February 17, 2022

Update to New Immigration Law Introduced in Chile

Following the introduction of a new immigration law approved by the Ministry of Interior in Chile in 2020 the first implementing regulation has now been published. Several regulations will be effective immediately including restrictions on in-country change of status for most foreign nationals, the consular tourist visa will be replaced with a consular short-term authorization valid for multiple entries and for a 10-year period for those entering for tourism and business purposes, stricter eligibility rules will apply for permanent residence permits limiting the absence from Chile and relaxation of travel restrictions for permanent residents.

The new immigration law was approved in 2020 and published in April 2021, however we are only now seeing the publication of the first implementing regulations. These changes to the law are to modernize the current immigration system and are to be effective immediately.

Some of the key changes published include:

    • Centralization of the immigration adjudication: The National Immigration Service will be the central government department adjudicating visa and residence permit applications in Chile thus streamlining the process. Decisions were previously taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and / or the Ministry of Interior. Short-term authorizations will continue to be processed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
    • Restriction of In-Country change of Status: Foreign nationals entering as tourists can no longer change to residence status in country. Those seeking to work and reside in Chile must now remain outside Chile until their work and residence process is complete. Exceptions will apply for foreign nationals with family ties in Chile.
    • The online system has expanded: Those foreign nationals permitted to apply for a visa or residency in country can now do so via the National Immigration Service’s online portal. Foreign nationals will receive a visa or residence in process receipt immediately instead of waiting the 120 -150 days for the receipt to arrive when applying via mail.
    • New visa for tourist and business applicants: Replacing the consular tourist visa which was typically issued for single entry. The new visa for foreign nationals entering for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days will be valid for multiple entries and for up to 10 years.
    • Stricter eligibility criteria for permanent residence holder: Those intending to apply for permanent residency will be restricted to a maximum 60 days outside Chile in the year prior to application (down from previous 180 days). This therefore increases the temporary residence period required before an applicant can apply for permanent residence
    • Permanent Residence status rules relaxed: Once this status is obtained, permanent residents can remain outside Chile for up to two years without losing in their status.

At present the work and residence permit categories remain unchanged.

For further information on immigration in the Chile, please contact the Sterling Lexicon immigration team.

Leanne Cottrell

Leanne Cottrell

As Head of Immigration with Sterling Lexicon, Leanne leads a team of specialists who are responsible for ensuring the entire immigration process is smooth and stress-free for clients, assignees and their accompanying family members. She brings over ten years of experience in strategic immigration management, planning and consultation to her role, and has cultivated invaluable knowledge and experience in processing countless global migration applications. As a trusted partner, she consults with clients on everything from policy considerations and cost or efficiency improvements, to the impact of opening offices in new locations. Leanne is a frequent presenter and author on global immigration topics and trends.

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