Changes in Uruguayan Immigration Office Residence Criteria

Mark Teuten
March 2012: Update on Uruguayan residency process, by Montevideo Attorney, Mark Teuten.

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    Filing all the officially listed application documents no longer represents all that is required in order to be granted residence.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.

Mark Teuten
Teuten Abogados
Juncal 1408, Oficina 702
CP 11000 Montevideo - Uruguay
Tel: + (598 2) 9088638
Fax: + (598 2) 9088640


Anonymous said...

It all makes sense. People who have a legitimate reason to request legal residence should not worry at all. It seems obvious that external pressure is taking place to avoid likely 'scammers' thus actual evidence about where the income comes from and police records are essential. I disagree there should be a class A and class B of foreign nationals as to visas and paperwork.

Llewellyn Lee said...

I will be moving from Sputh Africa to live in Uruguay.
South Africa has this idea that anyone wo wants to come is welcome.
End result of that is a huge amount of ORGANIZED CRIME.
Nigerians specialise in scams
East europeans set up protection rackets and dealing in stolen goods, and have corupted our police force.
Chinese are involved in the process of killing Rhino in our national parks in order to cut of the horns.
Other chinese gangs smuggle what is called Perlemoen which is a type of shellfish, and a huge gang was recently discovered who send boats of the beaches at night to lay bait for sharks. The slash of the sharks fin and leave the shark to bleed to death

Rich A said...

Looks like a while to approve, 18 months. Sounds like a catch 22 you can only stay 90 days on a tourist visa, but if you leave they won't approve your application if they don't think you will be permanent. What is the best way to get approved for permanent residency? Who is the best contact there to hire to help with the footwork?


David Hammond said...

Hi Rich, When you submit your paperwork for residency you get a temporary residency card to use while you wait for your permanent residency status. These days can take longer than 18 months.

Many people use Mark Teuten, who wrote this article:
Mark Teuten, attorney

Others include:
Ana Inés Pérez Bianchi
Expat Uruguay

Magela Palleiro

Carla Piaggio
Fischer & Schickendantz

Casey King said...

A clean police record does that mean anything including two misdermenors disqualify for citizenship?

Pal444 said...

Thanks very much for the updated information. Unfortunately, I [USA resident] can see lots of hurdles for me. I am interested in starting a small business in Uruguay but it's a hard pill to swallow thinking that I would have to sit around waiting for 18 months before I knew to be legal as I could not start working and spending on my business idea until legal status was resolved. I have been living 1/2 each year in Colombia using a tourist visa, a country where I have made legal investments in business and real estate but I don't have legal residencia. Colombia officials would stare in disbelief and think me a fool if I visited a government office to ask for a police report/history on myself as they would not be able to provide such a document, me not being a legal resident...Catch 22 in a way. The other 1/2 a year I travel and spend time in the USA, Panama, Costa Rica sometimes for months so there is no way they are going swallow stamps in my passport for the last few years. I am glad I found your information as I am [was] looking to spend 5 months of this year in Uruguay to spend boots on the ground time and start looking for a leasehold/pueblo to start. I would think I need to reevaluate that idea now. Well things are just what they are. I would not claim to be an expert but there seems to be trend in just the last few years in many of the countries I have had on my radar for investment. That trend is 'more scrutiny of foreigners, period' I surely must respect each country's laws but they do seem to be counter-productive in that even a small business owner is going to invest $40K USD in a country just to get started, that $40K USD is 'free money' for the local economy, as money invested from abroad consumed no local resources, no work, and consumed little to no governemtn services to arrive...it just arrives like a holiday gift and invariable is spent with the locals almost as a rule. It's hard to understand why countries who claim they want foreign investment don't seem to understand that 'gift'. But it's their country so they can do as they see fit. thanks again. I will reevaluate now.

Alterwain Andrea said...

You can start your business after filling the information to obtain residency, not AFTER getting the residency. Currently I am helping a couple in this same situation. I am a lawyer – notary with more than 15 years experience. In case you need any help, do not hesitate to contact me: 0059899662030, www.estudioab.com.uy; estudio.juridicoab@yahoo.es