By Kevin Casey
Argentina is a welcoming country with relatively liberal entry and exit policies. It offers a helpful range of visa options, whether you’re contemplating a short visit, a longer-term stay, or eventual retirement. If you’re a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you don’t need a visa for an initial tourism or business stay of up to 90 days—just an undamaged passport with at least six months remaining validity.
Entering Argentina is typically straightforward, though if you’re crossing a land border rather than flying into an international airport, you and your belongings may be subject to extra scrutiny. Once in Argentina, be aware that police can demand to see your ID at any time (though such checks are rare), so it’s wise to carry at least a photocopy of your passport photo page with you, just in case.
While it’s possible to do a quick border run to Uruguay or Chile for a day or two and then return to Argentina for a new 90-day tourist stamp, this certainly isn’t a long-term solution for residency and is likely to raise a red flag with Immigration if it becomes a habit. Also, remember that as a U.S. citizen, if you want to cross into Brazil from Argentina’s north, you’ll need a visa for that country. If you’re traveling from Argentina into Paraguay by air instead, you can get a ‘visa on arrival’ at the Asuncion international airport that’s valid for multiple entries into Paraguay for up to 10 years (current cost $160, payable in USD cash).
The official way to extend your 90-day Argentina tourist visa is to apply for an extension at the Buenos Aires immigration office (www.migraciones.gov.ar).
Aside from the normal tourism stamp, Argentina offers several other handy visa options. Each family member, including dependent children, must apply for a separate visa. Essentially, whenever you apply for a student, work, medical, investment or retirement-focused visa, you’re also applying for temporary residency.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of Argentina’s more popular visa categories:
If you’re heading down to Argentina for specific medical treatment, you can apply for a one-year, multiple-entry Medical Visa, easily obtained in advance from an Argentina consular office in the U.S. Medical tourism is a big deal in Argentina because of the low prices and high-quality services available. Some of the specialist doctors in Argentina are U.S.-trained.
If you intend to study in Argentina for a period exceeding 90 days, you can apply for a multiple-entry Student Visa that’s initially valid for up to a year. Argentina breaks ‘study’ down into four categories (Formal Studies, Informal Studies, Partial Studies, and Student Exchange), with the relevant educational institution in Argentina having to apply on your behalf to the Argentina Migration Office for an Entry Permit. This is needed before you can apply for the Student Visa.
Similarly, the Internship and Cultural Exchange Visa is aimed at foreigners wanting to participate in a study-based internship or official cultural exchange with an educational institution in Argentina.
To perform any paid or unpaid work in Argentina, you need a work visa—you’re not allowed to work as a tourist. In most cases, the paperwork is all handled by your Argentinian employer, an Argentinian immigration lawyer or your company’s branch office in Argentina. They facilitate the bulk of the red tape on your behalf, ensuring you have all the required documents.
A Professional Visa (also called a Technical Visa) permits stays of up to 30 days (renewable) in situations where you’re briefly engaging in paid or unpaid activities in technology, sport, religion, art, or science. It applies to foreigners attending business conferences or participating in market research, exhibitions, or concerts.
For longer-term work, a Contracted Personnel—Temporary Residence Visa is required. It’s for foreigners contracted by businesses in Argentina or those conducting work internships. These visas allow you to live in Argentina for a year and can be renewed. In some cases, the work visa will come with a stipulated timeframe.
This visa is the most common choice for U.S. citizens seeking salaried employment in Argentina; there’s also a separate work visa category for scientists, technicians, specialists, and certain types of managers and admin staff. Another variation is the Secondment Visa, which is suitable for U.S. employees whose companies send them to Argentina to continue their work; with this visa, no labor contract is required.
You’ll need your Entry Permit granted before you can apply for a Work Visa.
The company you’ll be working for in Argentina must be authorized to employ overseas workers and be registered with the National Immigration Office (Direccion Nacional de Migraciones). Because you’re treated much like a local employee under this visa, you’ll also need to obtain a National Identification Document and a CUIL—a unique code for work identification.
When you apply for a work visa for Argentina, you can also organise visas for your dependents—they must submit all the same paperwork with the exception of employment-related records.
Pensioner (Pensionado) Visa
If you’re wanting to retire in Argentina, the process is pretty straightforward. One way is to prove your financial status as a retiree with a monthly pension income of at least 30,000 Argentine Pesos, around $725. A regular, permanent and banked pension income that meets or exceeds this minimum threshold qualifies you for the Pensioner (Pensionado) Visa. A police check is also required. As with all Argentina visa applications, the relevant paperwork must be translated into Spanish.
Financier (Rentista) Visa
If you don’t receive a pension but you do have a steady and guaranteed monthly income of at least 30,000 Argentine Pesos, you may be eligible for a Financier Visa, also known as a rentista or person of independent means visa. This visa is initially valid for a year and renewable up to three years. After that, you can apply for permanent residency and, if you wish, eventual Argentinian citizenship.
Under a Financier Visa, you can be self-employed or establish a business but you’re not allowed to work as someone else’s employee. Each time you renew your Financier Visa, you’ll have to prove your guaranteed income again and also show that it’s sufficient to adequately support you and any family members living with you.
This visa offers an additional path to temporary residency and is valid for up to three years. It is granted to foreigners who intend to make an investment in Argentina amounting to at least one-and-a-half million Argentine Pesos, roughly $37,000 in a legal and productive business, commercial, or service activity. The money must be held in financial institutions authorized by the BCRA (Central bank of the Argentine Republic).
To apply, you must submit financial records, your business experience CV and an investment and business plan to the Ministry of Industry and Tourism in Argentina, who then analyzes your submission to determine if it meets the necessary financial sustainability requirements for issuing the visa.
Residency in Argentina
Paths to temporary residency are numerous in Argentina. Once you achieve that status, don’t waste any time in getting your National ID card. It makes simple, everyday activities (like signing up for a mobile phone, opening a bank account, organizing cable for your apartment, etc.) much easier.
Becoming a permanent resident in Argentina is largely a matter of lawfully meeting the requirements of temporary residence for at least two years and then filling out the necessary paperwork. Once you’re a permanent resident, you can work and live in the country indefinitely.
Be prepared for a high level of bureaucracy when dealing with visa or residency-related officialdom—Argentina is very document-focused. You may find it useful to enlist the help of a Spanish-speaking friend or a professional immigration lawyer or facilitator to assist in navigating through the paperwork.
There are three main gateways to citizenship in Argentina: (a) being born there, (b) becoming naturalised, or (c) if one or both of your parents are Argentinian citizens.
You can apply for naturalised Argentinian citizenship if you’ve been living in the country for at least two years. You’ll need to prove employment and uninterrupted residence as well as provide other essential documentation, including your passport and DNI (residency card).
Dual citizenship is permitted in Argentina. You don’t have to renounce your previous citizenship to become an Argentinian citizen. However, while you’re within Argentinian borders, you’re recognised only as an Argentinian citizen, even if you are a dual national.
Note: While every effort has been made to ensure the information provided here is accurate at the time of writing, prices, processes, income thresholds and regulations can change quickly in Argentina. You should always contact Argentina Immigration or Consular authorities for up-to-the-minute visa and residency information.