Uruguay processed a total of 7,209 resident visas for Argentine nationals in 2022, a drop of nearly 42% from the previous year, it was reported in Montevideo on Monday.
According to data from the Uruguayan Foreign Ministry, most Argentines seeking to move across the pond choose the country's capital as their main destination, although their presence is much more noticeable in the department (province) of Maldonado.
The 7,209 residency applications were a significant fall from 2021's 12,489. In 2016 there had been 3,063; in 2017, 2,147; in 2018, 1,482; in 2019, 2,042; and in 2020, 6,816.
With a total of 17,399 foreign nationals seeking to settle in Uruguay in 2022, Argentines accounted for 41% of the country's immigrants.
The increase in residency applications in recent years is also linked to the coronavirus pandemic, as only residents were allowed into the country during the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns combined with border closures, the National Direction of Migration explained.
Argentine citizens applying for residency does not mean they necessarily live in Uruguay all year round. Most Argentines apply for permanent residency, which is done at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but some also choose to apply for temporary residency, which is granted by the National Directorate of Migration of the Ministry of the Interior through a faster procedure. This last option allows foreigners to reside for two years with an extension to four years. Usually, when the four-year term is up, Argentines switch to permanent residency.
Behind Argentines, Venezuelans (2,613) and Cubans (2,026) made up the largest group of immigrants. In 2022, some 17,400 people started the procedure to reside in Uruguay, of whom 13,850 were from Mercosur members or associate countries.
According to the Municipality of Maldonado, of the 220,000 inhabitants in this department, 25,000 are Argentines, which resulted in an increase in health insurance purchases over the last three years, in addition to their children attending private schools.
The Argentine exodus was noticeable the day Argentina won the World Cup and the streets of Gorlero Avenue in Punta del Este exploded with flags, drums, and people singing.
Punta del Este businesses which usually close during the winter remained open in 2021 and 2022 due to the increase in the number of residents, most of them Argentine nationals.