It is relatively easy to obtain a visa for Chile to suit various purposes of an immigrant’s stay. For instance, to obtain a residency visa and work permit, all you need is a work contract from just about any local company, and you are entitled to what is called a “sujeta a contrato” visa. After the second year of continuous employment, you are entitled to permanent residency and three years later, you can apply for naturalization and a Chilean passport (as long as you meet minimum time-in-country requirements). The red tape involved in the immigration process is minimal and it is not entirely necessary to hire a lawyer, however, some local guidance and assistance does ease the process somewhat as the system is often slow in which to register the visas.
Types of Visa
Tourist Visa – The most common and recommended way is for foreigners to enter the country under a tourist visa, and then apply for a change of status to other forms of visa for Chile. It is not recommended that foreigners apply at their consulate in their home country before coming for other types of residency visas for Chile.
Temporary Residency Visa – This is the first type of visa issued when applying for any sort of permanent visa for Chile. A temporary residency visa is most commonly granted after applying and being granted a visa under the Retirement and Periodic income visa, work visa, professional visa, family member, or through an Investor Visa application in Chile. All people, regardless of the reasons for applying, must first complete temporary residency before they qualify for Permanent residency in Chile. Depending on the type of visa, you will be a temporary resident in Chile for one to two years, and you must be physically in the country at least 180 days within a one-year period to qualify for applying for Permanent residency.
Most Common Types of Temporary Residency Visas:
Retirement and Periodic income visa: this is acommonly used visa for people wishing to live in Chile, work, retire, invest, or many other things.
Professional visa: The applicant must prove both that they have a professional degree and sufficient income to support their stay.
Contract Work Visa: You must be under contract with a Chilean employer. This visa takes two years of temporary residency to qualify for permanent residency.
Independent worker visa: This is the newest visa in Chile, and allows the applicant to work for numerous employers and provides a quicker path to full permanent residency than a contract work visa.
Chile Student Visa: A temporary residency visa granted to students that have been accepted to a Chilean University or other educational institute in Chile.
Investor visa: This visa is complicated to attain and should be avoided, unless circumstances are such that you absolutely do not qualify for any other type of visa.
Permanent Residency Visa: This should be the ultimate goal for residency application, and regardless of the application type it requires at least 180 days of temporary residency in Chile within a one-year period. A permanent residency visa generally last for five years, and is renewable indefinitely. After five years’ permanent residents have the option to apply for Chilean Citizenship or Dual Citizenship without the need to renounce their current citizenship.
Moving to Chile
Most people find moving to Chile to be an easy transition. It is a modern, stable and relatively wealthy country that offers expats a great quality of life. With one of the largest economies on the continent, large amounts of foreign trade as a result of numerous free trade agreements and a thriving market orientated economy, Chile is a good choice for expats considering relocating to the region.
Chile has public and private healthcare insurance and its healthcare standards are relatively high throughout the country, although the private medical facilities in the larger cities are slightly more advanced. There is also a multitude of international schools, offering quality education, primarily located in the larger cities across Chile and particularly in Santiago.
Banking in Chile can sometimes progress on ‘Chilean time’ – particularly if one doesn’t speak basic Spanish. There are some banks that have better reputations than others and banking with the bank which one’s company uses can offer many advantages. It is possible to make international transfers but these can take time.
Expat life in Chile is vibrant and fun-filled. With great living standards, beautiful surroundings and a welcoming population, many expats choose to extend their time there – a sure sign that this South American country is a great choice to relocate to.