The new Government of Uruguay to attract more Foreigners for Residency
Currently, Uruguay requires foreigners who wish to obtain a residence permit to, among other things, invest approximately US$1.8 million in a Uruguayan property or business and reside in the country for at least six to nine consecutive months.
According to a German article in Latina Press, one of the first plans of the new President-elect Luis Lacalle Pou, who will take office on March 1st of this year, is to try to increase the population. His plan is to facilitate the entry/naturalization of foreigners. The center-right politician announced a few days ago that he would launch a package of measures to relax current residence regulations – both bureaucratic and fiscal – in order for Uruguay to attract more foreigners into the country.
In an interview with “BBC Brazil”, Germán Cardoso, future tourism minister, said that Uruguay is inspired by the countries of the European Union (EU), particularly Portugal, to increase its population and “activate” its economy without “damaging” the country’s fiscal integrity. Uruguay is half the size of Germany but only has 3.5M residents.
For Cardoso, the requirements of today make it “difficult” to recruit residents from other countries. “In the future, a foreigner will still have to prove that he wants to invest and settle in the country, but without the obligation to spend six months in the country without traveling abroad. We also want a lower level of investment and believe that we can bring this level down to the level of Portugal, to around 500,000 US Dollars,” Cardoso said. Other conditions are also being considered for granting residence permits. These include whether a family must register their children in Uruguayan schools or universities.
“The current rules make it difficult for us to attract more residents. What we want is more flexibility without compromising international principles and with clear rules. Here in Uruguay, we have the room and capacity, to respect the rules, even if the government’s ideological line changes. We want to facilitate the arrival of more foreigners”, the minister continued. According to the package, the new government will try to attract between 50,000 and 100,000 foreigners during the next few years.
Lacalle Pou’s statements provoked criticism from the “Frente Amplio”, the party that was voted out of office after fifteen years and is leaving the government. According to current Economy Minister Danilo Astori, the planned initiatives will “take the country back in time” and ensure that Uruguay could once again become a “tax haven”. Other critics claim that Lacalle Pou is trying to attract “mainly the rich” in order to improve economic performance.
In Cardoso’s opinion, Uruguay can be defined as “an island of prosperity and tranquillity” because it offers “high-quality schools and universities”, as well as “a higher standard of public safety than the countries of the region” and good quality of life. According to a recent study by multinational consultancy Mercer, Montevideo has become the most liveable city in Latin America.