Get Your Residency Visa Early
Today I received an e-mail from a reader asking for information about getting a residency visa for a move she was planning on making in May. This would give her just two months to get the visa. Needless to say, I recommended that she start her visa process the very next day. Everyone needs to realize that Argentina is not the United States. If you think bureaucracy is slow in the USA, just wait until you start to deal with Argentina.
Dealing With The Consulate
After I already had been approved by the Department of Migrations in Buenos Aires, it took 2 weeks just for me to get an appointment at Argentina's consulate in the USA. Why? Because they had just one lady who handled visas for the entire Southwest United States. In fact, she only took phone calls two days a week for a 3 hour period. Thank God I had a good Argentine lawyer who could deal with these people.
When I actually did go to the consulate in person, she was very polite and kind, but it was clear that processing visas in a timely manner is not a priority for the Argentina Consulate. I was also lucky to have started my visa application well before I intended to move to Argentina permanently. My visa was approved nearly a year ago and I'm still not living in Argentina on a full-time basis.
The Importance of Good Contacts
Having good contacts is the key... a good lawyer can save you months and months of hassle. Before I started using my lawyer, trying to get anyone to help me with the visa was impossible. There was no motivation on the part of the people at the consulate to answer any of my questions. Once my lawyer started the process, though, everything went quickly. It isn't about threatening people with lawsuits either. Its about personal relationships.
People are willing to deal fairly with someone they know and are used to working with. When I finally arrived at Migrations in Buenos Aires, I met my lawyer in person for the first time and watched as he went and informed the government officials in the waiting room that I had arrived. I was quickly moved ahead of the 70+ other people waiting for their papers to be processed in Migrations.
I found out later that most arrived at 5:00 AM in the morning to queue up so that their names could be added to the list. People arriving after 6:30 AM will find that the line is so long already that they will have no chance of being seen during the day. People literally arrive at 5:00 AM in the morning and say until the close of business, waiting for their name to be called.
Because of my lawyer's personal relationship with the people here at migrations, I not only got my visa processed quickly, I was spared this ordeal of waiting all day long. I was able to arrive at 9:00 AM and be done and out of there by 10:30 AM and still have a productive day.
My Visa Lawyer's Contact
Since so many people have asked, I'm just going to post the contact info here on the blog:
Argentina Residency & Citizenship Advisors
USA Phone: +1 (888) 748-3435
To the couple starting their visa process tomorrow -- good luck! I certainly hope you can get it done in time. To everyone else reading, start your visa today. It doesn't matter if you won't move there for another 6, 9, 12 months. Start early, be prepared! There's no downside to taking care of things ahead of time.