The facilitation of the mobility and residence in the Mercosur region
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the South American region has advanced towards free mobility through diverse measures that we will review in this document.
In 2002, the region reaches significant advances in terms of protection of fundamental rights of migrants through the Agreement on Residence for Nationals of the States Parties of MERCOSUR, Bolivia and Chile (then extended to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru). The Agreement constitutes a fundamental step towards the achievement of free mobility of people in the region.
The Agreement proclaims a series of benefits for citizens of the signatory countries regarding migratory policies at the regional level. It attempted to constitute an improved proposal in comparison to the alternatives that have been used before with respect to migratory issues, such as amnesties or migrant’s regularizations without entering the territory.
Regarding its objectives, it aims to establish common rules for residency procedures of citizens from the signatory countries, simplifying and harmonizing the demanded requisites. A key aspect is the creation of a migratory criteria based in the accreditation of nationality of the solicitant of one of the States Parts of MERCOSUR and Associates, the so called “MERCOSUR nationality” criteria that, jointly with the lack of criminal records and the presentation of certain personal papers, would constitute the basic requisites for getting the residency.
Besides, with the objective of facilitating the procedures, the Agreement tended to exempt from paying penalties or monetary sanctions to those that were already in an irregular situation at a destination country. Apart from access to residency, another crucial objective of the Agreement is establishing a series of rights for who obtained it, such as entry, exit, circulation and free permanence in the territory of the reception country, having the right to health, education, family reunification and free transfer of remittances, as well as the right to work.
The Agreement is a fundamental tool to promote the equalization between migrants and natives in terms of access to rights.
Facilitation of regional transit:
Within the MERCOSUR, other measures were taken to facilitate regional transit:
- Integrated Border Controls: tending to generate conditions for a better use of the available resources, an improvement in interconnections and a better border control, using similar and compatible administrative and operative procedures sequentially and simultaneously whenever it is possible by officers of the different bodies that intervene in this area.
- Neighbour Border Transit Regime: it aims to regulate and register the neighbor intersections between places separated by an international border. It is a limited entry and permanence permit: a) it is only issued for certain border control stations (and not in all as it usually is with other permits); b) it limits the movement in the country for the non-nationals to a maximum radius of 50 km from the control station that authorized the entry; and c) limits the permanence to 72 hours.
Border Committees: formalized between different countries of the region. They promote the bilateral integration among neighbour places. They solve or facilitate different matters regarding border relationships, such as: people’s, goods and vehicles movement, communications, service cooperation, project management and issues related to cultural and social manifestations in borders.
GFMD 2018 - Background Paper RT Session 2.2 "Regional mobility and policy coherence to support development"