Archive | July, 2010

Argentina Increases Rentista Visa Income Requirements

Once again, Argentina has made a major change to their policies with little advance notice. The rentista visa, which is a popular option for expats wishing to live legally in Argentina, now has an income requirement of AR $8000/month per person. This represents a 333% increase from the previous amount of AR $2400/month.  This law became effective on July 29, 2010, by Disposition Nbr. 1534/2010 of the DNM (Spanish).

Most expats who live in Argentina are on tourist visas, which are only valid for 90 days.  The tourist visa may be renewed at Migraciones for an additional 90 days, after which time you must leave the country.  This has lead many to do the “expat shuffle” – taking the morning Buquebus ferry ride to Colonia, Uruguay and returning to Buenos Aires that evening. This technically fulfills the requirement of leaving the country and gets you another  90 day visa stamp. This practice has been “tolerated” by Argentine immigration, even though several people reported being questioned about the number of tourist stamps in their passport. Once again, one never knows when they might change their policies and disallow this.

Other expats simply overstay their tourist visa and pay the relatively small AR $300 penalty when leaving the country. There have never been any problems with doing this and re-entering the country at a later point. I personally know several people who were here for many years on an expired tourist visa.

For those who are looking to be here on a more permanent basis and would like to have a long-term legal visa and DNI (the Argentine equivalent of a social security and national ID card), there are few options: marry an Argentine, have a baby here, or get a visa.  Unfortunately, the visa options are limited – you cannot simply get one because you “want to live in Argentina.” The main types of visas are student visas, work visas, rentista visas, and investment visas. (Other types also exist, but these are the most common. Consult an Argentina immigration attorney for other options.)

Student visas only apply to students, work visas require your company to provide one for you, and investment visas require a minimum investment of AR $1,500,000 plus approval of the Argentine Ministerio de Industria for your project. That pretty much left the rentista visa as one of the few viable alternatives and now it has become more limited.  The new requirement to prove and bring AR $8000 per month in passive income into the country will leave many people scrambling for alternatives as it applies to both new and renewal visa applications. (Rentista visas are granted for 1 year at a time and must be renewed for 3 years before one can apply for permanent residency.)

So, does this affect you?  Let us know in the comments.


Buenos Aires News: Edition 13

Gay marriage is now legal in Buenos Aires after President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed the bill into law last week.  Perhaps the best headline I saw about this was, “Argentina approves gay divorce.” 🙂 Here’s what else is making news over the past week:

Argentine Peso Gets Lift From Record Soy Harvest as Volatility Gauge Sinks [Bloomberg]
Argentine currency traders are reducing expectations for peso fluctuations to the lowest since March as a record soybean harvest swells export revenue in South America’s second-biggest economy. Economists predict it will weaken to 4.2 per dollar by year-end, according to the median of 13 estimates in a Bloomberg survey. The consensus forecast was 4.5 per dollar a year ago.

Buenos Aires on a leash [The Christian Science Monitor]
Argentine dogs live a life of pampered sophistication in this elegant city as dog walkers can earn more than teachers here.

Debate over legalising abortion intensifies in Argentina [BBC]
After the recent vote by the Argentine Congress to legalize same-sex marriage, the legalization of abortion seems set to be the next big debate in the country.

American, JetBlue partner on select flights at JFK [Crains]
JetBlue, light on overseas options, links passengers to Europe, South America and Japan via American flights, while American sends domestic passengers to 18 new cities via JetBlue.

BA Construction Activity Rises 10% [InvestBA]
Recent headlines regarding Buenos Aires real estate sales activity have been improving steadily this year, and La Nación says builders are starting to feel equally optimistic. During the first five months of 2010, the construction industry posted a 10% increase in new projects under development, while the sale of condominiums and single-family homes advanced 7.1%, according to the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE).

Lower Congress Approves Glacier Protection Law [The Argentina Independent]
After 12 hours of debate, Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies approved a law that would limit mining and oil drilling activity in the country’s Andean ice fields on Thursday morning. The legislation’s provisions are similar to a glacier protection law that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner controversially vetoed in 2008.

Maradona to continue as Argentina coach [AP]
Diego Maradona will reportedly remain as coach of Argentina’s national team, a decision he is expected to announce next week after meeting with Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona.

What’s the deal with Buenos Aires? [NY Post]
Argentina’s capital is overhyped, overcrowded and terrifically annoying. It also might be one of the best places you’ll ever visit.

Private Parking Lots Forced To Offer Space For Bikes In Buenos Aires [TreeHugger]
In a city where bike theft is a very good reason to make you doubt about riding somewhere, providing parking facilities is almost as important as creating new bike paths. This is the case in Buenos Aires (and many cities around the world), and the reason why it’s so good to hear that the government has pushed a new law to provide several bike-parking facilities, including spaces inside private parking lots at lower rates. If you ride in Buenos Aires or are thinking about doing it, you need to read this.


Expat Tech: Skype Now Supports Multi-Tasking

We previously reported at the end of May on Skype adding support for 3G calling to their iPhone app and are now happy to report that as of yesterday, Skype now also supports multi-tasking on Apple’s new iOS 4 for the iPhone 4 and 3GS.

What this means is that you can now run Skype in the background on your iPhone, and receive calls as well as place them.  Before iOS 4, the only way to receive calls would have been to have the Skype application running in the foreground which was not very practical.  Now, just run Skype in the background and people in the States can ring your Argentine cell phone just by placing a local call. And all you need is a cheap 3G connection (Movistar charges $9 pesos for 2GB to use over 2 days).

You’ll still need to pay for a SkypeIn number if you want people on non-Skype phone lines to reach you, but luckily this service is only $18 for three months or $60 for a year. Plus, they have local numbers available in 25 different countries.

In other good news, Skype also dropped plans to charge extra for 3G calling.  Both Wifi and 3G calls are free to Skype numbers, though you’ll need Skype credit to make outbound calls to non-Skype numbers, but that is relatively inexpensive as well.

Now all we need is the jailbreak for iOS 4 on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, which is supposed to be coming in the next few days! (I installed iOS 4.0 on my iPhone 3G and it slowed to a crawl.  I had to downgrade to 3.1.3 to make my phone usable again, so I’d advise against doing that.)

So, with a jailbroken and unlocked iPhone 3GS, iOS 4.0.1, Movistar 3G service and Skype, I should have a cheap calling solution anywhere in Buenos Aires.


Vonage Reduces Cost to Call Argentine Cell Phones by 65%

I’ve long been a customer and fan of Vonage, so it was especially nice to get an email from them today announcing a number of rate decreases.  While Vonage offers free calls to most foreign landline phones, they often charge for calling mobile numbers.

With today’s announcement, they have reduced the per-minute rate from U$S 0.17 to U$S 0.06 for calls to Argentine cell phones. (They have also reduced the rate for mobile calls to Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.)   This now means that calls to Argentine mobile phones from my Vonage line are significantly cheaper than calling with my local Movistar pre-paid cell phone. And yes, that is a bit crazy.

What makes this especially attractive is that you can now call forward your US Vonage number to your Argentine cell phone and receive calls from the States when you are not at home for only $0.06 per minute. This is great for people who conduct business with the States and need to be available when they are out.

Vonage also offers a mobile app for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry that could prove to be the cheapest way to make calls while overseas. For $24.99/month you get unlimited calling plus the new low rates. Skype currently charges $0.021/minute for landlines and $0.204/minute for mobile phones.

Way to go Vonage! It’s always nice to see prices actually decrease every once in awhile.