Recent information made available from the Uruguayan Immigration Office shows that 2012 was a record year for the number of applications filed: 5347.
At the same time only 2426 applications were granted, so the backlog is still growing and applicants can now expect to be waiting 2 years for their application to be granted.
An analysis of available statistics show that the number of applications filed in Uruguay has increased by almost 400% over the last 10 years. For example, in 2002 1479 applications were filed.
For most of the last decade the Uruguay Immigration Office has kept pace with the increase in applications. However over the last 2 -3 years this has become impossible, as no new immigration office employees have been added.
At the same time, the lawyers of the Immigration Office, and those of the Ministry of the Interior (who review the work of the lawyers of the Immigration Office and apply different criteria!), have started examining applications a lot more rigorously.
As a result many objections are now being raised, most regarding minimal formalistic requirements. One substantial change is a requirement to show “intent to permanently reside”. As a result it is no longer possible to come to Uruguay, file an application, leave and just wait for residence to be granted.
Applicants can still come and go as they please, but must live in Uruguay during the application period or have a good reason to justify absences.
The 2012 figures indicate the great majority of applicants are from South America – principally Argentina and Brazil. There are more than 700 applicants from Europe and over 250 from the USA and Canada.
In conclusion: despite the cost of living increases seen in Uruguay during the last few years, it remains an increasingly popular destination for immigrants.
Whilst applicants can expect a longer residency process in Uruguay, if they have the basic documentation and the intent to reside there is no reason to suppose that they will not eventually get permanent resident status.
The underlying legislation has not changed and the requirements are still relatively straightforward in comparison to many other countries.
In recent months, the President of the Republic has publicly expressed his desire that immigrants be accepted with more flexibility and less delay. This message has obviously not yet got through to immigration officials, but it is hoped that at some time (soon?) some changes will be made to speed up the process.
Mark Teuten, Teuten Abogados
Montevideo - Uruguay
Tel: + (598) 2908-8638
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