Obtaining a visa can be a lengthy and expensive process. Fortunately, for foreigners wanting to relocate to Argentina, the laws and environment in this country are open and encouraging. Going through the legal process to get a visa does not necessarily incite the desire to immigrate illegally, as is the case in some countries. Argentina is welcoming to foreigners looking to relocate, and the government encourages the additional workforce and investment.
There are many different visa categories to keep in mind when preparing to move to Buenos Aires. The requirements change depending on your country of origin, under what circumstance you’re relocating to Argentina (study, work, retire), and the length of your intended stay (temporary or permanent). All of these will require documentation, such as a valid passport and criminal background checks, as well as forms specific to your status as an expatriate.
If you are planning a reconnaissance trip to Argentina, and you are from the US, EU, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or any of the Mercosur member countries, all you need is a valid passport. Upon entry, you will have an automatic temporary tourist visa that is valid for 90 days or 3 months (the terminology varies from time to time). Before the 90 days are up, you can apply for a one-time extension at any delegation of the National Immigration Office. The website is in Spanish, with a flawed but adequate English translation delineating visa requirements. For more information, see the section “You want to go on reconnaissance.”
It is illegal for foreigners to earn money in any way without a valid work visa. However, enforcement of this law is lax and many expats do live and work (earning cash) in Argentina for years without a valid visa. Because of economic instability, earning income under the table is still common in various economic sectors. In order to work legally in Argentina, the work visa process must be initiated by your Argentine employer before you arrive. For more information, see the section “You have a job and need to relocate.”
If you want to work in Argentina, but do not have a pre-existing work contract with an Argentine employer, you must apply for a permanent resident visa. These are incredibly difficult to obtain unless you have an Argentine relation. The exceptions to this are if you have a certain amount of capital and come as an investor or entrepreneur.
If you are coming to Argentina to study as a university student, the first step is to visit an Argentine consulate in your country and request the corresponding forms. The Ministry of Education has a web page (all in Spanish) that is specific for foreigners wishing to study in Argentina. For more information, see the section “You want to study.”
If you are coming to Argentina to retire, the visa process is similar to the work visa; however, the process is not initiated by an employer and a pre-existing work contract is not necessary. You have to be able to prove that your income is steady and that you can support yourself in Argentina, along with the validity of your citizenship, health, and background. For more information, see the section “You want to retire.”
There is no special process for obtaining an internship visa in Argentina, as there is no “intern” category specified in Argentina. You can enter the country under the 90-day tourist visa, and file for an extension if you intend to stay longer. As long as you will not be earning money in your internship, no special visa is required. Keep in mind, however, that legislation is always changing, so it is a good idea to check in with a consulate in your area in case of any recent changes.
There are groups who, for a fee, will help you through this process. One group of immigration lawyers who specialize in this area are Argentina Residency and Citizenship Advisors (ARCA). This group is recommended by many ex-pats currently residing in Buenos Aires, and they charge a flat fee instead of an hourly rate. The website is in English.