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New Immigration Reform in Chile

In April of this year, President Sebastián Piñera announced a new immigration reform. Piñera asserted that Chile will continue to be a country which welcomes immigrants with open arms. However, Piñera stated that due to a large number of immigrants entering the country recently, Chile needs an immigration reform that addresses the current situation providing adequate mechanisms and procedures which will allow a desirable management of the actual contingency. At the moment Chile counts over 1 million immigrants, of which an estimated 300,000 are illegal. Therefore, it is necessary to establish laws that guarantee an immigration process that is safe, regulated, organised and that assure a transparent, humanitarian and decent treatment for both immigrants and Chilean citizens whose interests shall also be considered.

This article provides an overview of the changes that will occur in immigration law due to the reform in question. Additionally, it clarifies the doubts that are still present in light of this reform.

What Are the Objectives of the New Immigration Reform in Chile?

The government has set the following objectives for the new immigration reform:

  1. To guarantee law binding immigrants a righteous and human treatment.
  2. To prevent the entrance of immigrants with a criminal record into the country and strengthen efforts against human trafficking.
  3. To create a Migration Policy Council in order to create and systematically update, on a regular basis, a migration policy that is clear and transparent. Furthermore, this includes the creation of a National Migration Service, which will be in charge of the executive part of this policy.
  4. To create a flexible system of migration categories. This will eliminate the possibility of changing a tourist visa into a residence permit whilst being in Chile. This has already been done by many immigrants, however, this made it difficult for the government to have a good and clear overview regarding the number and status of immigrants in the country. Therefore, applying for a residence permit from now on has to be done in the country of origin of the applicant.
  5. The right to access healthcare.
  6. The right to access education.
  7. The right to access social security and other fiscal benefits for those that have been residing legally in the country for at least 2 years.
  8. Modernisation of the validation process of foreign academic titles.
  9. National foreigner registration.
  10. Changes in obtaining temporary residence process.
  11. Decriminalisation of illegal stay.
  12. Simplifying the deportation of individuals who have violated the migration law during their stay.
  13. Immediate deportation of individuals who try to enter the country under unlawful conditions.

What Are the Administrative Changes to Chile’s Immigration Laws?

  1. Reformulation of temporary residence visas created by administrative means:

a. Elimination of the possibility to apply for a temporary visa for working purposes starting from on April 23, 2018.

b. Temporary opportunity visa: This visa should be requested outside of Chile. The visa is granted for 12 months and can be extended once. This visa is for all individuals who stay in Chile for working purposes up to 12 months. This visa will come into force on August 1, 2018.

c. Temporary international orientation visa: This visa should be requested outside of Chile. The visa is granted for 12 months and can be extended only once. This visa is for all individuals that come to Chile for working purposes and have a Master’s degree from a world-renowned university. A list of these specific universities will be established in the law. This visa will come into force on August 1, 2018.

d. Temporary national orientation visa: This visa is requested on Chilean soil. The visa is granted for 12 months and can be extended once. The visa is granted to individuals who come to Chile for working purposes and have a Master’s degree from a Chilean university. This visa will come into force on August 1, 2018.

2. Hait citizens:

  1. From April 16, 2018 on, Haitians will need a Visa Consular de Turista Simples that will allow them to stay in Chile for 30 days. This visa does not apply to those who come for working or migration purposes.
  2. Furthermore, there will also be established a Visa Humanitaria de Reunificación Familiar. This visa is intended for the reunification of families. The visa is granted for 12 months and can be extended once. However, a maximum of 10 thousand of these visas can be granted and it should be requested at the Chilean embassy in Haiti.

3. Venezuela:

Due to the current political crisis in Venezuela, the “Visa de Responsabilidad Demócratica” will enable Venezuelan citizens without criminal records to seek refuge in Chile. This visa should be requested at the Chilean embassy in Caracas and allows a temporary residence stay of 1 year, which can be extended only once. This visa will come into force on April 16, 2018.

The Chilean government has enabled Venezuelans to do a part of the application process online in an effort to avoid never-ending queues outside of the Chilean Consulate in Caracas. After filling in all the necessary information and documents online,  an appointment is arranged at the embassy to obtain the pertinent stamps and seals.

4. A plan to improve the Department of Extranjería y Migración operations and procedures in order to accelerate the visa processes.

What Is the New Regularisation Procedure for Immigrants in Chile?

One of the main reasons for this reform is to control the immigration of illegal immigrants into Chile. In order to do this, the government will start a regularisation procedure for those who are in the country under illegal circumstances.

  1. It will permit foreigners who are currently in Chile under illegal conditions, who arrived in Chile before April 8, 2018, to register and regularise before the authorities.
  2. Individuals who entered the country under illegal circumstances need to register and apply for a temporary residence permit within 30 days starting on April 23, 2018.
  3. Individuals who are staying in Chile with a residence permit or tourist visa that has expired will need to register and apply for a temporary residence permit within 90 days, starting on April 23, 2018.
  4. Individuals who are working without a working permit, individuals that, as of April 8, 2018, have a valid tourist visa, individuals that have a visa submission in process and individuals that have a reconsideration in process, will have to register and apply for a residence permit within 90 days, starting on April 23, 2018.

The following individuals will not be granted a permit: Those that are deemed a threat to national and international safety. Those that are involved in illegal trafficking of drugs, weapons, contraband or people. Also, those that have previously been expelled from Chile for reasons that are still currently invalid.

Furthermore, a permit will not be granted to those that have previous convictions or are under investigation for acts that are considered crimes by the Chilean law.

The Chilean authorities will determine the validity of the documents that are presented by the applicant. Based on this, the Chilean authorities can approve or reject the application.

Those that are currently residing under illegal conditions and who do not register before the deadline will be expelled from the country. Those that present invalid documents will also be expelled.

The requests will be processed from July 23, 2018. After this, in case of approval, the applicant will receive a visa that is valid for one year. After this period the applicant can apply for another permit according to the norm at that moment.

The cost of obtaining a temporary residence permit is 90 US Dollars.

Source: Biz Latam Hub

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