Venezuela, Haiti and Colombia were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2020. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Venezuela registered the largest decrease (-67 000) in flows to Chile compared to the previous year.

In 2021, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 49% to reach around 2 500. The majority of applicants came from Venezuela (2 100), Cuba (150) and Colombia (100). The largest increase since 2020 concerned nationals of Venezuela (1 700) and the largest decrease nationals of Colombia (-600). Of the 640 decisions taken in 2021, 2% were positive.

A new immigration law was approved by the Chilean Congress in December 2020 and published in April 2021 in the official gazette. The law establishes a new immigration framework and restructures the existing visas and permits. The National Immigration Services is henceforth responsible for all visa and residence applications, with the exception of tourist visas.

In the first half of 2022, several implementing regulations have been published. One of the key changes is the expansion of the Temporary Residence Visa, phasing out, among others, the Work Contract Visa. The revised Temporary Residence Visa has 16 subcategories: workers performing remunerated activities, foreign nationals seeking job opportunities, seasonal workers, studies, international agreements, humanitarian reasons among others. It has an initial duration of two years and is renewable in two-year increments. Previously, some temporary visas were issued with an initial duration of one year. This was the case of the Mercosur Temporary Residence Visa, which was issued for one year and renewable only once.

For migrant workers employed in Chile, obtaining the new Temporary Residence Visa instead of the Work Contract Visa implies that their visa is no longer tied to the validity of the work contract, which means that they may change employers or companies in Chile without affecting their work-authorised status. Furthermore, dependent family members of temporary residence holders will automatically receive a work authorisation, which was not the case previously.

Foreign nationals seeking to work and reside in Chile need to remain outside the country while completing their work and residence process. It is no longer possible to enter on a tourist visa and apply through an in-country process. Exceptions apply for migrants with family ties to a Chilean citizen or permanent resident. In-country applications can be submitted through the National Immigration Service’s online portal. In these cases, immigrants receive a receipt that allows them to reside, and in some cases to work, in Chile immediately.

An extraordinary regularisation process took place in 2021. For 180 days starting 20 April 2021, migrants who entered Chile through authorised crossing points before 18 March 2020 and who did not have a criminal record could apply for regularisation. Migrants who entered Chile illegally had until the end of the regularisation period to depart Chile without facing penalties. 

COVID-19 measures delayed immigration processes in 2021. Permanent residence applications had to be submitted online only for all nationalities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs suspended non-urgent legalisation and authentication services.  

The Ministry of Interior has extended the concession allowing Venezuelan nationals with expired passports or identification cards to enter and regularise their status in Chile. The documents must have been issued in or after 2013 and will now be considered valid until 22 April 2023.

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