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.
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.