I received my temporary resident visa three years ago, renewed it twice, and recently had it changed to permanent without any delay whatsoever. I never had a single document challenged, offered anyone at migraciones any type of gift, or used the services of an immigration lawyer.
As a matter of fact, the ladies at the prorrogas de permanencia went out of their way to be helpful (telling me to return without a numero de atencion and actually accompanying me to other sectors to translate for me when necessary).
My ego tells me it must be due to my extensive charm and incredibly good looks.
What other possible explanation is there?
As the processing times for the DNI have exceeded a year recently
Well, my original desire to reply was based off of the last comment quoted. As stated in my response, one doesn't have to wait more than a year to have their DNI processed if one plays the game.
As to why you had no problems at migraciones three years ago? I don't know. Perhaps because you were not a Mercosur resident. I have always suspected that Migraciones gives other Mercosur residents (particularly those from Paraguay) a seriously hard time. I've seen Argentine officals AND citizens give Paraguayans a hard time when it wasn't called for.
I know a couple of guys who went through a visa process two years ago, through an "Asian Visa Program," who did it themselves very easily. But the funny thing is, before they could go permanent (just short of two years) the government cancelled this program. It was originally (from what I've been told) to encourage all the illegal Asians who were here to get legal and start paying taxes. There was some loophole that allowed anyone to get in the program, and it was only open to entrance for a short time. When the government realized that many of the asians in the program were still not paying taxes, they cancelled the program.
When the government recently cancelled the program, all people who had not completed the program had to move into another visa program and if they were not eligible they were shit out of luck. A good friend of mine tried to get moved over to another visa category and had all sorts of problems and finally hired a lawyer to help him. Once he had the lawyer, everything slid through without a problem.
This is all second-hand from my friends, told to them by their lawyer (who is not my lawyer), so there may be something different that happened than what they recounted to me. What I do know is that they did indeed have to change their visa status because the visa program they were going through was indeed cancelled, that they had problems that were resolved quickly by their lawyers.
It's possible that you were lucky, Steve. It's possible that because you were a foreigner from a country ouside the Mercosur that you have been treated differently than those who I have seen treated who are mostly from Mercosur countries (but not all).
But for the relatively small price that my lawyer charges, and having seen the crap that SOME people seem to have to go through, I think anyone who is trying to go through that process alone is going to have more problems, and the times required to get things done take longer, IN GENERAL than those who don't.
BTW - I am NOT suggesting that ANYONE go to migraciones and offer ANYONE there a "gift." The lawyers who know people and know who to do so to are the ones who should do that.
My lawyer, for example, buys some key people at migraciones and other offices Christmas gifts at the end of the year, offers gift cards (small value) here and there during the year, takes them out to lunch, so on and so forth, so that they have access to people in the know (daily basis type things).
This level of "greasing" is only meant to have access to people to set up quick appointments (I got an appointment three days from the date the appointment was requested and when I ended up not being able to make that, yesterday it was changed to Monday with no problem, which I have never seen with my wife and her family acting on their own, nor with my other two friends mentioned - those were usually a month or two from the data requested everytime they had to make an appointment with migraciones. Her sister, who obviously is also Mercosur, got an appointment in two days a couple of months ago using our lawyer) and to be able to push them to find out statuses and move their clients on ahead in the pile, and have documents reviewed before the clients themselves have to go down and waste time finding out they have an issue, etc.
Only very occasionally do they present gifts of value to make sure that certain things are passed through.
A prime example of where specific grease is required in order to save a LOT of time:
I know a woman who recently applied for residency (she's from the US). 30 years ago she committed a very small indescretion that showed up on her FBI criminal record. Here in Argentina, by law they cannot even show on the criminal records anything that happened more than ten years ago, and normally don't look at things that happened more than 5 years ago.
However, according to my friend, since the FBI sent this issue in her antecedentes, they can indeed look at that. However, it should not be a problem because it was a very small thing and happened 30 years ago. But her visa application has to go to a second level of processing (the extra 40 days I mentioned in my first post) after the first level (the normal 40 days) to be reviewed by immigration lawyers.
The immigration lawyers have the ability to make whatever recommendation they want (based on law), and the overseer who approves these applications who may have some complications (and not all are because of criminal antecedentes) almost always accepts the recommendations of the immigration lawyers.
The immigration lawyers can (and usually do) hold up these applications unless they have some incentive to do otherwise. They can ask for records from the court from the original jurisdiction. They can require that the case be expunged from the person's record before they are allowed to continue in the visa process. There are many things that they can do, and usually do, to hold up visa applications with problems.
It is not illegal for the lawyers to look at something that is 30 years old and pass it on with approval to the head guy. What the specific "grease" does is soften up the lawyer who has been assigned the case to accept the argument that the person's lawyer is making on her behalf and use that argument to the overseer. It is always something they are going to do that cannot be linked to any actual criminal action related to short-cutting the actual system.
Anyone who thinks getting through migraciones bureaucracy is easy, all the time, for everyone, I think is being a bit naive. Just because you had a good time doing it certainly doesn't mean everyone will. Particularly those who are going through on things that require a bit of work to prove the reasons for going through it or have some other small issues that may crop up.
However, to those looking for lawyers beware - there are a lot of lawyers who don't know migraciones and you get nothing from them better than if you were doing it yourself. You should ask to see their Migraciones-specific card that proves they have the certification.
In addition, many charge outrageous sums of money. If you've been quoted more than $1000 USD to go from application to permanent DNI it's probably way too much. Mine was $300 USD for permanent residency and then $300 to go for the DNI. I have a friend from Holland who is spending $500 for residency and $500 for DNI, but this is because he doesn't have a good reason for residency and is going to set up a business here (a real business that will operate within the law and actually make money - hopefully) and use that as his reason for residency, which is a all a bit more complicated than mine which is straightforward.
To those who don't want to use a lawyer, I understand, and you may well have every bit of good luck that Steve had.