Coronavirus in Chile MIGRATION

Coronavirus Means Good News For Migrants in Chile

It’s not all bad news during the COVID-19 pandemic: the Chilean government recently issued a decree related to the backlog of foreigners waiting for new residence visas. The result is one that should have many breathing a sigh of relief. The government has extended the validity of Chilean ID cards for two groups of foreigners, writes local immigration attorney Nury van de Grift Álvarez-Aragón in her own analysis.

Many foreigners who now call Chile home have watched their residence applications languish for months with no update from the government.

On Mar. 27, 2020,  the government promulgated a decree effective Apr. 1, 2020, that will extend the expiration date of a Chilean ID card (cédula de identidad or RUN”) for anyone whose RUN expired in 2019 or expires in 2020 and who made or makes a timely application for a definitive (permanent) residence visa, an extension of a temporary residence visa, or a change of residence visa.

As stated in the decree, the government took this extraordinary step in view of the “exponential increase in residence applications” in 2019 coupled with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The “aim” of the decree is to avoid new coronavirus infections as a result of mass gatherings of foreign residents at the offices of the Civil Registry and Identification Service.

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Who Will Benefit From This Decree?

The decree will benefit two groups of people who made or make timely applications for definitive (permanent) residence visas, extensions of temporary residence visas, or changes of residence visa:

  • Group 1, foreigners whose RUNs expired in 2019. The validity of their RUNs will be extended until December 31, 2020. (For example, if the RUN expired Oct. 23, 2019, it is now valid until Dec. 31, 2020.)
  • Group 2, foreigners whose RUNs expire in 2020. The validity of their RUNs will be extended one year from the date of expiration. (For example, if the RUN expired Feb. 15, 2020, it is now valid until Feb. 15, 2021; or if it expires July 15, 2020, it is now valid until July 15, 2021.)

It is important to note that a foreigner’s residence application must nevertheless be made before his or her visa expires, and the visa expiration date is always on or before the original date of expiration of the RUN, i.e., without regard to this special extension.

Foreigners may prove their status as applicants with the “receipt of sending” issued by a provincial government in the case of the regions or the Department of Immigration if the application was made in the Metropolitan Region. This is the “comprobante de envío” that is received either online or via Correos de Chile.

The Most Important Benefits Of The Decree

Critical benefits to foreigners in these circumstances are that their RUNs will be valid throughout Chile for an extended period of time; they will be able to continue to conduct paid activities, legally; and they will be able to carry out all administrative formalities and procedures requiring a RUN (e.g., the execution of work or other agreements at a notary’s office).

Foreigners with a residence visa who are currently outside the country (for example, those with a temporary residence permit or “en trámite” waiting for permanent residency) should also benefit from this decree. Upon arriving back in Chile, they should be allowed to enter the country without issue if they meet the foregoing requirements.

Nury van de Grift Álvarez-Aragón is an attorney and founder of Santown Legal, a multicultural legal studio conveniently based in downtown Santiago, that offers legal and administrative services to the international community living in Chile, including expats, migrants, and entrepreneurs. She can also be found on Facebook.

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