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Foreign-born population – 2015

0.5 million; 53% women

3% of the population

Evolution since 2007: +98%

Main countries of birth:

Peru (34%), Argentina (14%), Bolivia (7%)

Temporary visa issuances in Chile have increased by 66% in 2018 compared with the previous year. In 2018, 443 000 temporary visas were granted, of which about a quarter were renewals or visa changes. Holders of temporary visas were mainly Venezuelan (33%), Haitian (28%) and Peruvian nationals (11%). Compared to 2017, the number of temporary visas doubled in the case of Venezuelans (+98%) and nearly tripled in the case of Haitians (+172%). About 1 500 first temporary visas were issued to tertiary-level international students.

In Chile, most holders of a temporary visa can receive the right to apply for permanent residence after one or two years in the country. The number of persons granted permanent residence rose 64% between 2017 and 2018, reaching 93 100. The four main countries of origin of migrants receiving the right of permanent residence were Venezuela (30%), Colombia (17%), Peru (17%) and Haiti (16%). Compared with 2017, the number of permanent permits issued to Venezuelans and Haitians increased by 136% and 31%, respectively.

In 2018, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 2%, reaching around 5 800. The majority of applicants come from Cuba (2 800), Venezuela (1 700) and Colombia (1 200). The largest increase since 2017 concerned nationals of Cuba (1 200) and the largest decrease, nationals of Colombia (-1 400). Of the 2 200 decisions taken in 2018, 8% were positive.

Emigration of Chileans to OECD countries increased by 13.4%, to 11 000. Approximately 32.8% of this group migrated to Spain, 16.9% to Germany and 15.4% to the United States.

The current legislation dates back to 1975. The Immigration Bill submitted to the National Congress in April 2018 introduces new categories of permits that the newly created Migration Policy Council will revise periodically. Upon adoption, the law will introduce a permit for seasonal workers and provide them with a Chilean identity card upon arrival. Rights to access health care and education services will be guaranteed to every migrant on the same grounds as nationals, whatever the migration category. A minimum of two years residence will be needed before they integrate into the general social security system and can receive full social benefits. The Bill eliminates criminal penalties for immigration violations. On the other hand, it simplifies and speeds up the process of expulsion for those foreigners who have violated the migratory law. The recognition of professional titles will be facilitated. Additionally, the creation of a National Registry of Foreigners is planned.

These initiatives were accompanied by a series of rapid implementation measures that included the creation of new categories of visas for people who wish to work or study in Chile. The Opportunity Temporary Visa, delivered since August 2018, allows qualified entrepreneurs or workers to come to Chile for a 12-month period. Applicants are assigned a score according to a series of criteria, which include the applicant's occupation and priority areas of the country. The permit is renewable once. Since August 2018, graduates of Chilean or foreign universities who wish to seek work in Chile can receive Temporary National or International Orientation Visas. Another major Amendment to the current Migratory and Domestic Policies of Foreign Immigration is that temporary residence permits for work reasons must be requested while in the country of origin and are no longer delivered to persons already present in Chile under a tourist visa.

Since April 2018, Haitian citizens wishing to visit Chile need to ask for a Consular visa. Since July of the same year, spouses or partners, minor children and students up to age 24 can request a 12-month Humanitarian Family Reunification Visa at the Chilean consulate in Haiti. A maximum of 10 000 visas are available every year and they are renewable once. In October 2018, the Chilean government implemented a voluntary return program to Haiti, at no cost to the applicants.

As Venezuela welcomed many Chileans in the 1970s, beginning April 2018, Venezuelan nationals wishing to reside in Chile can obtain a 12-month Visa of Democratic Responsibility at the Chilean Consulate in Venezuela, renewable once.

Chinese foreigners who were granted a visa for Chile or Argentina no longer require an additional visa to travel as tourists to one of these two countries.

The regularisation programme concerning those who are in the country illegally, are working illegally or are holding a tourist visa as of April 2018 received 155 000 applications.

For more information:

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Key figures on immigration and emigration - Chile
Key figures on immigration and emigration - Chile

Notes and sources are at the end of the chapter.


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