What is the change? In-country immigration processing of work permits and residence permits is experiencing significant delays. The recent increased influx of Venezuelan and Haitian nationals has increased demand on immigration services and lengthened timelines for immigration processing.

What does the change mean? Visa applications processing, which in the past took between four to eight weeks, is now taking up to eight months. In addition, provisional work permits granted during the processing of the visas are taking up to three months to be issued from the date the main visa is filed. As a result, employees who travel to Chile on a temporary tourist visa (valid for 90 days) and file their visa application in-country may not have a decision on their work permit application before their tourist visa expires. Employers should consider whether to file visa applications at a Chilean consulate abroad instead and await approval before the employee travels to Chile.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: In-country immigration processing, including all long-term permits such as temporary work permits, and residence permits (Mercosur and non-Mercosur).
  • Business impact: The delays may affect business schedules and work start dates, particularly for employees who plan to travel to Chile initially on a temporary tourist visa and file their work permit application in country.
  • Next steps: Employers should work closely with their immigration advisor to determine best strategies in individual cases.

Background: Foreigners are not permitted to work without a work permit or work visa. However, Chilean immigration regulation allows foreign individuals to enter on a tourist visa or visa waiver and apply for a Special Work Permit for Tourists in-country; this allows them to work legally, register on local payroll and obtain a provisional Chilean ID while their visa and provisional work permit application is pending with immigration authorities. However, the tourist work permit is valid for only 30 days—or until the person leaves the country—and can be renewed as long as they have a valid tourist card. The tourist card is valid for 90 days with a possible extension of another 90 days. The current delays in immigration process may mean that employees will be required to renew their Special Work Permits for Tourist several times until the provisional work permit is issued and the visa is approved.

Analysis & Comments: Individuals coming to Chile should consider whether they prefer to apply for a work visa at a Chilean consulate prior to their coming to Chile rather than do it in-country and face delays and expensive government fees.  The consular processing entails greater documentary requirements, but processing times are significantly shorter (30 days) than in-country processing (eight months).

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.