
- Application Form
This, however, is only for the US portion of the immigration process. First you have to be approved for entry into the country by the Migrations Division within Argentina. I had a local lawyer take care of this for me and I highly recommend him. E-mail me if you'd like his contact information. He took care of everything for me and even negotiated with the director of migrations there on my behalf. I was a special case since I'm self employed and wasn't going to Argentina on behalf of a business. So, I had no letter of appointment to show them. Despite this, he was able to arrange things so that I could be admitted under a different visa program called "Visa De Rentista".
Using this Rentista program, you have to prove that you have a certain level of income from investments abroad and that you can transfer that money to support yourself in Argentina. Essentially, the government doesn't want you to become a burden on them, so they insist you have enough income to make your way in Argentina without having to find work and take a job from a local. My visa is valid for one year and I am told that I only have to renew it twice before it becomes permanent. Only at that point will I be an official permanent resident.
When I finally enter the country on my visa and get my DNI number, I'll have more information about that.