The Argentina Migraciones Matrix
Practical findings about Argentina citizenship & residency options
Welcome Avatar! After a visit to my dear lawyer and local problem solver, he alluded me to 2 potential solutions: one for renouncing of Argentine citizenship, and the other for getting permanent residency without going through either the investment visa or rentista visa. Let’s dig in.
Last week I sent out the following tweet (or a post, still can’t get used to the new brandless lingo on X) after a visit to my lawyer:
In this article we’ll go over both topics, starting with citizenship.
The reason why it took a bit longer to write was because I was still waiting on my lawyer to send me some judicial case samples, which is why the article took a bit longer: Argentina rewards patience, another way of saying that you shouldn’t be in any kind of rush while waiting for answers from third parties.
Renouncing Argentine Citizenship
In Planting Your Flag in Argentina I mentioned the following about the whole renouncing debate around Argentine citizenship:
Some passport bros will remind you that renouncing the Argentine citizenship is not possible, and that this could potentially be an issue in the future if the country ever decides to implement citizenship-based taxation.
This is a total non-issue. For starters, there are only 2 countries in the world with citizenship taxation: the US of A and Eritrea. Guess who is able to collect tax dollars from its citizens? Only the former.
No Eritrean would ever wire money to Eritrea just because their government demands it and came up with it just because it was running out of cash.
As we all know, the Argentine Central Bank tends to run out of cash more often than not, but switching from a residency based taxation to a citizenship based taxation would require a change in the constitution, which would very likely not get passed or even suggested.
Even if it would pass in the hypothetical case of the idea ever coming up, guess what will happen? The same as when the Argentine government tells its residents they cannot buy dollars: everyone starts buying dollars.
In this case, no one would pay a single peso. Just like Eritrea, Argentina has no way of enforcing this, and Argentines have no issues with not paying tax.
Plus, why would you want to renounce a passport that gives you a claim on Antarctica? Wouldn’t be me:
Now that we’ve cleared that up, some people will still feel uncomfortable about the idea of a State having control over one of your citizenships basically forever, and I can understand that too.
Having flexibility is always a good thing, and the freedom to obtain and cancel citizenships should always be an option. Just like not taxing citizens who are not residents should also be the norm (like it is for most countries except for Uncle Sam and the Eritrea bros).
When you try to Google the option to renounce Argentine citizenship, you will only see results saying that this is not possible. Like many subjects that do not have a lot of articles around them (and then even less in other languages than Spanish), it is hard to find further info besides what the standard text in official government sources says:
La nacionalidad argentina no es renunciable. Si los ciudadanos extranjeros tienen otra o muchas otras nacionalidades esto no impide la posibilidad de acceder a la nacionalidad argentina.
Argentine nationality cannot be renounced. If foreign citizens have another or many other nationalities, this does not prevent the possibility of obtaining the Argentine nationality.
Now in practice it does turn out to be possible to renounce Argentine citizenship, through the judicial route.
Here is one example of a court case, and that had a favorable outcome of renouncing citizenship:
Granted that this case is a bit extreme and involves a criminal, but even there, the criminal is asking the court to let him renounce his Argentine citizenship so he can chill in the Dominican Republic once deported.
Fe de erratas: previously my lawyer’s assistant had included another case, however, that was actually a case for not wanting to renounce original citizenship in order to access Argentine citizenship so I have excluded that from this article. Currently we’re looking for more court cases (which are definitely there), and I will include them here.
Autist note: this article is a recommended read to get a better idea of the residency and inhabitant rights in theory and in practice, and why Argentina is still such a welcoming place to foreigners:
Residency Problem Solver
The Wolf: I'm Mr. Wolf. I solve problems.
Jimmie: Good. We've got one.
— Pulp Fiction (1994)
One thing that Argentina does not lack, is problems. But fortunately, problems require solutions and Argentines are some of the best problem solvers you can find. The financial loopholes and arbitrage opportunities literally abound, and this is the case in many segments of society, also with obtaining residency.
It all boils down to: do you know the problem solver, or do you know someone who knows one?
For the sake of anonymity I will refer to my lawyer here as The Wolf. Just like The Wolf in Pulp Fiction, Argentine lawyers are an absolute must if you pretend to set up a business here, want to check a contract, or, in this case: less paperwork.
We won’t discuss the Rentista Visa here, if you want to learn more about the recent changes I suggest to read my article on SovSpot about the Argentina Rentista Visa Changes.
This solution is a bit more under the radar, and you’ll understand why I refer to The Wolf in a second.
Back in the novice days of just starting out in Argentina and having a local company with employees, we hired some foreigners that got their DNI (local ID) and residency through our company.
Any company can hire foreigners, no additional requirements needed. So there’s no need for an H-1B or O-1 visa like you would need in the US, or a process similar to that in Brazil where a company has to prove that this person is more talented than a local hire.
The thing is, Migraciones (the Argentina USCIS equivalent) actually does make surprise visits to the office of said company to see if the foreign employees really work there.
Because as you can imagine, there would be big business in setting up a company just for giving foreigners residency. Lol, more about that later.
Migraciones officers tend to make 1 surprise visit per employee, and during that visit they conduct an interview and ask the employee about the type of work and the role he’s been hired for, etc.
After 3 years of residencia temporaria or 2 years (for Mercosur citizens), the employee gets a residencia permanente, which is independent of being employed by a company.
So until you get the permanent residence, you still need to be employed by a company, doesn’t have to be the same one, and the chain of payment slips should not break MoM. Meaning, your visa status is tied to being an employee, until you reach permanent residency status.
Autist note: Fun story is that for my business partner at that company, we actually set up a fake job as a butler so he could stay in Argentina after quitting his previous job and starting our company (he was still in the 3 year employee window; 1 month without a job an you lose residency) - I guess you can see where this is going.
So in the past I have played around with the idea that there might be a business model to run a company for the sole purpose of providing residency to foreigners.
The problem is always the surprise visits, which meant the people you “hire” would have to be working on site from the same place just in case Migraciones shows up.
Now, in comes The Wolf.
After a back and forth about the renouncing citizenship issue and the interest to get residency in Argentina, I mentioned that most people go for the Rentista Visa.
The Wolf looked at me with a mix of disgust and pity, as if the local tax office had just dropped a fine on his doorstep that he was going to have to ignore.
Then he said that he never heard of that visa or what it entailed. This was news to me, since he has helped multiple Chinese, Russians, Ukrainians, Dutch and even a Palestinian get residency and eventually citizenship.
So how did The Wolf solve those problems?
The Wolf: I hire them in my company.
Mara: Yes, but then you have the Migraciones issue that they do surprise drop-ins to check if people really work here, right?
The Wolf: No. In all these years, Migraciones hasn’t dropped by once.
Mara: For real? How? When we hired this always happened after a few months.
The Wolf: You know why this doesn’t happen here?
The Wolf: Because authorities cannot enter a Law Firm without prior notice or without a warrant. I put these folks on the payroll as part-time interns, so on paper they work IN the law firm until they complete their cycle to permanent residency.
Mara: I can't believe this road to permanent residency.
The Wolf: Well, let's not start sucking each other's mate 🧉 quite yet.
That was the dialogue we had last week, and as you can see, I thought this was a fantastically solved solution for a residency problem.
It would likely not be a super high volume business, since at some point the lights will start to go on at Migraciones if The Wolf & Associates really becomes a gateway for hundreds of passport bros picking up their residency through a fictitious part-time internship at a prestigious law firm.
But then again, he does have a point with regards to the reason as to why they have never checked. This is also why there’s a cueva on the same floor.
In the upcoming weeks Mr Wolf plans to structure this into a product/service, since he has only done about 10 cases so far, which were all separately priced. I told him if he wants to offer this option, it should be packaged like a McDonald’s Happy Meal, so that’s what he’s working on now.
I will make sure to keep everyone in the loop and will announce more details once that is ready.
See you in the Jungle, anon!
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