Why Argentina's New 'Digital Nomad' Visa Isn't All It's Cracked up to Be

Argentina is already a remote worker's paradise—no special visa needed

Argentina

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On May 10, Argentine Minister of the Interior, Wado de Pedro, announced at a press conference in Buenos Aires the launch of Argentina's new digital nomad visa, following suit behind Italy, Costa Rica, Spain, and a whole laundry list of other countries—though it's uncertain if the benefits will be enticing enough for online workers to apply for it.

The new visa, only available to digital nomads who are residents of countries from which Argentina already grants tourist visas on arrival, allows for a stay of up to six months with the possibility to extend it to 360 days.

De Pedro and a team of other government officials, including Florencia Carignano, the national director of migration, outlined the visa benefits, including discounted hotel stays, discounted flights through Aerolíneas Argentina, and discounts on packages at co-working spaces. Carignano stated each province will also have its own individualized perks, though those haven't been released yet.

To those unfamiliar with digital nomadism in Argentina, the program might seem promising—except it's already possible for digital nomads to base themselves in Argentina without having to pay a $200 fee or provide a contract from at least one employer (both requirements of the application for the new visa).

If visitors are eligible for a 90-day tourist visa on arrival in Argentina, they can already extend that visa for another 90 days, according to Expat Arrivals. But alternatively, instead of extending, travelers can exit the country before their 90 days expire, then re-enter to receive another 90-day visa. This process can be done unlimited times, with neighboring countries like Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay serving as popular options for visa runs. Still, others on tourist visas choose to overstay their visa for however long they want to remain in the country, then pay a fine of 12,500 Argentine pesos (converted to $106 at time of writing). The penalty is the same whether you overstay one day or one year, and the overstayer has no legal repercussions beyond needing to pay the fine before leaving the country.

Given the lenient policies around entry and overstay, Argentina has a different profile than other countries that have created digital nomad visas. Countries in Europe, the Middle East, and the Caribbean offer digital nomad visas varying from six months (Iceland) to three years (Germany), and most, like Aruba, offer a stay of up to one year. However, these can have shorter time frames for staying on a tourist visa (30 to 90 days) and far more significant penalties for overstaying, such as deportation, a ban from re-entering the country for a specific period, and compounded fees for each month overstayed, depending on the country.

Speaking from experience, a digital nomad basing themselves in Argentina has none of these issues, plus access to its universal healthcare system. Those based in Buenos Aires, the largest hub for remote workers with an average of 2,384 digital nomads arriving per month, also can budget for a relatively low cost of living ($900 a month) for a large, cosmopolitan city—and all of this is possible without the discounts or benefits afforded by the digital nomad visa.

Not only is the ability to already live in Argentina well and long-term on a tourist visa a sticking point for digital nomads to not apply for the new visa, but another reservation could also be the country's failure to follow through on tourist programs in the past, like the bi-monetary account program launched by the Central Bank of Argentina. The program was meant to encourage tourists to exchange their foreign currencies through official channels for the MEP dollar rate, a rate nearly twice that of the official exchange rate of the Argentine peso. Infobae reported, though, that not a single account of the program was ever opened as of this past February.

Regardless of what visa future digital nomads choose to use, Argentina, and Buenos Aires, in particular, seem poised to receive more remote workers. The country recently dropped all COVID-19 travel restrictions, and Buenos Aires is rated as the fifth-best city for remote working worldwide and is ranked the most livable city in Latin America. However, until more of the promised provisions are released, the question is not whether digital nomads should come to Argentina—it's whether they should apply for this visa or stick with the methods of past remote workers seeking an extended stay in the country.

Article Sources
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  1. ABC News. "Argentina Hoping to Entice Remote Workers with New Visa." May 10, 2022.

  2. Expat Arrival. "Visas for Argentina." Accessed May 23, 2022.

  3. Ministerio del Interior. "Cuadro Tasas Migratorias - Decreto 285/2021." Accessed May 23, 2022.

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