After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Paper Chase Update

For those of you following my saga of trying to get a long-term visa (I've lived in Argentina for 4 1/2 years, but leaving the country every 3 months), here's the latest:

Last Friday I went with my big box of papers to Imigracion, ready to be "OK-ed". and told all was in order, por fin. Bueno. But now for the first time, I was told that I needed a bank account in Argentina. Que? Come again? No one had told me this before. I always needed "one more paper," but in order to get a bank account, I told the baby girl in charge of my destiny, I needed a DNI. She countered with, Not at HSBC.

I was very doubtful, but ok. Ruben and I took a cab to the nearest (well who knew where was the nearest to Imigracion, certainly not the taxista, but we kept driving until we found one) HSBC.

The manager, a young blond, wasn't even polite. No, sin DNI, no! Punto final!
But I can't get a DNI without a bank account, I said pathetically. (Really, I wasn't pathetic, just MAD, but I wanted to maintain a low profile for Ruben's sake.)

I suppressed all of my I told you so's, and Ruben guided me into a bank down the street, Banco Frances. Argentines, I find, have infinite patience.

No problem, the tall handsome young banker said as he helped me fill out the forms.

High from success, we taxied back to Imigracion with papers in hand. Where the snooty baby-clerk said when she glanced at my documents, But this is a savings account! You need a checking account!

At this point, even the unflappable Ruben was frustrated.

Why not tell me this from day one? (I have lists upon lists of papers necessary to get my visa, but each list is longer than the last, and of course, none are legally binding. I remember as an undergrad at UCLA, I was so thrilled to get the final tally of units and classes and a legal contract that I would graduate in June upon completing certain courses with a passing grade.)

It seems that each time I go there the kids in charge of my destiny in Imigracion do whatever they can to avoid starting the tramite of my DNI.

But surrounded as I am there, always by people seeming to breeze through the process, people from Bolivia, Paraguay, el MicroSur, or China, or young beautiful people, I try not to take it personally.


Holly said...

Sounds like they are bulls$&%ing you now. Shouldn´t they have a proper list to give you, of exactly what one needs. How frustrating!

Anquises said...

Estimada Cherie.
Nuestra Constitución recibe con los brazos abiertos a "todos los hombres de buena voluntad que quieran habitar el suelo argentino". Lamentablemente los burócratas de Migraciones suelen olvidar la letra de nuestra Carta Magna. Si le sirve de consuelo, debo decirle que el inaceptable tratamiento que Vd padece no es discrimnatorio: es el mismo que los funcionarios aplican a todos los ciudadanos de este país.
Espero con impaciencia el día en el que Vd nos anuncie el final de la pesadilla.

msHedgehog said...

I just wouldn't be able to bear this. I don't know how you manage to adapt. A friend who goes there often was telling me yesterday just how hard it is to get the simplest trivial thing done. Promises, promises, timewasting, and no action. Whereas in Colombia, where she went for the first time last month, they say "we can't promise, but we'll try this," and then they deliver.

She thinks perhaps people just stopped bothering under the dicatorship. And now there's paralysis and a pervasive cultural incapacity to take responsibility or do business honestly like adults.

It drives you mad because when they get their act together, they're so much fun.

Tina said...

Darling, you need to let me know when you have bureaucracy planned into your day so I can have a mojito or a gancia waiting for you. Gah, I hate paper chases. I went through some similar stuff in Italy. Never any fun!
I hope this all comes together for you. I really do.

Tina said...

@mshedgehog, but no, the reason the bureaucrats are like this in Argentina is because they're half Italian. ;-) Try living in Italy it's just as bad if not worse...

Anonymous said...

Man, Cherie. I'm a mild mannered person, but at this point I'd be tearing my hair out (literally) in the office. I can't imagine what more they'd ask you to do!

Anquises said...

We can add Prague to the list, Tina. Remember Kafka's short story "Before the Law"...

suzy vegas said...

Do you know wht the train de las Nubes is cancelled otra vez??

I went to a lawyer here for residenzia and was told a bunch of stuff that made it seem IMPOSSIBLE.
Cant you go up to LA? I got the visa at the consulate in London with a birth certificate and a letter showing that I had 2500 pesos coming in monthly from outside (get a member of your family to write it) No criminal check required (PHEW (: )

Erika Borbor said...

Hi Cherie,

I just came across your blog:)
I'm sorry to hear that you're having such a difficult time getting your visa. I know how frustrating it can be. I recently tried getting dual citizenship in Peru and came across the same frustrating paperwork issues. I was told I needed this paper, that paper, talk to this person, that person, go to that window, then the next window. I couldn't understand how difficult it was to obtain Peruvian citizenship. I couldn't be more Peruvian than the lady telling me all the things I needed. For now, obtaining my Peruvian citizenship is on hold. I commend you; you definitely kept your cool:) I wish you the best in getting your visa.
By the way, I love your blog

tangocherie said...

Thank you one and all for your comments.

I'm trying to keep it together, but honestly, today I'm not doing so well.

I got an official letter from them yesterday, and tried to call to find out what it was all about, but they couldn't/wouldn't tell me. So Ruben and I beat it down to Retiro, where they had me write out a letter stating stuff. I was so mad I hardly knew what I was writing. They didn't dictate it, just gave me a pen and paper. So I wrote away.
They (the baby girl) could not have been more rude.

No, Suzy, I can't go back to the States to do all this from there as I live here! And anyway I'm now in the computer, for better or for worse.

I'm just terribly depressed. I mean, I'm NOT trying to become a citizen, just stay here for more than 3 months at a time!

Quickroute said...

from what I've heard, doing the paperwork yourself can be a nightmare. It's probably worth getting a recommendation from someone who has been thru it before (BA Newcomers group etc) and using a local contact. As with everything in this wonderful country it's who you know not what you know!