If you browse different forums about foreigners living in Argentina (BA Expats, for example), you will notice a frequently repeated topic that goes something like “How can I get a job in Argentina?” or “Is getting a work visa hard in Argentina?”. As Buenos Aires is a great international city to live in, it is quite attractive for foreigners looking for a new experience, so this topic understandable. Many of our Expanish students take a course with us with the intention of eventually finding a job in the city and stay to live, so we think this entry will be a great resource.
When applying for a work visa you are, in turn, applying for temporary residency. This is usually the easiest way to get residency in Argentina, but keep in mind that you have to already have a job lined up before you can start the whole process. It is a total Catch-22 where you have to have a visa to get a job but you have to have a job to get a visa. Cue brain explosion.
I wanted to put together a step by step process for how to go about obtaining a work visa for those interested in embarking on the journey of living and working in Argentina. Each step is a slightly abreviated description as I could write a whole novel about this topic, but all the important information is included. And without further ado, here are the steps:
Step Zero – Get a Job
Easier said than done. For help, check out advice from Expanish’s finding a job in Buenos Aires article.
Step One – Gathering Necessary Paperwork
The portion of the whole work visa process that takes the most time is this first step of gathering all the necessary documents. You need some from your home country while others are obtained in Argentina, so it can sometimes be a headache. Here is a list with a brief description of each:
Valid Passport (with valid tourist visa stamp)
This one is easy. You have to be currently in Argentina under a valid tourist visa (they usually last 90 days).
Argentina Criminal Background Check
This is not too hard to get. The easiest way to do this is to get an appointment online here – you can pretty much choose when you want to go. You need to show up with your passport and a photocopy of the page with the photo. After paying 30, 55 or 80 pesos (depending on how many days you want them to finish the paperwork) you can then go back later pick up your background check. Unless you have been getting involved in some sketchy stuff in Argentina, I do not think they will find any criminal record.
Home Country Criminal Background Check
This is for your home country and any place you have lived 1 year or more in the last 3 years. As each country is differnet, the whole process for this varies, but it does need to be from the police at the federal or national level. In general, it is a pain in the you-know-what because it usually take a lot of time and the document has to get an apostille stamp in your home country and then translated into Spanish by an official public translator here in Buenos Aires. I recommend contacting the embassy of your home country in Buenos Aires, as they should be able to explain this process.
Sidebar – What is an apostille stamp you ask? It is a form of international notary that legalizes documents for international use. If you are still confused Wikipedia can help with their article here.
Verification of Residence
You have to go to your local police station and ask for a Certificado de domicilio. They will make you fill out a form, pay 10 pesos and then a police officer will come to your house within 72 hours to confirm that you actually live there. Simple enough.
Steep fee, but doable.
Two Color Passport Photos
This can easily be done at any photography shop in the city if you do not already have a pair.
Pre-Contract with Employer
This is a signed letter where your future employer says that they have the intention of hiring you for one year. It has to be signed and notarized.
Step Two – First Immigration Visit
This is probably the worst part of this whole process – going to the immigration office. Try to imagine the most bureaucratic situation possible and multiply by 1000. You can make a turno (or appointment) online here, but be sure to do it ahead of time as you never know when they will have availability. Although you have a turno with a specific schedule to arrive, make sure to get there early as there is always a line.
Once you are able to speak to someone you will have to present all of your paperwork (listed above) and once it is approved, you need to pay the fee. After signing of documents and stamping galore, you will then be given a residencia precaria, which is a document that acts as a temporary work visa that lasts for 30 days. You will use this to get officially hired by your company before you receive the actual work visa.
Congratulations! The hard part if over.
Step Three – Officially Get Hired
Now that you have all the necessary paperwork, your company needs to officially hire you. This means registering you in AFIP (Administración Federal de Ingresos Públicos) so that you get a CUIL (an official work number similiar to a social security number in the US or a national insurance number in the UK).
Step Four – Second Immigration Visit
This step is VERY important. When I first received my work visa I did not do this step and had to do the process all over again from the beginning, which was the worst news possible.
After you have been officially hired by your company, you need to return to the immigration office and present your official documents from AFIP. They will then give you your official work visa!
Contrary to popular belief, this is not actually a stamp in your passport, but rather several pieces of paper that are stapled together. Unfortunately, this means you have to lug them around with your passport whenever you enter or exit the country. This means you need to keep them safe!
Step Five – Work!
As Ru Paul would say – You better work!
You have finally reached the end of the most tedious and drawn out process of your life. This visa lasts one full year, so sit back and count the days before you have to renew it, which is an entirely different blog entry (to be continued?).
***Keep in mind that these requirements and steps could quickly become outdated, so it is always good to have a thorough reading of the website of Dirección Nacional de Migraciones.
Benefits of a Work Visa
What benefits come with a visa? Besides the obvious one of legally working in Argentina, you also get two important things: health insurance and bragging rights. Another unexpected benefit is that when you are at the airport, you get to go in the line with all the Argentines and residents and skip the tourist line, which always makes me happy. With this visa you can then also apply for a DNI (check out my other blog about this here).
Some things to keep in mind BEFORE thinking about getting a work visa:
Get ready to work for at least one year. A company will ask you to make a comittment of minimum of one year to receive a work visa, and most ask for even longer.
The process can take many months and a lot of buracracy, so be patient!
Just because you do not have a work visa does not mean you cannot work. Many foreigners do have “informal” jobs where they do not need work visas like English tutors and working in hostels, restaurants or bars.