Work Abroad but earn in USD

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Keeping Argentina a Secret

There was a comment just posted to my previous post about the Washington Post article. I wanted to repost it here and then comment.

Reader's Comment

Interesting article. Part of me doesn't like seeing this stuff, but I suppose it's good for BA at the end of the day, which is good. The average person attracted to BA by reading this story in the Washington Post has got to be preferable to the avergae person attracted there by reading the recent story in New York Magazine.

Buenos Aires Is No Longer A Secret

Over the last three years (but especially over the last 6 months) there have been so many stories about Buenos Aires and how it is really making a comeback -- and becoming an expat paradise. The fact is, the secret is out. I suppose you could consider me and everyone else blogging about Buenos Aires as part of "the problem", since there are hundreds of people reading this blog everyday, figuring out what a great place Buenos Aires is.

I don't think it really makes sense to try and keep it a secret though. If you look around the world at the type of people who usually emigrate, the vast majority are economically distressed people at the bottom of the society's social ladder. The well-off are not usually anxious to leave a country that's allowed them to do well. This is why you'll see countries with reactionary anti-immigrant politics as they attempt to keep out the "foreign hordes" of uneducated people who flock to a country in search of better opportunity.

Why We're Coming

What's happening here in Buenos Aires is a different animal, however. You have a lot of unskilled immigrants coming here, sure, but you also have a lot of successful and well-off people who are coming here. They're doing this not because they want to be paid more (because that won't happen), but because they like the lifestyle and the culture. I really disagree a lot with what the Argentine in the Washington Post article said about how people are coming here just for the cheap living. That is certainly a part of the equation, but by no means the main reason. If we all wanted cheap living, we could all just move to Bombay. The reason people are here is because of the culture, not in spite of it.

Argentines have nothing to fear from the expats who are coming here. Although perhaps this will be obvious to most readers of this blog, I will point out that immigration and emigration flows have long been used by historians and economists as a barometer of a country's performance and success. When a country has large inflows of people, it means it is doing something right. When there are large outflows of people, you know that things have gotten so bad that people have to leave. The fact that there are so many people from the U.S. and Europe who are flocking here is something that Argentines can be proud of.

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Washington Post: Expats Migrating South For Low Stress and Cheap Food

The Washington Post just published a recent article called Expatriate Games, about the flood of expatriates from the U.S. and elsewhere who are heading to Buenos Aires for the low-stress lifestyle and the cheap food.

Low Stress?

Usually one wouldn't think of moving to a city with 10 million people as a way to escape a high stress lifestyle. I would think about moving to a beach somewhere. I think what happens after moving here, however, is that people discover there is more of a work/life balance here than in places like New York. The only people I hear about working 16 hour days are other American expatriates who moved here.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Getting a Work Visa

Today's question comes from an Irish reader who moved to Argentina on a work contract and is now in the process of getting his DNI and CUIL. He seemed very confused, so I thought I'd shed some light on his situation.

Reader's Question

I moved here 3 months ago with a company (permanent contract) and they got me a 12 month visa and are applying for my DNI (and CUIL I think) right now. It was all done through lawyers (and broken Spanish and English but thats what I gather). I have asked a few times can I apply for residency when I have my DNI, but I never get a straight answer. Do I need to renew this visa after 12 months? Is it tied to my current position? When I have the DNI, am I home free?

If You Have a Work Visa, You Have Residency

You already have residency. If you have a visa, you have residency. What you have is called "temporary residency". In fact, we both have the same visas -- temporary residency visas. The difference is that your visa is sponsored by a firm and mine is based on the "rentista" concept of an individual who can support himself within the country.

Once you get your DNI, nothing will change. The DNI is just an identity document that allows you to show people that you are a legal resident of the country. In fact, after you get your DNI, you'll note that it will have an expiration date -- it will expire on the same day your visa expires. The simple fact of obtaining a DNI does not give you carte blanche to stay in the country as long as you wish. You'll need to continue to renew your visa each year or you won't have legal status.

Restrictions with Your Working Visa

I didn't know whether or not the work visa was tied to a company, so I asked the people over at ARCA to clarify this. The answer is, yes, the visa is tied to your company. In fact, the permit is actually given to the company, giving them permission to bring a worker in from outside the country. If you leave your job or are fired, you're obligated to leave the country. If you want to change jobs, you'll need to leave the country and your new company will need to start the process all over again.

When you get a work visa, the company is actually taking on the responsibility that you will not become an indigent person and become a burden for the government. That's why the working visa is a petition submitted by the company you're working for. Even though you already had your working visa approved, the problem is that it will expire in 9 months. At this point, you will need to renew your visa. Your firm should do this for you if they want to keep you on as a worker.

Getting a Permanent Visa

There is one glimmer of hope, however. When you go to make the third renewal, your visa lawyer can petition for a permanent visa to be granted instead of a working visa and then you'll avoid the whole visa rigamarole from then on out. Its the equivalent of a "green card" that gives you the right to come and go as you please and live in the country indefinitely. I'm in the middle of doing my second renewal this month and I'll be doing my third renewal around this time next year, so I'll let everyone know how the process works a year from now.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Most Popular Leader of the Americas: Nestor Kirchner

Mexican polling firm Mitofsky puts Kirchner's approval rating at 87%, the highest approval rating of any leader in all of the Americas, north or south. I think it is safe to say that, barring a very major scandal, Kirchner is going to be re-elected in a landslide.

Expats can expect the 1:3 dollar-peso exchange rate to continue for at least the next half decade while the government attempts to re-industrialize the country. The low peso exchange rate not only favors an export-driven economy, but it also stimulates tourism, and makes it harder for importers to undercut local producers.