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Moving to Argentina

A comprehensive guide to moving to Argentina

When expats think of moving to Argentina, a few different things usually come to mind: Tango, soccer, the first South American pope. That is not all there is to Argentina, however. Read on to find useful information on your new home, from its people and geography to visa requirements for expats.

Relocating to Argentina

  • Argentina is a cosmopolitan, diverse country with a growing urban population, stretching over a 2,766,890 square meter area.

  • Argentina has overcome its unstable political and economic past, and its steady economy and peaceful political state make it a very attractive expat destination.

  • People from almost 80 different countries can enter Argentina without a visa, provided that they are staying for a period of under 90 days. If you are planning on working while there or staying longer, however, you must apply for a visa of temporary residency.

European emigrants have been moving to Argentina ever since Spanish colonial rule in South America. As a typical “immigration nation,” it originally attracted just the Spanish, but in the 19th century Italian migrants started arriving too. In the years between 1870 and 1930, estimates suggest that 7 million people from mostly Spain and Italy made the move to Argentina.

An Ethnically Diverse, Cosmopolitan Nation

Nowadays, Argentines of Spanish or Italian descent make up the biggest groups among the populace, and only 3% of the population identify as Amerindians or mestizos (mixed-race). The indigenous people, mostly Mapuche and Guaraní, live in Argentina’s rural areas.

Most of the population lives in the cities (92.5% as of 2011), and this figure is expected to rise to 92.2% by 2020. While the majority of Argentines are indeed urbanites of European descent, you will also find Japanese communities, Chinese and Korean immigrants, and a significant number of Middle-Eastern people from Syria and Lebanon, who also decided to move to Argentina.

As such, it is no wonder that the country is considered a bit of a cosmopolitan nation. While Spanish is the official language, Italian, English, German, French, and many indigenous languages are spoken in Argentina as well. Native inhabitants in the Andes speak Quechua, and the various immigrants brought their own languages with them.

From Antarctica to the Atlantic

Argentina is an immense nation second in size only to Brazil in Latin America, and the eighth largest country in the world. Expats, however, are most likely to be moving to Argentina’s urban centers, particularly the Buenos Aires metropolitan region, where it is estimated that just under 20 million people live as of 2016. . Still, many are fascinated by the country’s amazing geography and biodiversity.

If you plan to explore the country after your move to Argentina, you are bound to be astonished at its sheer size and variety as well. Stretching about 3,544 kilometers from north to south and 1,025 from east to west, Argentina ranges from the subtropics to Antarctica, from the peaks of the Andes to the Atlantic coast.

Progressing Politics and a Growing Economy

Unfortunately, in recent decades, Argentina has not exactly been most famous for its natural beauty or economic wealth. The country’s political situation has rather been plagued by internal unrest. In the late 1970s, this resulted in eight years of oppressive military rule. As such, fewer people contemplated moving to Argentina.

In 1983, however, democratic rule was finally reestablished, as the Argentine government made commendable efforts to bring order to the nation. Nevertheless, the late 1990s and early 2000s were marked by economic problems and financial panic, which once again led to widespread public protests.

The recent disputes between Great Britain and Argentina over the Falklands has led to some violent protests, so expats are advised to avoid these demonstrations when possible.

Fortunately, moving to Argentina is an option that has once more become attractive to expats. When the nation celebrated the bicentennial of its independence in 2010, its economy was definitely on the rebound. This positive trend of increased trade and investment seems to have continued in the following years as well. Granted, the GDP growth rate has fluctuated, reaching an all-time high of 4.8% in 2010, but the economic growth is definitely moving in the right direction at 2,4% in 2015.

Economic and political troubles notwithstanding, expatriates can look forward to a diverse and exciting country when moving to Argentina.

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Visas and Work Permits for Argentina

Entry Requirements

Anyone intent on entering Argentina needs a valid passport. Whether you must also apply for a visa depends on both your nationality and the purpose of your stay. The same goes for the type of visa you require.

Some choose to go on a short fact-finding trip before embarking on their expatriate assignment in Argentina. Nationals from close to 80 countries can enter Argentina without a visa and stay for up to 90 days. If your home country is not on this list, you will need a tourist visa (category 24 A). Depending on your country of origin, a tourist visa allows you to stay in Argentina for 30 to 90 days. Simply ask at your nearest consulate. In order to apply for a tourist visa, you need to submit the following documents at your nearest embassy:

  • Two completed application forms

  • Copy of your valid passport

  • Two recent passport size photographs

  • Six months’ bank statements

  • Proof of accommodation lasting the duration of your stay

  • Copy of your round trip flight reservations

Once all of the documents are received, an interview will normally be scheduled.

The 24 H professional visa is for short business trips. The visa usually allows for stays of up to 30 days for applicants who wish to enter Argentina with the intent to do business or attend any conferences or congresses. Along with your two completed application forms, be sure to bring the following documents when you apply:

  • Your valid passport

  • Four passport photographs

  • A return flight booking

  • A travel agency itinerary or hotel reservations

  • Three months’ bank statements

  • An invitation from a company in Argentina

Visa of Temporary Residence

Expats who plan on staying in Argentina for more than three months must obtain a visa of temporary residence. Several visas fulfill this purpose, most importantly the working visa.

The working visa category is sub-divided into two separate visas. Which one you need depends on your reason for coming to Argentina. The 23 A visa applies to the majority of people who move to Argentina for any salaried activity and lasts one year, however, it is fairly straightforward to extend this visa for longer. Category 23 E, meanwhile, caters specifically to so-called scientists and specialists as well as some managers, technicians, and administrative staff.

Expats from much of South America may not need to get such visas, however. MERCOSUR, the South American customs union, includes the nations of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Citizens of the MERCOSUR countries should inquire at their nearest Argentine mission about the MERCOSUR visa.

Obtaining an Entry Permit and Working Visa

Expats from non-MERCOSUR states applying for a temporary working visa need to obtain an entry permit (permiso de ingreso) first.

In most cases, this is handled either by your future Argentine employer, your branch office in Argentina, or an Argentine immigration lawyer. They will help you cut through the red tape and tell you which documents you are required to submit. They will also apply for the permit on your behalf. It is then usually sent to the consulate or uploaded to its visa application system once ready.

When you have the entry permit, you can make an appointment to apply for a working visa. In addition to your application, you need the following:

  • Your valid passport

  • Three passport photographs

  • Your employment contract signed by your future 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 and an affidavit stating that you don’t have an international police record

  • An official certified copy of your degree certificate or professional credentials

Finally, you will need to attend a personal interview with consular staff and pay the application fees.

Spouses, parents, and children under 18 can apply for a visa as dependents. Except for work-related documents, they must submit the same paperwork as the applicant they will be accompanying.

In some cases, the working visa is valid up to one year and can be extended via the National Immigration Office. In others, it is valid for however long the entry authorization from the immigration office stipulates.

Please also consult the National Immigration Office for further information.

Updated on: September 09, 2021

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