South America: What is the Mercosur Residence Agreement?

May 3, 2022 Jessie Butchley

The Mercosur Residence Agreement   

The Mercosur Agreement was implemented in 2009 with the intention of managing intra-regional migration throughout South America. Under the Residence agreement, citizens of participating Mercosur sovereign member states and associated member states are granted the right to reside and work in another member state for a maximum period of two years. Some member states also have established simplified work and residence permit processing times.  

Mercosur member states include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Venezuela’s membership was suspended in 2016 due to trade and human rights concerns. The associated member states include Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname. Bolivia is in the process of accession to the Agreement.  

Despite being members of the Mercosur Agreement, not all member states and associated members are signatures of the Mercosur Residence Agreement. The signatory countries of the agreement currently include Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.  

Conditions for Citizens of Participating Mercosur Member States

Generally, citizens of a Mercosur member state do not require a visa for entry into another member state and are only required to provide proof of citizenship in a member state. In some cases, they must provide proof of holding no criminal record to remain in the host member state. In many countries, eligible citizens do not need to demonstrate proof of employment or employer sponsorship prior to traveling to a Mercosur member state. 

Citizens of member states are granted equal rights as the citizens of the Mercosur state they’re employed in, and they can work under the same labor laws and practices of said state. However, each member state maintains sovereignty over the ways in which the rules of the agreement apply.   

Some member states, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay, allow Mercosur citizens to benefit from reduced application wait-times and do not require the individual to obtain sponsorship from a company for work authorization. 

After two consecutive years of residence in a member state, Mercosur citizens are eligible to apply for permanent residence.  

Future of the Mercosur Residence Agreement  

Since the founding of the agreement, attempts have been made to expand the application of the agreement to include arrangements with other South American countries and regional groups, the United States and the European Union (EU). In 2019, an agreement was reached between the member states of the EU and the member states of the Mercosur Agreement that will allow EU citizens to participate in the conditions of the agreement. However, the agreement has yet to be ratified and has not officially entered into force. The COVID-19 pandemic has also slowed the advancement of the agreement and created economic issues for many of the Mercosur member states.   


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Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an attorney at one of the two U.S. Law Firms working with the Envoy Platform or another qualified professional. On non-U.S. immigration issues, consult an Envoy global immigration service provider or another qualified representative.

About the Author

Jessie is Envoy's Global Immigration Writer.

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