In 2019, 328 000 temporary visas were granted, of which about a quarter were renewals or visa changes. Temporary visa issuances in Chile decreased by 25% in 2019 compared with 2018, following a 66% increase in that year. Holders of temporary visas were mainly Venezuelan (49%), Haitian (11%) and Colombian and Peruvian nationals (10% each). Compared to 2018, the number of temporary visas was still on the increase in the case of Venezuelans (+11%) but decreased sharply in the case of Haitians (-70%) in line with the tightening of their conditions of entry. The number of first temporary visas granted to tertiary-level international students was on the decrease with 1 000 permits delivered in 2019, half of the levels observed in the previous years.

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 dropped by 5% between 2018 and 2019, reaching 88 500. The four main countries of origin of migrants receiving the right of permanent residence were Venezuela (38%), Haiti (23%), Colombia (12%), and Peru (11%). Compared with 2018, the number of permanent permits issued to Venezuelans and Haitians increased in 2019 by 19% and 39%.

In 2019, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by 87%, to reach around 800. The majority of applicants came from Cuba (300), Colombia (300) and Venezuela (200). The largest decrease concerned nationals of Cuba (-2 500) and nationals of Venezuela (-1 400). Of the 4 100 decisions taken in 2019, 0.4% were positive.

In June 2019, following Peru’s recent decision to impose entry visa requirements on Venezuelan nationals, resulting in increasing flows to Chile as an alternative destination, the Chilean government published Decree No. 237. With immediate effect, it states that Venezuelan nationals must obtain a tourist visa at a Chilean consulate prior to entry for tourist purposes. This requires them to provide a valid passport (including expired passports issued after 2013), proof of economic solvency and an invitation letter from a Chilean company or person. Venezuelans can then apply for a 90-day work authorisation which may be requested at the airport and is usually granted in one day.

Foreign nationals submitting in-country immigration applications started to experience delays in 2018 – with the implementation of the online appointment system and further immigration processing disruptions since late 2019. To reduce travel delays, in May 2019 the Immigration Department removed a rule requiring foreign nationals with pending new or renewed visa or temporary residence applications to obtain a visa-in-process or residence-in-process certificate to travel abroad. In October 2019, the Immigration Department retracted this decision. Eventually, in February 2020, the requirement for foreign nationals to obtain travel authorisation documents prior to leaving Chile was eliminated for both temporary and permanent migrants.

According to the current legislation, which dates back to 1975, a foreign national must have resided in Chile for two years under a work contract visa or for one year under a temporary resident visa prior to applying for permanent residence. In 2019, the number of applications for permanent residence increased following the 2018 regularisation. At the same time, applications for a temporary visa decreased. To speed up the process and in accordance with its commitment to reduce paperwork, since May 2018 applicants for permanent residence must submit their applications online instead of by mail (except for nationals of Brazil, China, Cuba, Haiti and Peru). One visit in person to one office remains necessary to obtain a ClaveÚnica before starting the online procedure. Applicants must also submit a criminal clearance certificate from their country of origin. Although all procedures are intended to be made in 90 minutes, the Immigration Department will have to complete the review of applications previously filed by mail before starting processing the digital ones.

The second phase of the 2018 regularisation ended in July 2019. Around 90% of the 155 500 applications were accepted. They mainly concerned Haitians, Peruvians and Bolivians. On 1 April 2019, Chile waived visa requirements for Indian nationals who were holders of US visas and entering Chile for business or tourism.

From 15 March 2020, the government limited entries to Chilean nationals and foreigners with resident status or a visa-in-process receipt. Permanence residency applications were suspended for nationals from Brazil, China, Cuba, Haiti and Peru, as those countries need to present the applications in person at ChileAtiende. Other nationals could follow the online procedure. From 8 June, the job search period for foreigners under a contract visa who lost their job during the pandemic was extended from 30 to 180 days.

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