Work Abroad but earn in USD

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Visas & Annoyances

Today's question comes from a reader who wants to know whether he really needs to get a visa or not, based on his situation. I think this parallels a few other readers as well, so I'll go ahead and address this for today's article.

Reader's Question

I am a self employed consultant living in Miami Beach. I have worked out an arrangement with my clients here that will allow me to live in BA, and do my work for them via the net, get paid US dollars, and hopefully, live forever happy. Do I have to go through the huge visa rigamorole with DNIs etc., or can I get a student visa (or tourist), see how things work, and then apply for the DNI down the road? I am told I could just ferry over to Uruguay every 3 months, get stamped up, and on I go my merry way for another 3 months. Thanks for any advice!

Yes, You Need a Visa

The fact is, if you intend to be here for a long period of time, you need to get a visa. A tourist or business visa (given at the airport when you enter the country) is valid for only 90 days. It may be renewed for another 90 days, letting you stay in the country for a maximum of 180 days per year.

If you attempt the Uruguay method, you may be denied return entry if a consular official looks and actually counts the number of stamps in your passport to determine the number of days you've been in the country. Maybe its not likely, but do you really want to risk it?

Benefits of Having the Visa

Imagine living in the U.S. without a social security number. Everything you try to do would be a hassle. You couldn't get a bank account, you couldn't obtain utilities in your own name, you couldn't prove you had the legal right to reside in the country. Same situation when you're staying in Argentina without a visa and without a DNI.

Before I had my DNI, it was a pain to do everything. Blockbuster didn't even want to let me rent videos here! Ridiculous! Without a DNI it is a hassle to go through daily life, having to explain to everyone this big story about why you don't have a DNI and trying to convince everyone to break their normal procedure and use some other identification to allow you to buy whatever service you are trying to buy.

If you think its a hassle to go through the visa process, just wait until you try to live here without documents. That would be the real hassle. I'd also like to point out that if you don't like to deal with hassles for the visa and DNI, just contact ARCA to do the process for you. It's quite simple. You send them the documents, they get you the visa, guaranteed or your money back. It doesn't get easier than that.

It took me about 2 weeks to get the various documents I needed and one day to fly out to Los Angeles to get the consulate to put the visa stamp in my passport. In your case, you live in Miami and they have a consulate right there in Miami, so you don't even need to travel. It doesn't get easier than that. I think you'd have to be some kind of masochist to actually skip the visa / DNI process and try living here without them. Just think about it this way... you're investing a few hours of your time now to avoid daily hassles once you are here and the risk of being denied re-entry into the country. It's a good investment.

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Blogger Johnny said...

Thanks for the advise ! I'll contact the consulate here in Miami and/or ARCA. I do hope to stay in BA for a very extended period, but part of my ambivalence about pursuing the DNI was due to the possibility of my work situation not working out as I anticipate it will.

I want to add that I have been following this blog for some time now, and it is extremely helpful. In fact, I took your advise and opened a checking account with USAA yesterday (to be followed by adding on many of their other services). They were very helpful as you indicated they would be. Thanks again for the visa advise and all the rest !

9/28/2005 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger familiaoconnell said...


If you are in Argentina and want to get the visa, you dont need to go to the States to process your paperwork. Colonia, Uruguay has an Argentine Consulate and we (2 adults, 4 kids)were out of there in 15 minutes.

If you do get a visa/DNI but dont have an Argentina Drivers Lic. dont let them know you have an DNI if you are in an accident. Technically if you have a DNI you are not suppose to drive on a US Lic or International Lic (which no one ever asks for anyway).

If you buy a car, pay taxes etc here you need a CDI (like a taxpayer ID). You dont need a DNI to get one of these but a lawyer helps.

9/29/2005 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Crow said...

I hope I have found the place I have been looking for, it looks like it!
ok, now to the point:
I am in a situation that I haven't seen mentioned here (although I may have missed it). I met my girlfriend 3 years ago in the States, and after dating for a while, I decided to move here to Argentina to be with her. I've been here almost 2 years now, and EVERYTHING YOU HAVE SAID ABOUT LIVING HERE WITHOUT A DNI IS TRUE TO THE LETTER. The problem is, I found this out the hard way (actually living it and now trying to go through the process of obtaining one after the fact, so to speak. You may remember that fairly recently, here in argentina for a short period of time they made it very easy to get your temporary residency. I applied, and got it, so apparently, I'm here legally now for 2 years. When I started the process, I assumed that the process also involved my getting DNI, but when I finished the process, and asked about the DNI, I was informed that that was a TOTALLY DIFFERENT PROCESS THAT I HAD TO GO THROUGH WHICH WOULD NOT BE MADE ANY EASIER JUST BECAUSE I HAVE MY TEMPORARY RESIDENCY NOW...soooo...poo...back to square one. Long story short, is there any advice about how an north american expat already living in Argentina (Quilmes to be exact) can get a DNI without having to return stateside? I have my birthcert here, and was told that I had to go back to the states to get a stamp, but I've also heard varying stories that say that going back isn't

2/12/2006 09:47:00 PM  

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