Over the last few months it has become apparent that the Immigration Office is reviewing residence applications with a fine-tooth comb, instead of the broad brush approach taken before. The purpose of this article is to inform you of the changes in immigration procedures, and help you determine if residence in Uruguay is still a viable option for your situation.
- Changes that affect everyone seeking residence in Uruguay
More paperwork and documentation required to open a bank account
Applicants for residence need to have a bank account in Uruguay to show that the income they declare is being duly received in Uruguay. Non-residents can open a bank account in Uruguay and do not need to get a tax identification number to do so. However, the trend is for banks to require more and more documentation. At this time some Uruguayan banks require an official identification, a bill confirming your name and address, a letter of reference from your bank abroad, and evidence of the origin of funds to be deposited.
Additional requirements added to the process
Filing all the officially listed application documents no longer represents all that is required in order to be granted residence. There may be other requirements such as being called in for a personal interview.
The process takes longer
In the past, residence applications took about six months to be reviewed and granted. At the current time they are taking about 18 months.
People who may be effectively prohibited from getting residence
People who are not ready to reside in Uruguay
The Immigration Office now requires that applicants have intent to reside permanently in the country. This requirement seems to have arisen as a result of the Immigration Office now having new software which means that they have everybody’s Uruguayan entry/exit details available.
They have noticed that a number of applicants were filing for residence and then leaving and not coming back. Applicants in this situation will not be granted residence as the Immigration Office understands that it is implicit within the request for permanent resident status that a person really intends to live in the country.
What is not clear yet is exactly what period of time it is necessary for somebody to be in the country to satisfy the Immigration Office. We understand that over half of each year should be sufficient without doubt and that others who come and go on a frequent basis but for a lesser total of days should also be ok, provided they can give a reasonable explanation for their being out of the country e.g. somebody who wants to retire in Uruguay, but is winding down their activities in another country first.
People who cannot demonstrate the income source that supports their lifestyle
The income requirement has to date been around U$S600 per person. It is clear that this is no longer going to be sufficient and the Immigration Office is looking at applicants and their lifestyle and wants to know where the income to support the lifestyle comes from.
People who have lived in multiple places in the last five years
The requirement is to have a clean police report from the country of birth and any other country in which the applicant has been a resident in the previous five years.
This requirement is being applied very strictly and causing enormous problems for people who may have visited a country for a few months but not lived there and for whom it is very difficult to get a police record, either because they do not know anybody in that country who can go about getting the form for them or simply because the other country will not issue them with a report because they were not resident there.
People who live in a country that requires a tourist visa
For nationals of countries which require a visa to enter Uruguay even as a tourist, it is no longer possible to get a professional to act as guarantor/sponsor for the visa.
The Immigration Office wants any application to be supported by somebody who actually knows the applicant. This creates a problem for a lot of people who want to just visit Uruguay, with a view to possibly seeking residence at a later date. People with passports from China, India, and Russia are included in the countries that need a visa to enter Uruguay.
It seems strange that the authorities want to make it harder for people to get into the country, particularly when these are almost all people who are well-off (by Uruguayan standards) and will not represent any sort of burden on the state. In fact exactly the opposite, they will be consumers of Uruguayan products and services.
Some suggest that the changes are due to the influences of outside pressures. Uruguay needs to stay in the good graces of international organizations like the IMF and the OECD (who Uruguay has struggled with to get off the short list of tax havens) and are taking great care to know each person who is immigrating into their country, and not to have immigration policies that are considered lax in the eyes of the international community.
Whatever the reason, the trend is for the process to require more effort than it has in the past, and for some people who have been looking at Uruguay as an option, it may no longer be available.
Juncal 1408, Oficina 702
CP 11000 Montevideo - Uruguay
Tel: + (598 2) 9088638
Fax: + (598 2) 9088640