Chile grants grace period for illegal immigrants

SANTIAGO – Confronting the conditions of many immigrants, the Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera has extended a deadline to regularize their conditions, and also created new migration policies. Piñera defined this as a “gradual process.”

Chile’s government has created a law that modifies the current migration system which dates from 1975. The new legislation offers a new visa for people who want to stay in Chile. Besides illegal immigrants will be able  to legalize their situation. They will have 30 to 90 days to legalize their stay. Specifically, immigrants that have lived illegally until April 8 have 30 days to present their record to the migration department, and those whose visitor visa has expired will have 90 days to renew it.

The government affirmed that this process will be gradual, and people with no crime record neither in their homeland nor in Chile will have access to this program. This plan will make it possible to obtain visas of 90 days, but without the possibility to perform paid work. “This is not about forgiving any crime, but about regularization, which is quite different. What we want is to give those who have been living illegally an open process to improve their situation in our country, but subject to conditions” declared the Minister of Interior, Andrés Chadwick.

The action also includes a Visa system predicted by Chadwick to be current by August 01st, in which immigrants can apply for a visa in their native country as well as in Chile, extendable for just one time, and after that they could request permanent residence. Besides, a temporary opportunity visa is set for those who seek work in Chile. On the other side the temporary visa of international orientation is for holders of a postgraduate degree from any institution the QS World University Rankings endorsed. With the latter the government hopes to attract scientific talent, doctors and other professionals.

As a reaction to this law, the president of the Association of Latin-American Immigrants Fernando Echeverria stressed that this policy, especially the temporary visas, represent a great regression because plenty Latin-American countries do not have the conditions that enable their citizens to fulfil the requirements. For her part Paulina Núñez  right-wing Deputy of the National Renovation party said: we value a government that takes the political decision to advance a migration law, and that some actions are taken via an administrative route, because this way we start today with actions that are imperative.”


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