Obtaining residency has taken a lot longer than I had hoped (that is somewhat of a theme on the mission field), but we have finally received it. What does this mean? I have been asked about this several times. I can remember reading mission prayer letters from missionaries that from time to time were riddled with words like “residency”, “border run”, and “paperwork”. I didn’t quite understand the meaning of any of it, neither did I understand the importance. Here is a very quick explanation…
- Residency is not citizenship. I am an American citizen, but I now have residency in Argentina. Residency is the allowance from the government for you to live in their country. Up until this point, we have actually been tourists, so we have had to “renew our visas” by leaving the country every 90 days (for us it was a 4 1/2 hour drive each way to the border). You may have heard missionaries use the term “border run”. That is what they are referring to.
- Residency involves a lot of paperwork and “hoops to jump through”. Background checks, applications, translated (and certified) birth certificates, marriage certificates, and much, much more all go into to receiving residency. Each country is different, some are easier, some are harder.
- Residency is a process. When I arrived in March 2016, I went to the immigrations office and asked for residency for our family. I was naive (dumb would be a better description). The immigrations officers were in unbelief that I thought I could just “waltz” in there and receive residency. They laughed at me. They told me, “You can’t just receive residency because you like it here or you are doing something here. There is a process”. That was a painful and embarrassing but helpful experience.
- Residency can be obtained through different channels. This depends on the country. In Argentina, you can receive residency through owning land, marrying an Argentine, having children, being a student in an approved university, a religious visa, and many other options. We had a baby in Argentina, and through that baby, we are receiving our residency.
There is much more that can be said, and probably should be said. But this is just supposed to be a quick update (I will make sure that the upcoming quick updates are actually “quick”). The take away from all this is that we finally have residency and are free to live in Argentina without ever having to leave.