Monday, February 1, 2010

Marriage and the Road to Permanent Residency in Argentina

I had coffee with a group of expats recently, all married to Argentines, and I realized that there are a bunch of us...and perhaps there will be more. So I thought that I'd go ahead and post my Argentine marriage experience for anyone who's interested.

To get married in Rosario, I (as a foreigner) had to provide the following to the Registro Civil:
  • Neighborhood police certificate (Certificado de Vecindario) - This is basically to prove that you live in Rosario (you must have an address - I showed my 'certificate of cohabitation' which I got from Tribunales a while back in order to be on Guille's insurance. The certificate is easy to get - you need 2 witnesses with DNIs and have to pay a fee).
  • Copy of passport - If you find that you've stayed beyond the legal 3 months and didn't renew your entry into Argentina, then you'll need permission from immigration (expensive - I think the price just went up but it was 100 dollars) issued before the wedding (and it only lasts for 10 days so you have to hurry up and get hitched!) This basically provides permission to marry, but the form is for permission to leave 'Habilitacion de Salida.' You have to request this from immigration, take their form to the bank and pay the fee there, then return to immigration on the same day and finish the process.
  • Copy of spouse's DNI
  • Fees
  • Blood test results
You can only be married by a judge in Argentina. You either have to go to the courthouse (bring your whole family!) or pay the judge 500 pesos to go to your wedding site, if her schedule allows. Of course, you have to make an appointment for this civil wedding - but not more than 30 days out (this is for the reg. civil on Wheelwright). Some provincias require more information, like medical history and such. Of course, if this isn't your first marriage then you have to provide additional documentation.

Here's the list of information that I had to provide to immigration in order to apply for permanent residency:
  • Valid passport (and a photocopy of the entire passport)
  • Birth Certificate (not a copy) with Apostille
  • Good Conduct Certificate from country of citizenship (issued by the FBI)
  • Good Conduct Certificate from Rosario
  • 4 passport photos
  • DNI of spouse (and a photocopy of the entire DNI)
  • Marriage certificate AND a copy of the signed page in the marriage book from Registro Civil - another fee that you'll have to stand in line at the bank to pay
  • Fee - AR$600 at the time
Seems like a simple enough list, right? HA! Well, the Argentine Consulate that I consulted before leaving the US didn't mention the apostille and they also said that the good conduct certificate needed to be issued by your city of residence in the US - so I schlepped to the downtown NYC precinct for no reason. Fun times.

The US does not issue apostilles outside of the country so I had to request it from my state of birth. The requirements and fees are different for each state but you need to send at least the birth certificate and a letter of request, and probably a self-addressed stamped envelope (which may prove tricky if you need to buy US stamps outside of the US!). This US Embassy link provides the links for each state's apostille office.

The FBI wouldn't accept the digital printout of my fingerprints taken in NYC so I had to be fingerprinted (with sticky ink) at a police station here using the FBI's fingerprint card and then I sent that to the FBI with additional info. It's a good idea to send two or more sets of fingerprints to ensure that they're all readable. Another small fee - $18. This FBI link shows how to request it.

To get a good conduct certificate in Rosario, you need to go to the police station at Catamarca and Entre Rios to be fingerprinted, then wait 15 days to pick them up. And then you take these to the Tribunales to the department of Registros Universales. They give you a form to take to the bank to pay a fee, then you go back and give it to them. Then you wait a week or 2 to pick it up.

All English documents have to be translated and stamped by the Translators' College.

Once the immigration office had everything they needed, they issued me temporary permanent residence (a paper with my picture stapled to it). That was 2 months ago. Now I have to keep checking with the office to see if they've received something (not sure exactly what) that will allow me to proceed with permanent permanent residence and my DNI (which is another enduring process, I'm told).

Really, I can't complain though. It's nothing compared to the US immigration process. The annoying part is having to wait in line after line in order to answer a question or pay a 2 peso fee. The running around is also exhausting and confusing. Though, in the end, it seems that I'll never be more than a permanent resident. I'm not sure if this is officially true, but the immigration office told me that I can't become a citizen without giving up my US citizenship. So...yeah. Resident alien sounds nice.


Katie said...

Thank you so much for this post. Talk about helpful! :) Daniel and I are planning to get married this year, so this information will definitely come in handy. I can't bear too many more visits to Immigration as a tourist - it will be the end of me!

meag said...

KATIE!!! That's wonderful...congrats! And since you're legal, you don't have to worry about getting permission to that's one step less!

Wendy A. Walker said...

Meag, congratulations on getting married! Thanks so much for this post. After much preparation and visiting, I am moving to Cordoba, AR next week (!!!) to be with my boyfriend. Getting things figured out has been confusing at times. I love your blog, keep it up. Wendy

meag said...

Wendy, I can't wait to hear more about your move! Good luck (and don't forget the peanut butter)! Ok, I would probably add tylenol PM, nyquil, dayquil, brown sugar and make-up to the list of things to bring, but...that's just me. jeje

Katie said...

Thank you! It's been in the works for some time now - it's just a matter of setting a date. Right now the main priority is planning a trip to the U.S. to visit the family (it will be Daniel's first time in the States!).

Also, hello to Wendy! Good luck with your move. :) It's crazy but worth it.

Katie said...

Ha! And we should do a post with a list of packing essentials for Americans moving to Argentina...

Wendy A. Walker said...

Hola ladies! Katie, I read and adore your blog as well. A little about me - I am from Knoxville, TN, where I met Fer the very first night he was in the US for his year long geology post-doc. We fell madly in love, he went home, I visited for a month in Dec/Jan, and am moving down on Monday! Eeee!!! I'm so excited!!!

I am unbelievably happy to know ladies like you who are having similar experiences. And missing the peanut butter, of course.

meag said...

OMG Katie, I totally planned to write that post but my list just kept growing and growing, and I felt like a spoiled American. Seriously though, I'm missing gel caps!

Anquises said...

La elección de nacionalidad es un tema juridica y emocionalmente complejo. En este lugar hay interesante información al respecto:

Que la felicidad acompañe su nueva vida, Meag.

Katie said...

Aw, come on. If I can do a whole post about tampons, then you're entitled to do a post about the things you miss too. lol Yeah, and what is up with the lack of effective cold medicine here?

I love your story, Wendy. Here's wishing you and Fer lots of luck. Will you be in Córdoba capital or somewhere in the province? My boyfriend has family in Río Cuarto.

Meag said...

Aw Katie, that famous makes snicker just thinking about it. Ok, i'll dig out my post some time.

Wendy, what is it about the dudes here that makes us give up our stable lives and move down to the end of the world?!? Cordoba is so lovely...wherever you move you can't be too far from that beautiful green countryside.

Radek said...

Dear Meag and friends falling in love with Argentinian,

My name is Radek.

I am from Czech Republic and I am in present in Argentina now – legally and second time in a row (with 10 days break/ holidays in Brazil) as a tourist (without visa duty – up to 90 days of stay.

I should leave country - Argentina – 23 of April = 2 months later from now – if I don’t want to ‘’extend’’ my stay again)

I felt in love with an Argentinean woman – citizen, and that is the reason, why I decided to stay and I would like to live here with her.

I am looking for way to legalize myself in Argentina and to be able to start a regular (Argentinean/ partner and family) life.

For that reason, I am turning to you.

Me and my girlfriend, we can (and we wish to) get married. We also think - to do it - could help to obtain permanent residence and assure that I can stay without any restrictions and difficulties and to be able to start my regular life with her – together – in this country.

My main questions are:

- what is the most possible, the fastest and the securest way to do it - legalize myself here/ get permanent residency = to be able to stay and live in Argentina?

- do/ will I have to leave country - is any possible way, that I won’t have to leave = I can stay, without leaving country?

- what is the estimated / average time for this immigration process (in my case)?

- what documents and certification will I need/ to present at Immigration office and where I can obtain them/ it?

I am contacting you – to ask you for advice, and information what I will need, what I can and I will have to do to be able to start work on it by myself and manage all situation successfully, fast and to happy end or what possible help, I could get from your side - how you could help, lead me or how I can manage my case, or what advice you are able to offer me, to help me solve this situation/ case.

My cell phone number is: 00 - 54 - 9 - 11 - 38 83 83 68

and my email address is:

Thank you very much and I am looking forward to hear from you.



House Hunters International said...


I was doing some research online and came across your blog. I hope you don't mind me reaching out to you. I'm a casting assistant in New York for a popular show about people relocating outside North America. It's called House Hunters International and airs on the Home & Garden cable network (HGTV). We are casting people for this show right now in Argentina and I was wondering if you or anyone you know would be interested in participating.

Our show consists of a family or couple who has relocated in the past few years and the property they have purchased. The purpose of the show is to demystify the process of moving and living abroad. You can learn more about our show and watch episodes here:

Putting together an episode with you would be a real treat for our audience and it's a lot of fun for you too. Contributors to the show get a nice keepsake shot in HD video and also receive compensation for your time and efforts.

If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more, please contact me directly at Have a wonderful day!

meag said...

I'm not an expert and I'd hate to give bad advise so if I were you, I would just go to the immigration office in your city and ask them about the permanent residency process. I didn't have to leave the country to get married, but as I had overstayed my tourist visa, I did have to pay a fee. It's the same fee that you would pay to have your visa extended for another 3 months.

The total time of the process depends on how much time you need to assemble all of your paperwork. And, as I mentioned, I was given a temporary version of permanent residency in December and they still haven't processed my information in order to grant me full permanent residency, which you need in order to get a DNI. Good luck!

meag said...

House Hunters International, How very cool!! I love the show but probably won't be buying property here. I'll let you know if I hear of anyone who does!

Mystical Lizard said...

Thanks for the info Meag, it was extremely helpful to me. I sent my fingerprints to the FBI in January, but I have not heard much from them. They told me they have a 13 week processing time and won't even confirm if they received the fingerprints. Did you have that much trouble getting your criminal records?


meag said...

Hi Ross - I don't think that it took 13 weeks to get my FBI documents but I had a little trouble. Someone from the FBI had told me that I could submit a print out of my fingerprints from the NYC police but I tried to submit ones that had been processed so they emailed me and said that I'd have to send in new fingerprints. Maybe my place in 'line' had been held from the first time that they received my info but it took only 3 weeks from the day I mailed my prints (from Argentina) to the day they mailed the response back (date of postmark). They were really helpful and responded quickly to my emails. I didn't ask for confirmation of receipt but I assume they gave you their standard answer. Best of luck!

Mystical Lizard said...

Thanks for your response meag. I recently recieved my papers from the FBI and looks like I need to get my marriage documents and police records from Gualeguay now.

Hope all is going well for you in argentina.

Bertie said...

Can one simply marry a friend and get residency that way?? It seems that this would be the best way of getting residency quickly?

meag said...

Hi Bertie,
I think that the only difference between getting residency through work or marriage is that you don't have to have an employment sponsor through marriage. The rest of the requirements remain. And don't forget that you need an established Argentine domicile (and be able to prove it) in order to be married in Argentina. I can't really say if it's faster either - I still don't have my permanent residency and we're approaching our 6 month anniversary!

Carol said...
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Marraco said...

"... but the immigration office told me that I can't become a citizen without giving up my US citizenship..."

Who said that?? An USA authority?

It's completely false. You don't need to give up any non argentine citizenship. I don’t know if USA forces you to resign your US citizenship, but is not an argentine requirement. Lots of argentines have dual nationality; even triple nationality.
If you want to have argentine nationality, just after living 2 years on Argentina, you earn right to it.
The Argentine constitutions says clearly, that is “for anybody willing to live in Argentina”, so you may even sue the state to enforce your citizenship.

meag said...

Hi Marraco,
Actually, the Argentine immigration officials told me this. Yes, its true that if you are Argentine, you can obtain multiple citizenships (depending on the laws governing the country to which you apply) but as a non-Argentine, this is not the case, sadly. As you probably know, many Americans hold dual nationalities as well so this is not the result of US law.

Honestly, I don't know how one would go about giving up their American citizenship and if it would even be recognized as a revocation by the US for the purposes of obtaining Argentine citizenship. If anyone knows, please speak up.

Of course, it could be that Argentine immigration is lying to me just to torture me and make life more difficult.

Elizabeth said...

Hi! Congratulations! Thank you so much for the information! In your wedding planning, did you find anything about marrying an Argentine in the US? At some point we plan to live in Argentina but probably not for a few years. When we do I would like for our marriage to be valid.

Chris said...

Hey, Meg! Great post, love the comments here, too.

Hacer la residencia sounds like a lot of work to me! US immigration wasn't bad. We did my argentinian husband's all ourselves, took a while, but was doable even without a lawyer. He now has dual US/Arg citizenship. He was required to renounce his Arg citizenship in word only. I'm interested to see how well it goes for me and the kids down there...

Wendy, nice to meet you! I was a geology major myself - LOVE them rocks!

We're moving back to Arg (Neuquen) in a few months. Definately cramming the suitcases with peanut butter, brown sugar, maybe molasses, cold meds, make-up, and tampon multi-paks!!! :)

Chris said...

I mean Meag! Sorry! :)

Also, FYI, US citizenship was about $450, now it's almost $1000! said...
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Nadine Laplante said...

Hello meag, I have many questions for you, I would really like to be able to contact you by email to ask more questions about this. I am Canadian and would like to get married in Argentina and be able to live there the 2 years to get the Argentinian citizenship. Could you please help me to know if this is possible; to get the permanent residence from Argentina, and for me to be a house wife?

thank you.

Lisa said...

This was INCREDIBLY helpful. You're awesome, thanks so much!!

Lisa said...

This was INCREDIBLY helpful, thank you so much! You're awesome

fida bhayo said...

hello to everyone my name is Fida i am pakistan born living in cyprus,nicosia. me and alicia she is from argentina had the relationship one and half year and want to get my question is can i get married alicia in argentina while i will be on tourist visa.And what after marriage. can i apply for the permanent residency visa.?

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