Take That, Bureaucracy! How I Finally Got My Argentine Citizenship

16 Jun

Today, June 16th, 2010, I can finally say that I am an official Argentine citizen. It only took over a year and a half, 12 visits to the Registro Civil in Buenos Aires, countless dollars and pesos, and untold amounts of stress and accrued patience. It almost feels unreal to finally be sort of over with it. Today I went back to the Registro Civil at 1 pm, accompanied by my friend Pablo for back up support. We had to sit there for a while even though the building wasn’t too busy, and before we even got called I went past my hour lunch break. As we waited I pointed out to Pablo which of the employees were terrible and mean and a woman in front of us chimed in in agreement.

When called up I presented my documents proudly one by one, and for once the employees actually got the process started. They reached back for a few papers, scanned through my translated birth certificate, and starting typing things into a computer. I double checked to make sure everything was typed out correctly, though at first they spelled my name Janathan. As they filled things out they asked where I was from and I said New York. They called me a Yanqui, and even though I had that word and find it offensive, I just smiled to avoid complicating things. One woman said I better root for Argentina in the World Cup or she wouldn’t put through my papers (jokingly) so I showed her my blue and white scarf and she laughed. At least they were friendlier this time. Next came a few signatures here and a few there. I had my two photos ready but suddenly they said the size wasn’t right, so I had to run next door and dish out $16 pesos for six new ones. When I compared the new with the old, which were taken when I got here in August, I could see how much paler I am and how I’ve lost more weight. Stress of the process, perhaps?

For what Pablo explained was to keep my fingerprints on file, my tips were covered in ink and I placed them like snowflakes on the paper. Most importantly, they got their $35 for the fee, and I was given a little slip saying my DNI was in the process of being issued, essentially vouching for my citizenship. They told me it would be delivered to my apartment in six months to a year. I laughed and asked if they were serious. The little paper doesn’t even allow me to leave the country, though I assume if I had to I could use my American passport and show the paper to avoid a fine. Goodbye illegal alien status, hello dual citizen.

The biggest joke comes in the fact that I’m supposed to wait that long for it to show up, and the fact that it will be delivered to the wrong address by the time it gets there. Since I’m moving soon I told the doorman and he said he would hang on to it for me and call me when it arrives. It’s almost a let down that I have to wait so long for the actual DNI to arrive, but it’s over for now. This awful experience has nearly ended. And once I get the DNI months from now I can start in again with a passport.

So to review, how I got this citizenship, in a quick and to the point manner. My mom was born here, giving me birthright to citizenship. I realized this while living in Ecuador and on my behalf, my parents started the process with the Argentine Consulate in New York. They had my birth certificate translated, got a Hague Apostille (a form validating international paperwork), and made an amendment on my birth certificate when it was realized that my mom’s maiden name was changed upon moving to the U.S. Otherwise it would have prevented confirmation of her being my mom.

With my inscription papers from the New York consular office I went to Buenos Aires in August. The first two times I went to the Registro Civil, I went to the wrong place and no one bothered to tell me otherwise until I explained that I already had citizenship. Then I was told I was in the line for foreigners trying to get it in the first place. Suddenly they were very nice. Next I had to get a copy of my mom’s birth certificate, but her copy was old and hard to read, delaying the process. Twice more I went to get a new copy which only stays valid for six months. Each time I went a new piece of information was given, but never all of it.

A few times I had some help and other times I went alone until finally one of my bosses came with me and yelled at the staff when they wouldn’t help. Finally the boss explained exactly what I needed clearly. I had to get a new copy of my birth certificate with official seal and Apostille translated into Spanish here in Buenos Aires. (It didn’t matter that it was already done in the U.S.) I needed a new copy of my mom’s birth certificate because by this point six months had passed. I got a new version of my inscription from the consulate to be safe, as well as a certificate of housing from the police department. And today I needed to get last minute new photos.

I can’t forget all of the money put into this and the many people who helped, mainly my parents, a helpful and caring Consul General in New York, and my coworkers who showed care and support through the whole process. And now, finally, I am an Argentinian. So tomorrow I’m going to wake up early to go with my coworkers to watch the Argentina vs. South Korea soccer game at the Four Seasons, where we were invited. I’ll have my blue and white scarf for support. Afterward, I imagine we’ll slowly amble to the office, maybe get a coffee, watch a protest, complain about things, you know typical Argentinian stuff.

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