MIGRATION

Chilean consulates start receiving new visa requests from Haitians and Venezuelans

SANTIAGO – Haitian and Venezuelan immigrants to Chile have begun to comply with new immigration laws, implemented by the Chilean government in an attempt to regulate the flow of travelers into the country. Haitians will now apply with a Tourism Consular Visa, and Venezuelans with a new document called the Democratic Responsibility Visa.

In the first 24 hours of the new law, Chilean authorities saw over a thousand applications for the two documents. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that on the first day, 1,400 Venezuelans requested a visa in Caracas and another 120 in Puerto Ordaz, while in Haiti, 7 applications were filed in Port-au-Prince.

Victor Nakada, Chile’s National Chief of Immigration, said that members of the immigration department will work to establish “parameters for document verification of Haitian and Venezuelan citizens who want to travel to Chile and opt to get a visa.” 

Many pro-immigration political and social groups have raised concerns about the distinction the visas make based on nationality.  “There’s an unequal treatment towards immigrants and they shouldn’t create types of visas according to nationality,” Marckenson Jean-Baptist, a Haitian political analyst, told Diario El Mercurio.

When the new law went into effect, Haitian immigrants were given only 7 days notice to adapt to the Tourist Consular Visa requirements. The tourism visa is valid for 30 days without “purposes of immigration, residence of development of paid activities”. If a Haitian citizen wants to work or seek humanitarian aid, he or she will have to opt for a special visa.

Venezuelan nationals will be able to apply for a Democratic Responsibility Visa that allows them to stay for a year, with the option to extend for a second year. “We can’t keep allowing thousands of people enter our country without respecting the Immigration Law, because they come pretending to be tourists and they aren’t and they’re often abused and exploited by true mafias of people trafficking”, President Sebastian Pinera said when announcing the new regulations.

Official statistics show that the number of Haitian nationals that came to Chile as tourists and later asked for another type of visa increased from 8,419 to 35,277 between 2015 and 2016, and the number of instances among Venezuelan nationals during the same period increased from 9,501 to 30,751. President Pinera said that Venezuelans were given a different consideration because they’re facing “a serious democratic crisis” and due to the fact that, in the past, Venezuela was “a country that welcomed many Chileans that were looking for refuge at their borders”.

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