Aside from a favorable exchange rate, Buenos Aires is attractive to many people looking to move or live abroad for some time because of its relatively lenient visa policy.
As a disclaimer, I must state I am in no way schooled in the legalities of immigration or visa policy. This blog post, if anything, should serve as a source for general background information about navigating or better understanding how the visa process works in Argentina, specifically for those from the U.S. I have drawn from personal as well as friends’ experiences in writing this, and as often is the case with bureaucratic topics, it’s all still a little fuzzy.
To begin: Expect to pay a US $140 reciprocity fee at the international airport when you arrive.
It is good for ten years, and while the knee-jerk reaction might be to call this unfair, know that we (in the U.S.) charged them first. Chile and Bolivia I know also levy a similar fee, and to visit Brazil you not only have to pay, but go through the paperwork to get a tourist visa at the embassy. (Drop a comment if you want more information on that front, especially if you plan to do it from Buenos Aires.)
Know you are good for 90 days.
Upon entering the country you have 90 days of touristic freedom in the country. You can legally stay for that long, though because you are on a tourist visa you cannot legally work in the country. That said, and to merely state the fact, there are under-the-table jobs to be found, which many extranjeros (foreigners) do.
Hop in and out.
Many foreigners looking to stay longer than 90 days schedule a trip around the time their visa is about to expire. From what I understand, there is all well and fine as long as you are out before your 90 days are up. A common border-hopping drip is to take the ferry over to Colonia, Uruguay for the day. You also could use it as an excuse for a weekend or week-long trip to a neighboring country should time and budgets allow. I have heard of airline employees demand to see a ticket out of Argentina when people are entering for within that 90-day period as is (apparently) legally stipulated. The people I know who have been in those situations have said something like they are going to spend some time taking classes or learning Spanish and didn’t want to book their ticket for three months out because they are not sure yet of when around then they will go. If you do overstay your visa, you could be fined (something like AR $300 from hearsay) at your exit point, whether at a ferry station or the airport.
Get your work visa paperwork ahead of time.
If you think there is some chance you will want to obtain a legal, on-the-books job in Argentina, it is wise to get ahead with the paperwork and planning while you are still Stateside. Universally, bureaucracy can be frustrating and slow, and you might as well cut as much waiting around as possible out of one end of the equation, which is that of getting the necessary papers from your home country.
Again, I must reiterate that I am not a legal representative or even well versed HR professional, but this is what I did that worked for me then, and it will give you at least a general idea of what is necessary. Once you begin to interview and pursue a job in Argentina, ask about the paperwork requirements to verify you are up-to-date with what you have. Below is the general list I used, copied and pasted from something I received from a more informed professional, of the items you can and should get in the U.S. (though it doesn’t matter much for photocopies and photographs). The details of this can be found on your state government and FBI sites.
Requirements to apply for the Temporary Resident Visa (Worker Visa)
• Passport with the last entrance in the current country.
• Birth Certificate with the Apostille Seal.
• Criminal record Certificate/s of the source country or of the countries where the person has lived for the last five years. “To have lived” means that there has to be entrance permission in the passport to said country that is neither tourism nor business permission. Student Visas require this certificate. This certificate must have the Apostille Seal.
• Complete Copy of the Passport, including all pages, even those which are not used.
• Photograph 4×4 2 photographs 4cm. x 4 cm.
For U.S. citizens:
The Birth Certificate can be applied for in the registry offices which are connected to each State (see http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm). Some states allow the request to be made by mail or even via web. Once the certificate has been received, a Seal of Apostille shall be obtained. It depends on each state.
The Criminal Record Certificate shall be issued by the FBI. You can download the form from this link. The other instructions are contained in http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/fprequest.htm.
When obtaining the Criminal Record Certificate, you can denote on your Cover Letter that the document be sent to a person other than yourself. Just make sure to warn that person that it is coming. The FBI cannot, however, mail to a government agency. Make sure all information is filled out correctly. Additionally, it is highly recommended to send it via a private courier service, like Federal Express, and include a prepaid envelope for return. Then you can track the package.
Once the certificate has been received, you shall obtain the Apostille Seal. The FBI does not apostille nor notarize. This service can be provided by the home state. Make sure to state which country the document is needed for so it is explicit.
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