It is relatively easy to obtain a visa for Chile for different purposes of an immigrant’s stay. For example, to get a residence visa and work permit, you only need an employment contract from just about every local company and you are entitled to a so-called “under contract” visa. After the second year of continuous employment, you are entitled to a permanent residence permit, and three years later you can apply for naturalization and a Chilean passport (as long as you meet the minimum time in the country). The red tape involved in the immigration process is minimal and it is not entirely necessary to hire a lawyer, but some local guidance and assistance make the process somewhat easier as the system is often slow in registering visas.
Types of Visa
Tourist Visa – The most common and recommended way is for foreigners to enter the country with a tourist visa and then apply for a status change for other visas for Chile. It is not recommended that foreigners apply to their consulate in their home country before coming to Chile for other types of residence permits.
Temporary Residence Visa – This is the first type of visa issued when applying for some type of permanent visa for Chile. A temporary residence permit is usually granted after applying for and obtaining a visa under the Retirement and recurring 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 a temporary residence permit before they are eligible for a permanent residence permit in Chile. Depending on the type of visa, you are temporarily in Chile for one to two years and you must be physically in the country for at least 180 days within one year to qualify for a permanent residence permit.
Most common types of temporary residence visas:
Retirement and Regular Income Visa: This is a common visa for people who want to live, work, retire, invest or more in Chile.
Professional visa: The applicant must prove that he has professional training as well as sufficient income to support his stay.
Contract Work Visa: You must have a contract with a Chilean employer. This visa requires two years of temporary residence to qualify for permanent residence.
Independent Worker Visa: This is the newest visa in Chile and allows the applicant to work for numerous employers and provides a faster path to full permanent residency than a contract work visa.
Student Visa for Chile: A temporary residence visa for students who are admitted to a Chilean university or other educational institution in Chile.
Investor Visa: This visa is complicated and should be avoided unless the circumstances are such that you are absolutely ineligible for another type of visa.
Permanent Residence Permit Visa: This should be the ultimate purpose for residence applications, and regardless of the application type, it requires at least 180 days of temporary residence in Chile within a period of one year. A permanent residence visa generally lasts for five years and can be extended indefinitely. After five years, permanent residents have the option to apply for Chilean citizenship or dual citizenship without renouncing their current citizenship.
Moving to Chile
Most people find moving to Chile an easy transition. It is a modern, stable and relatively prosperous country that offers expats a great quality of life. With one of the continent’s largest economies, large volumes of foreign trade as a result of numerous free trade agreements and a booming market-oriented economy, Chile is a good choice for expats considering moving to the region.
Chile has public and private health insurance and its health standards are relatively high across the country, although private medical facilities are somewhat more advanced in the larger cities. There is also a multitude of international schools offering quality education, mainly in the larger cities across Chile and especially Santiago.
Banking in Chile can sometimes make progress in ‘Chilean times’ – especially if you don’t speak basic Spanish. There are banks that have a better reputation than others, and banking with the bank the company uses can bring many benefits. It is possible to make international transfers, but this may take a while.
The life of expats in Chile is lively and fun. With a high standard of living, beautiful surroundings and a welcoming population, many expats choose to extend their time there – a clear sign that this South American country is an excellent choice to move to.