What is the change? Chile’s Immigration Department has published new rules that make travel abroad easier for foreign nationals who are awaiting an official response after submitting a visa or permanent residency application.

What does the change mean? Foreign nationals awaiting an official response may now travel abroad and return to Chile by presenting a courier receipt from the post office that sends and receives information from the Immigration Department (Correos de Chile). Previously, foreign nationals often ran into difficulty traveling abroad if their status expired before an official response to their application was issued.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. The change was implemented April 3.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work visas, permanent residency.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals submitting applications in Chile for work visa renewals or changing their status in Chile from temporary worker to permanent residence and awaiting an official response from immigration authorities.

Background: Prior to the implementation of this change, foreign nationals who had submitted their visa or permanent residency application were permitted to leave the country during the 60-day period after their visa expiry date. Individuals who had completed the full visa validity period (one year for temporary residents and two years for subject-to-contract visa holders) could leave the country during this period and not be subject to present official documentation from the Immigration Department. However, due to delays on the official documentation from the Immigration Department, former visa holders were often not permitted to leave the country in practice because the border police required an official document from the Immigration Department indicating that the visa or permanent residency application was in process. In some cases, foreign nationals in this situation were not permitted to leave the country.

In recent months, Chile has been experiencing Immigration Department processing delays and visas often expire during the application process. Tourist status, for example, expires after 90 days, but it is taking four or five months for the issuance of an official response that visa applications are being processed. Permanent residency applications can only be submitted within 90 days before a visa expires, but official responses are taking up to six months. On April 3, the Immigration Department published new information instructing the International Police to allow foreign nationals awaiting a response on work visa or residency applications to travel abroad and return to Chile with a courier receipt from Correos de Chile. The Immigration Department has subsequently confirmed that dependents of a primary visa holder can also travel abroad using a courier receipt while they await an official response.

Analysis & Comments: The change is welcome news that will increase mobility options for foreign employees who are awaiting an official response after submitting applications for work visas or permanent residency.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.