A little over a month has lapsed since I began the process of obtaining Argentine residency through marriage. On Monday, I received a phone call from one of the immigration officers, and I perked up immediately. He asked me to come in the following day to pick up my residencia precaria [link in Spanish], a document granting temporary residency while my permanent residency request is in process. During my previous visit to the immigration office, the officer had held out the possibility that my residency paperwork would be fully completed within one month, but in my heart of hearts, I knew that was wishful thinking. Obtaining the precaria represented a small victory, but as is usually the case with paperwork in Argentina, there was also a problem.
The immigration officer stated that I now needed a criminal background check from Interpol to complete my file. Mind you, I'd already submitted the FBI background check and the criminal background check from Argentine authorities. Not to mention that I've done a lot of reading about the process to obtain Argentine residency, and I don't once ever recall stumbling upon anything listing an Interpol background check as one of the requirements. However, with Expect the unexpected being the unofficial motto of the residency process in Argentina, I dutifully headed to the office of the Policía Federal here in Necochea to request the report.
The police officer who initially greeted me politely tried to brush me off onto the folks at the Prefectura Naval. When I explained that I'd just come from the immigration office at the Prefectura and that they'd specifically sent me to the Federal Police, much confusion ensued. After consulting with three different people, the officer finally decided that, yes, he could take my fingerprints and request the Interpol report on my behalf.
Should you require a criminal background check from Interpol as part of the process for Argentine residency, here are the documents you'll need to present:
- Passport [photocopy of the entire document, including blank pages]
- Original birth certificate with an apostille prepared by the state issuing the certificate plus a translation by an official Argentine translator [photocopy]
- Certificado de matrimonio (marriage certificate) [photocopy]
- Two special forms that you obtain from Migraciones
You will be fingerprinted at the Policía Federal, free of charge.
Once you've been fingerprinted and you've presented all the necessary documents, an officer will sign and stamp one of the special forms, which must be returned immediately to Migraciones. The report from Interpol will later be automatically forwarded to Migraciones (the officer did not know the timeframe involved).
Honestly, I don't know if the Interpol criminal background check constitutes a brand new requirement that was introduced just within the last month, or if it's all part of the elaborate wild goose chase they like to send people on just for kicks. After some digging, I did find this thread on a TripAdvisor forum mentioning an Interpol background check as a requirement for the pensioner visa, but otherwise I came up empty-handed. I'd be interested to hear about others' experiences.
I also received the disappointing news that the small immigration outpost at the Prefectura Naval – conveniently located just across the river in Quequén – will no longer process paperwork of this type, so I'm now back to traveling an hour and a half to Mar del Plata, with its dismal immigration office, to take care of any future issues.
[Photo credit: kozumel]