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Employment in Argentina

  • After overcoming one of the worst economic crises ever, Argentina‚Äôs economy is on the up again. GDP growth rates have steadied creating more job opportunities for both locals and expats.
  • It‚Äôs normally your employer who sponsors your visa and entry permit so many expats wait until they have a confirmed job offer before moving to Argentina.
  • If you are not simply transferring within your company, the classifieds section of broadsheet newspaper is the best place to start looking for work. Please note that the job hunt in Argentina often requires a good grasp of the Spanish language.

Recent decades have not exactly made working in Argentina a more appealing prospect to expats. The country has been severely affected by several economic crises, starting in the 1990s, but in recent years the Argentinean government has focused on economic development, and it appears to be overcoming the crises. A century ago, in the early 1900s, as countless immigrants were moving to Argentina, it was among the ten wealthiest nations worldwide. In 2013, the effects of the crises were still obvious and Argentina posted just the 75th highest GDP per capita. Half way through 2016, however, Argentina has the 26th highest GDP per capita in the world

The several years of depression in the late 1990s also led to a number of socio-economic problems, which rendered working in Argentina a questionable prospect. The country struggled with rising fiscal deficits and national debt, and capital flight to other nations was a big concern. Fortunately, these aspects are no longer such a struggle for Argentina, however, rampant inflation and, in turn, astronomical prices continue to discourage domestic consumption among the lower and middle classes, and unemployment rates are still relatively high. The Argentinian government is now focusing on social inclusion paired with economic development, in the hope that this will decrease the gap between social classes.

Crisis Averted

In the early 2000s, social tensions heightened and erupted in political turmoil and public riots. Fortunately for people working in Argentina today, the economy seems to be on the mend.

Although economic growth experienced a temporary setback during the recession of 2008 and 2009, the growth rate for 2010 and 2011 rose to around 8-9%. By the end of 2015, however, the GDP growth rate had levelled out to a steady 2.1%, proving that Argentina has overcome the crises.

This gradual recovery and the hope it has inspired in the Argentine economy have once again made working in Argentina an attractive option for expatriates. Inflation does remain high, but unemployment has declined to a steady 6% after hovering around 10-15% in the early 2000s.

Economic Overview

Although the economy is still recovering, there is much to be said in favor of working in Argentina. The country is rich in natural resources, such as lead, zinc, and precious metals, and energy sources like coal, petroleum, and uranium. Moreover, while agriculture accounts for just 5% of the labor force, its export-oriented agribusiness is quite important. Thanks to cattle-breeding especially, food-processing is a major sub-sector of the Argentine industrial landscape.

The service sector is by far the largest branch of Argentina’s economy. Not only does it account for more than 60% of the GDP, but over 70% of all people working in Argentina are employed in that industry. Buenos Aires in particular is a veritable hub for those working in Argentina’s tertiary sector.

Has the economy finally recovered?

Besides the steady economic growth for 2015, the conditions for investment in Argentina have also somewhat improved. Personal consumption is on the upswing, although it is still hampered by the high inflation figures.

In recent years, a few different sectors have experienced growth in particular, which is hopefully indicative of further positive developments. In fact, the country’s automotive, textile, and appliances industries have all posted record growth figures, so expats with such qualifications could possibly find their way to working in Argentina here.

The country’s tech sector looks to have the potential to become another strong pillar among Argentina’s exports, which at the moment rely heavily on mining and agriculture. Fields such as energy, information and communications technology, nano technology, green technology, military defense, and aerospace may offer career opportunities for highly qualified foreign specialists working in Argentina.

Argentina: Visas, Job Hunting, Pensions

Working Visa

As an expat looking for work in Argentina, you require a visa and work permit ‚Äď except, of course, if you are a resident of¬†a MERCOSUR country, in which case you simply need a 23 L MERCOSUR visa. Most other expatriates need a 23 A or E working visa. This caters specifically to migrant workers or scientists and specialized personnel.

The application process can be started at the Argentine Embassy in your country of origin or in Argentina, via your future employer.

In both cases, the application is handled by the Dirección Nacional de Migraciones(National Immigration Office). Usually, your employer applies for your permiso de ingreso (entry permit) at the DNM. We describe this process in more detail in our article on moving to Argentina.

Visa Application

When you apply for your visa, you need to book an appointment at your nearest Argentine consulate and bring the following paperwork along with your application:

  • Your valid passport
  • Three passport photos
  • Your original employment contract signed by your employer OR a notarized certification for your intra-company transfer
  • Your birth certificate and, as applicable, marriage certificate and divorce decree
  • A certificate of good conduct
  • An affidavit of international criminal records
  • An official certified copy of your degree certificate or professional credentials

This list may not apply to every single case and does not necessarily contain all details. For more information on your visa situation, you should never hesitate to contact the nearest Argentine consulate.

Job Hunting

To obtain a working visa for Argentina, you must first have secured a job, as the visa is tied to your contract with an Argentina-basedcompany. Unless, of course, you are sent on an intra-company transfer or a similar expat assignment, you should therefore go job hunting before starting your visa application. You should note, however, that the job search process from abroad definitely requires proficiency in the Spanish language.

Whereas many businesspeople in Argentina do speak English, it is not always the preferred language, even in international business. As such, for business meetings or contract negotiations, it could be worthwhile to bring along a certified interpreter. To improve your prospects, though, brushing up on your Spanish first is advisable.

Job Search Resources

As in other countries, the classifieds of major broadsheet newspapers are a good place to start looking for job openings. The biggest players on Argentina’s print market are La Nación and Clarín. Several foreign-language papers could be of interest too: The Buenos Aires Herald is an English-language daily, and the Argentinisches Tageblatt is a niche weekly catering to the German community.

It could also pay off to inquire with your home country’s chamber of commerce in Argentina and/or the Argentine chamber of commerce back home. This could also give you the opportunity to attend various business events focusing on trade and commerce between the two nations, which could be a good way to begin establishing a network of contacts. Alternatively, you should be able to find international recruiting agencies that are active in Argentina, too.

National Pension Plans

Most people in Argentina choose between paying into a social scheme for their retirement years or an individual account. For the public pension, the retirement age is 60 for women and 65 for men, provided that they have paid contributions for at least 30 years. As of January 2016, the basic monthly pension was 1,610 ARS (116 USD).

Planning Your Pension

To find out how your move to Argentina affects your pension plans back home, please get in touch with the social security administration of your home country. Oftentimes, the regulations distinguish between intra-company assignments and other forms of employment abroad.

For example, in some cases expats on intra-company transfers are in fact required to keep paying into the national pension funds at home. Similarly, some self-made expats with other forms of work contracts remain covered by their home country’s social security scheme.

Social Security Agreements

Even if you are still covered by your home country’s social security scheme, you may have to pay social security contributions in Argentina. Send an inquiry to the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security to find out if you may have these contributions refunded upon leaving Argentina.

At the time of writing, Argentina has social security agreements with a number of different countries. It has bilateral agreements with Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Chile, France, Peru and Slovenia. The social security agreements with the MERCOSUR countries and the countries that are part of the Ibero-American treaty are all based on multilateral treaties. Such agreements usually exempt expats of these nationalities from social security payments to the Argentine pensions fund if covered by comparable systems at home. You should refer to your closest Argentine consulate to learn more.

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