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Chile – the working visa system: current conditions and planned changes

Written by
Munita & Olavarría largest boutique firm focusing on HR law.
Chile has recently announced changes to the visa system for individuals wishing to work in the country. This article sets out details of the current system and provides information on the changes that have taken effect from April 2018 and the amendments to temporary working visas that will take effect from 1 August 2018.

Visas currently available for working in Chile

There are two types of visas available for foreigners wishing to live and work in Chile: temporary visas and employment contract visas (there are also special work authorisations available for tourists and students). In Chile, these visas must be processed through the Immigration Department of the Interior Ministry, or abroad, through the Chilean Consulates.

Temporary working visas

A temporary visa allows the holder, in general terms, to carry out any activity in Chile, without any further limitations other than those established by law. It is granted to foreigners who can demonstrate family ties or interests in the country and whose residence is deemed useful and convenient. The visa application can be founded on different bases, including:

  • The applicant has a profession or is a higher-level technician and has a job offer from a company in Chile;
  • The applicant is an employee who is paid abroad, and will carry out activities in a company in Chile;
  • The applicant is an entrepreneur, investor, trader or other type of business person, who is travelling to Chile for periods longer than ninety days for reasons related to their activities and interests in Chile;
  • The applicant is a citizen of one of the MERCOSUR member states (that is, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay or Uruguay), who is in Chile, regardless of the reason for their stay.


This visa is valid for one year, extendable for up to a maximum total duration of two years, after which the foreign national must request Permanent Residence or leave the country.

Employment contract visas

Employment contract visas are granted to foreign citizens who intend to travel to Chile to fulfill an employment contract for an employer legally domiciled in Chile, as well as those people who are in Chile and intend to settle there for the same purpose: to provide services for a specific employer in Chile. This type of visa restricts the foreign national to working exclusively for that employer (i.e. the employer whose employment contract with the individual was the basis for granting their visa). This means that if an individual has an employment contract visa and their employment relationship ends for any reason, the visa expires. To regularise this situation, the foreign national must have a new employer and must apply to the Immigration Department to change the identity of the employer on the employment contract visa. This type of visa is valid for up to two years, which may be extended for a two-year period. In any event, the foreign national can opt for Permanent Residence after two years.

Both temporary and employment contract visas can be granted to members of the applicant’s family who live with them. Family members include the spouse and the parents or children of both or of one of the spouses, as long as they are dependent and cannot do paid work in Chile.

Changes to the system for temporary working visas

In April 2018, the Government announced new administrative measures relating to residence visas that allow their holders to work in Chile.

As of 23 April 2018, the temporary visa for work reasons was abolished. However, three new types of temporary visas will come into force on 1 August 2018. They are the following:

Temporary Opportunity Visa

The application for this visa must be made outside of Chile. It will be geared towards migrants from all countries who want to come to Chile to work or do business.

Temporary International Orientation Visa

The application for this visa should be made at the Chilean Consulate in the applicant’s country of origin or residence. It will be granted to foreigners who wish to work or do business in Chile and who hold a postgraduate degree from a prestigious foreign university.

Temporary National Orientation Visa

The application for this visa should be made in Chile and it will be granted automatically at the expiry of a student visa for foreigner students who obtain postgraduate qualifications from accredited Chilean universities and who wish to do business or work in Chile.