Everyday Chile

Changes are coming for Visas and Migration laws in Chile

Changes are coming to Chile’s visa situation very soon and a lot of the information can be overwhelming, misleading, or just plain frustrating. Last week, Today in Chile sat with Nury Van de Grift, a lawyer from Santown Legal Services to try and clear up the current situation about everything that’s going on. Before we continue, we at Today in Chile would like to say while we spoke to a lawyer about the current situation in Chile, no one really knows what’s going to happen with the law. The president can come on the news tonight, completely switch up the game, and everything that we are talking about is no longer valid. It’s happened before and it wouldn’t be shocking if it happens again. That’s a fun feeling to have right? We think so too. 

This is current information that we have as of now. Before making any decision on your current visa situation please reach out to Nury for additional assistance about your case and also reach out to the department of migration (Departamento de Extranjeria in Spanish) for additional information and updates.

What’s Going on Today?

Chile’s visa and migration laws have not really changed since 1974. If you know anything about Chilean history, the 1970’s Chile is completely different to 2018’s Chile. Foreigners barely represent 5% of the total population of Chile and yet the current migratory process is currently taking 11 months for visa approval. 

To even get your application in the computer system, there is a 90-day delay right now if you have all your papers in order. Longer delays can be placed if you have just one document missing or your documents are incomplete. Also, you cannot leave the country if you’re not in the computer system yet. So what happens when you’re close to day 90? Do you make a visa run and lose your place of the application process or risk being in an illegal situation and hope the government forgives you. What do you do? This is an issue that so many people are dealing with right now and with the lack of answers, frustration levels are definitely rising and patience is running thin.

Piñera’s administration presented a proposal in March to modernize the immigration process and create new systems. The immigration reform will apply to all new foreigners entering Chile but it makes mention of two nationalities in particular: Haitian and Venezuelan, which have represented the greatest growth in recent years.

Haitians entering Chile will be granted only a 30-day tourist visa, while everyone else still has a 90-day visa upon entering. Haitians wanting to enter Chile after April 16th must apply directly from the Chilean embassy in Haiti. Everyone else who enters Chile with a tourist visa and has intentions of staying, seeking work, and living here will see changes and a new visa application process after July 22nd.

Why is July 22nd important?

For all foreigners who are currently in Chile on a tourist visa and want to stay in Chile to work, July 22nd is a very important date. It’s the deadline to find a job, have a closed contract, so that you can apply for the Visa “sujeto a contrato”, which means that you will be granted a one-year work visa as long as you keep a job.  After July 22nd, you will not be allowed to enter as a tourist, looking for a job, and just stay.  Even if you get a job offer, let’s say in August, and you entered Chile on a tourist visa, you will have to return to your home country to apply to the new types of visas available. 

One of the most common questions that is being asked is, how will this actually work? What happens after July 22nd? No one really knows. The New process of visa application won’t open until August 1st. Our big question is what will happen for those who find work or want to apply between those dates? Most of the people that we asked told us that we will have to wait and see because no one knows. 

Uncertainty of how these new laws are going to be implemented will continue until we see this process actually unfold. As always, stay tuned here for more information and updates about the new migration laws and the process of applying for these new visas in order to live in Chile.


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