Recommendations for expatriates
Hiring expatriates in Argentina is not a simple procedure, as any employer that wishes to hire foreign employees must meet stringent immigration requirements before it can do so. This update offers a brief and practical overview of the key issues that must be taken into account before employing expatriates in Argentina.
Before hiring a foreign employee, companies that conduct operations in Argentina must be registered with the National Registry of Sponsoring Entities. A division of the Department of Immigration, the registry requires companies that intend to hire foreigners to submit a wide scope of documentation before such registration will be granted. Once the registration certificate has been obtained, companies must update their corporate information annually; it will not be possible to hire foreigners or renew working visas until that year's update has been completed.
Each prospective employee will require a work visa, and therefore a sponsoring company. However, Mercosur nationals (ie, those from Brazil, Uruguay or Paraguay) and prospective employees from the Mercosur associate countries (ie, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru) can apply for a temporary residence visa that entitles the individual to work in Argentina, without the need for sponsorship.
There are two ways for Argentine companies to acquire authorisation to hire foreigners - through the consulate in the employee's home country or (if the employee has already entered Argentina) directly with the Immigration Department.
In the employee's home country
The future Argentine employer must request the issuance of an entry permit.(1) The estimated processing time for this step is approximately six weeks from the submission of the application. Once the approval has been issued, it will be sent directly to the Argentine consulate in the prospective employee's home country. The prospective employee must then attend a previously scheduled appointment with the consulate, where a work visa will be stamped on his or her passport. The consulate should return two sealed envelopes to the individual along with the visa. These envelopes must not be opened by the employee. Instead, one of the envelopes must be given to the immigration officer on the employee's first entry to Argentina. The other envelope will be used for the Argentine ID card process.
If the prospective employee has entered Argentina as a tourist, the company may request the conversion of his or her immigration category, replacing the tourist visa with a work visa. The prospective employee should schedule an appointment with the Immigration Department in order to submit all the necessary documents. The entry permit will not be required at this time; however, any document submission must be done with the assistance of an immigration consultant. Provided that all the documents submitted are correct, the Immigration Department will issue a preliminary residence visa.
After the conclusion of either of the procedures mentioned above, the foreigner will be admitted for one year (this period can be renewed)(2) and must request a labour identity code with the local Social Security Authority in order to be registered for payroll purposes.
Working without a work visa is illegal in Argentina. Even if all the employee's salary is paid in his or her home country and he or she is still considered an employee of the home company, an employee cannot work in Argentina without the government's approval. The government has ruled that companies have an obligation to hire a local resident in place of a foreign national where a qualified local resident is available, thus protecting Argentine citizens from losing employment opportunities to foreign nationals.
Penalties and enforcement vary widely. Common personal ramifications are deportation, personal fines and, if deported, difficulty in securing future visas in Argentina. In addition to the personal consequences, the Argentine company that employed an illegal worker could be fined, have difficulty sponsoring future work applications or lose the right to hire foreign nationals in future.
Recommendations for expatriates
Employees who choose to spend time in Argentina as tourists before securing a work visa should be aware that Argentine law prevents them from offloading shipped belongings, opening a bank account, buying a car, renting accommodation or enrolling children in schools, among other things. Therefore, after securing a work visa, employees must apply for an Argentine ID card in order to avoid any inconvenience while performing such actions. The estimated processing time for this step is approximately two months. If the employee was hired from his or her home country, the procedure must be done separately on arrival in Buenos Aires at the National Registry of Persons. If the employee was hired in Argentina, the procedure will be carried out at the Immigration Department in concurrence with the work visa application.
For further information on this topic please contact Javier E Patrón or Enrique M Stile at Marval O'Farrell & Mairal by telephone (+54 11 4310 0100), fax (+54 11 4310 0200) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Marval O'Farrell & Mairal website can be accessed at www.marval.com.ar.
(1) Mercosur nationals will not be required to obtain an entry permit before the appointment with the Argentine consulate.
(2) Mercosur nationals will be admitted for two years; this period can be renewed.