Today, Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra dashed our hopes of bringing Facu home to meet the parents next Christmas by announcing that “it will be complicated” to lift visa requirements for Argentines entering the United States. Sob.
Speaking to radio station FM Vorterix, Malcorra explained: “We are seeing how the visa process could be facilitated. I would love for it to be eliminated, but for now we are trying to see if the process could be simplified.” At the moment, “it will be complicated to completely eliminate the visa process.”
In January this year, President Mauricio Macri met with US Vice President Joe Biden to discuss Argentina rejoining the United State’s Visa Waiver Program, which would allow Argentines to travel to the US without having to go through the seriously tedious paperwork and pay the US $160 fee needed to access the country. The US Visa Waiver Program currently lets the citizens of 38 countries enter the US without a visa and stay up to 90 days. Currently, Chile is the only South American member to be part of the agreement but, following Macri and Biden’s meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, it was hoped that Argentina would soon be joining the club too.
However today, Malcorra suggested that the process will be more complex given that “the United States at this time is experiencing more and more people entering the country each day due to extreme violence in the rest of the world.”
Previously tense bilateral relations between the US and Argentina have defrosted ever since Macri assumed the presidency. In fact, US President Barack Obama will be visiting Argentina in just under three weeks, in what will constitute the first state visit by a US President in 19 years. (However, the visit is not without controversy, as some object to Obama’s presence on the 24th, the National Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice commemorating those who lost their lives during the last military dictatorship. Today, it was announced that Obama changed his plans and will not be in the City of Buenos Aires on that day but instead in Bariloche in order to avoid potential anti-US protests.)
It is unclear whether the Argentine Foreign Secretary will discuss with Obama plans for simplifying the visa process when he arrives towards the end of the month. “I cannot reveal the detailed program for the President’s visit, because it is always subject to change at the last minute.”
Traveling to the US used to be much simpler for Argentines under former President Carlos Menem (1989-1999), who enjoyed a close relationship with former US President Bill Clinton. During this time, Argentines were free to travel to the US without the hassle of obtaining a visa. However, since the financial crisis in 2001, when many Argentines relocated to the North American country, and following increased security fears after 9/11, strict visa requirements were re-established.
Looking to the future, Malcorra said she hopes that, “the conditions for the interviewing of certain people, especially those relocating” could be eliminated. “We are a large country with a lot to give, therefore we need to sit on a table with all partners, including the United States.”
But for the meantime, forget about that Miami vacation, as it looks like you and Facu are going to be spending winter here.