Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to Deal with the Immigration Nightmare in Argentina

I never expected it to be easy, but I didn't know it would be this difficult to make my spouse a legal resident in Argentina. 

Apostilles
Argentine immigration won’t accept any document (birth certificate, marriage license, death certificate) unless it has an apostille. An apostille is a document that legalizes all forms of certificates and licenses from your home country so that they may be recognized in foreign countries. 

Get everything apostilled before you come to Argentina. If you don't, then getting your documents apostilled will be far more difficult and more expensive to do by mail. 

Notarize
Have your documents notarized as well. If you’re in the United States, the best place to get this done is at city hall. You can get your apostilles done there as well.

Background Check  You need to provide a background check from your home country. If you’re from the U.S., you can get this done through the FBI. You will need to provide them with a fingerprint card, which you can get the U.S. embassy to mail to you. You can also print out the form from the FBI website. The embassy WILL NOT perform background checks.  

Why The FBI Rejected Your Background Check  A lot of expats already living in Argentina have gotten their background check paperwork rejected by the FBI because the bureau is unable to read the fingerprints from the fingerprint card. To prevent this, make sure that you go to the federal police in whatever Argentine province you're in to get your fingerprints done. The fingerprinting process must be flawless. Any smearing will cause your background check application to get rejected. You may also want to get your fingerprints digitally printed on your fingerprint card. This process is more precise and stands a better chance of being accepted by the FBI. Once you’ve received your background check, have it notarized and apostilled. This has to get done in the States! 

Translate!  Your next step is going to be to bring all of the apostilled and notarized documents back to Argentina and have them translated by a legitimate translation company.

Time Table
You want to make sure that all of your documents are notarized, apostilled, translated and legalized before your immigration appointment in Argentina. All required documents must be presented together or they won’t process your residency application.

Avoid Immigration Lawyers
I've spoken with several locals about this and they've warned me to stay away from lawyers. In most cases, they'll charge you too much to do something that you can do yourself. Unless you commit a crime, you won't get deported in Argentina, and you can save yourself some money, and avoid getting conned by just doing it yourself.

Visa 
You can request one additional tourist visa a week before your original visa is about to expire. Visas are called prorroga in Argentina. You will be charged 300 Argentine pesos for the visa renewal. But with the country's economic flux, the cost is bound to rise, so check with Argentina's immigration offices.  You can always leave Argentina and reenter the country in order to get a new tourist visa. When you reenter, you will be asked a series of questions such as: 
  • What is your purpose for entering Argentina?
  • Why have you been making frequent visits to Argentina?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • Where will you be staying?
  • Do you have any friends or family here? 

I hope this information helps you to avoid some headaches and save you some money. Below are some links that might prove useful.

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/fingerprints_biometrics/guidelines-for-preparation-of-fingerprint-cards-and-association-criminal-history-information

http://www.migraciones.gov.ar/accesible/

http://argentina.usembassy.gov/

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