Another glaring difference is that in the U.S. the process is cumbersome but clear. One almost always knows what the next step is. In Argentina, even the folks who are behind the desk don't always know what the next step is. A person has to hope he gets a knowledgeable person who feels like being helpful that day.
However, I will say that the attitudes of the Argentines seems to be much better. The U.S. immigrations desk jockeys were some of the most rude and unprofessional I've ever experienced.
Having finally obtained all of the needed documents I will travel to Bariloche next week and submit my papers to the migrations office. Without a doubt they will inform me that some of my documents are wrong and that I am missing others. Even though their website clearly states the documents needed....it will not be right.
You may be asking yourself why I am being so pessimistic. The answer is that I'm actually being realistic. I have been traveling to Argentina for several years and have lived in Patagonia for exactly one year today full time. I have learned to lower my expectations in order to just survive. Otherwise, I would go absolutely crazy.
Here is a list of the documents I will bring:
- Birth certificate (from the State of birth not a Hospital copy, Appostiled, translated and "stamped" by college of Translators in Argentina).
- FBI Record check (Argentina will only accept record if it is less then 6 mos. old, and needs to be translated same as Birth certificate). FBI criminal record check must be appostiled by the Secretary of State in order to be valid. A State criminal check will not work.
- US. Passport (ALL pages photo copied (even blank pages), if passport is of "old" type you must get it translated).
- An Argentina Criminal Record check (Antecedentes Penales).
- My son's DNI who was born in Argentina (all pages photo copied). Later found out I needed to bring the actual document in addition to copies.
- I will also be utilizing my son's birth certificate in lieu of my spouse’s birth certificate...
- 4 passport photos ... get them taken in Argentina and ask for DNI photos because passport photos are too large and don't give the proper profile.
- $600 pesos. The immigration office will give you a piece of paper to take to the national bank. You will pay them and they will stamp your receipt which you will need to return to the immigration office for proof of payment.
UPDATE January 13, 2012:
Well, I still haven't been to Bariloche to start my 'tramites'. I stopped by the registro civil on a hunch just in case I needed something else. She indicated that I had everything that I needed except one thing. She said I needed to go to the gendarmaria in Esquel to start my tramites for my DNI. This was the first I had heard of this and, in fact, had heard the opposite. My understanding is that you can't get your DNI without first beginning the process of getting your residency.
So, I went to the gendarmaria and, of course, THE migraciones guy was not there. I returned today and sat down with him to discuss my 'case'. He went through all my paper work and checked it off on a little list that he had. Then he handed it all back to me and said I need to go to Bariloche to begin the process.
Why I had to go to this guy, I do not know. I already knew that I had everything that I needed to begin. So, I was delayed one more week for nothing. Next week I will head North to Bariloche come hell or high water. Stay tuned!
UPDATE January 19, 2012:I went to Bariloche to the migraciones office and was pleasantly surprised by their professional attitude. They were friendly and very helpful. Of course there were a few things that I was missing which I completely expected. First, I had made some passport photos in the U.S. and brought them with me knowing I would need them. They said the photos were to big for them to use and insisted that I have new ones made. Fortunately, just around the corner is a little print shop that was used to doing this for gringos. That had me in and out in a matter of minutes. They also gave me a 'coupon' which I was required to take to the Banco Nacional and pay $600 pesos and then return with the receipt stamped. This was a 50 minute wait in line. By the time I returned it was 3 minutes past 1pm. 3 Minutes past closing time. Fortunately for me there were some other gringos asking questions there so they had to stay open until they left. This is the first time I have ever seen a government office open even one second past closing time. What luck! One thing I didn't expect was for them to ask me for my son's original birth certificate and his DNI. I was made to believe that I needed copies of each of them. Fortunately, they said that I didn't have to return to Bariloche to show them but instead I could go to the Genarmaria and show the migracions officer there. I have been there twice and they told me he was out but would be there the next day. Each time I return he seems to be out. So, I'm playing cat and mouse with this guy. So, now I have a paper that says I have a 'certificado de residencia precario'. I'm unsure as to the exact rights that gives me (if any) but I aim to find out. Stand by....
UPDATE January 20, 2012
Today I managed to find the migraciones guy in his office at the Gendarmaria in Esquel. I showed him my son's DNI and original birth certificate. The migraciones office in Bariloche sent me back with a 'coupon' and this office told me to go to the post office and pay the $40 peso fee and get the receipts stamped. I did so and brought them back to him along with a copy of my newly issued "Certificado De Residencia Precario". He indicated that he would send them to the migraciones office. In retrospect of his previous attendance record I wish I had just sent them myself. Another interesting tidbit. While I was either in Bariloche or Esquel one of these migraciones geniuses gave me a document that belonged to someone else! Yes! It was proof of a marriage and I'm guessing it was pretty damned important. So,
Early next week I need to go back and return this document! I must say this turn of events has not instilled much confidence in the 'system'. That's not to say I had much confidence in the system to begin with....
So, apparently I don't have voyage to Chile every 90 days to stamp my passport. Instead, I can go to the Gendarmaria in Esquel and have them renew the certificate.....I guess every 6 months. I really need to look into it. As of now, it is just a waiting game. Who knows how many months/years it will take for them to get around to approving my request. Hopefully sooner than later but my expectations are very low based on years of experience.
UPDATE April 27, 2012
I am absolutely stunned. Less than 2 months after submitting my documents I have received my DNI and permanent residency. After all of the gathering of documents and the huge pain in the butt I have the document. Read my post about it... http://argentinagringos.blogspot.com.ar/2012/04/permanent-residency-in-argentina.html