Quoting "steveinbsas": ". . . . If you don't speak Castellano, you may indeed get with the feeling that the folks at migraciones don't care about your needs. It isn't their job to speak or understand anything we say in English. . . ."
I totally disagree. We all know that English is the most widely-spoken language in the world. So, I think the guys at migraciones should be required to speak it. This is NOT some local shop we're talking about. It is MIGRACIONES, which is a public office specifically aimed at helping foreigners. I'm sure their employees are intelligent enough to realize this... They know their job is about dealing with foreigners, so why not show a little more tolerance?
Markus, are you serious? Yes, people throughout the world speak English, but look at the table and map on the following web page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_where_English_is_an_official_languageThe only two Latin American countries where English is the official
language are Belize and Guyana. Otherwise, the official language in all sovereign nations south of the
Rio Grand (the "new" southern border of the US after the war with
Mexico) is Spanish.
Spanish is the official language of Argentina, but Argentine law does not require those seeking residency (or renewing a tourist visa) to speak the "official" language, and the employees at migraciones are indeed very tolerant of foreigners who do not speak Spanish! I've never heard of anyone being denied a visa or an extension because they don't speak the national language. Not speaking it well may make things a bit more difficult, but anyone who has that problem can go to migraciones with an interpreter. I did.
Yes, Argentine migrciones is a "public office" but it's primary purpose is not "helping" foreigners. It's purpose is to enforce the laws and keep undesirable (insolvent or criminal) foreigners from entering the country as well as monitor the ingress and egress of foreigners who are legally here. That's all. The vast majority of foreigners trying to emigrate to Argentina already speak Spanish and are from other Mercosur nations. The increase in the number of English speaking immigrants to Argentina is relatively recent and very small by comparison. Those who only speak English usually don't stay very long anyway. They find the Porteno men rude and arrogant and the women very cold...and then they complain about it here on this forum. Too bad. The more I learn to speak castellano, the better the quality and greater the number of my Argentine friends.
PS: Many of the Argentines in the local shops AND at migraciones DO speak English. As RWS (correctly) posted: "Even a badly accented, ungrammatical stab at Spanish will elicit both
patience and co-operation from civil servant and shopkeeper alike."
On most occasions, I have started a conversation in a BA shop by stating, "No hablo mucho castellno, todavia." (They love the "todavia" as it shows you are trying to learn.) I continue in the idomia nacional as best I can, and quite often the person I am talking with will start speaking in English when I reach a block and ask, "Como se dice esta en castellano?" Try it. Hopefully, it will work for you. It has for me, many times, including my most recent visit to migraciones, when I finally went on my own.It would be interesting to see what reaction an employee at migraciones might have to your post. Como se dice "who and where do you think you are, sir" en castellano?