My Argentine permanent residency saga has come to an end. Just the other week I went online to the website for Argentina's immigration service, and I found out that my residency paperwork had been ready since June 22! So, at the first opportunity, Daniel and I headed to the immigration office in Mar del Plata to pick up my completed paperwork. Though my previous experiences there featuring a Colombian ex-con and disappearing computer records made for good blog fodder, I was really hoping for smooth sailing this time around.
I did not have to make an appointment to pick up my paperwork; I just took a number when I arrived at Migraciones. Understandably, those with appointments were given priority, even if they arrived after me, but this system lengthened my wait time considerably. Fortunately, by the time the immigration worker got around to calling out numbers, I realized that most of the people ahead of me had long since given up and left.
As she rattled off the numbers at a rate approaching the speed of light, I realized this worker had missed her true calling in life as an auctioneer. She fired off numbers 99 to 07, the latter of which I clutched in my hand. Despite my best efforts to catch her attention while wading through the masses surrounding the front desk, she'd already slipped into the back, no doubt deciding it was the perfect moment for a mate break.
When she finally made it back to the front desk, I pounced. I stated the reason for my visit and held my breath as she searched for my records in the computer. I swear the worker almost sounded surprised when she confirmed, "Yes, your paperwork is ready." She asked me to wait for a few minutes while my file was being retrieved, and I took a seat once more, feeling (prematurely) optimistic.
No more than ten minutes later, my half-inch-thick paper file emerged from the records room. The woman asked me to review my personal data for accuracy, and just as I handed back the paperwork, she announced, "It looks like the computer system's gone down. You know, this happened the other day, too, and we had to clear out the whole office because we couldn't get any work done."
As we waited for a computer technician somewhere to put a couple of 25-centavo coins in the slot to continue gameplay, the immigration worker explained that I could apply for my DNI para Extranjeros (National Identity Document for Foreigners) right there at Migraciones. She added that the document would be mailed to my home within 30 days.
A few minutes after the computer system was up and running once again, I received my official paperwork declaring me a permanent resident of Argentina.
I also completed the simple and quick process to receive my DNI, which I'll explain in detail when it arrives in August.
For all the complaining that Argentines and expats alike do about the bureaucracy here, I have to admit that the residency process turned out to be fairly efficient and painless for me. The total processing time for my permanent residency amounted to three months, and I should have my DNI in a month. I mean look at that – I only got to do one Argentine residency update! I figured I could milk that for at least two or three more blog posts. Could Argentine bureaucracy actually be improving?Argentine Residency: Update #1
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