Chile is one of the most important economies in South America, with crucial sectors such as mining and manufacturing. Known for being prosperous, Chile continues to play an important role in globalization. It has the region’s highest human development index, as well as some of the best universities in the world.
As one of South America's biggest and most stable economies, Chile attracts workers from across the globe. This attraction quickly leads to questions about applying for work visas and permits.
Below is a guide to what a Chile work visa is, the different types of visas, and how to apply for one as a foreign national.
A Chile work visa is a temporary visa, valid for up to two years, that allows residency in Chile for foreign workers, provided they are employed by an on-site job in Chile. It allows foreigners to bring family members that are dependents (spouses or children under 18) with them, as long as their family members also apply for a visa.
Eligible international residents can renew their visas every two years. The cost of this type of visa depends on what country the applicant is from, and it can range anywhere from $50 to $150. The price applicants pay is independent of how long they plan to work in Chile.
Under new terms from a restructured policy, Chile’s government revamped its visa categories and immigration structure. The country replaced residence and work permits with a Temporary Residence visa category, with numerous subcategories. These days, the term “Chile work permit” seems to be used interchangeably with “Chile work visa.”
Foreigners cannot work in Chile without a Chile work visa. If a foreign worker intends to go to Chile with the intent of working for more than 90 days, they need to apply approximately 45 days prior to traveling to Chile.
To get the visa, foreign workers must undergo a two-part process:
Submit your application online.
Carefully review the rules and regulations before applying
Fill out the application on the government website
Attach electronic copies of the required documents
Once submitted, your application will be approved or denied
Visit the nearest Chilean consulate.
If approved, the closest Chilean consulate will schedule an appointment with you
Get your passport stamped
Submit the original forms of the documents uploaded to the online application
Pay the Chile work visa fee
Letter from the hiring Chilean company
Copy of the work contract that is: - In alignment with Chile’s rules and regulations - In Spanish - Signed by the hiring company
Copy of any degrees and certificates applicable to the job
Copy of passport
Recent passport photo
Typed application and personal information forms in English
Criminal Record Certificate from your country
Clean bill of health from a registered practitioner
Visa fee (after consulate approval)
Every foreigner who plans on working in Chile requires a Chilean work visa/permit. Work permit exemptions are not allowed. However, various types of permits are available for different situations.
Type of Work Permit
Working in Chile as an employee of a foreign company.
Work permit as a tourist
Month-long work permit for foreign companies that have employees for short durations of time.
"Subject to contract" visa
Most common work visa. Allows foreigners to work and live in Chile if they have a signed contract with a local Chilean company.
Working holiday visa
Allows foreigners to study or work in Chile for 12 months or less.
The duration of a Chile work visa is a 2-year maximum, with an option to renew for two more years. Your renewal must occur within 90 days of expiration. Workers must get a new Chile work visa within 30 days if their contract ends or if they change employers.
Foreign workers can also apply for permanent residency if they've lived in Chile for over five consecutive years. However, this process is much more complex than work permit renewal.
Foreigners don’t have to travel to Chile to find a job. There are two main ways to find a job in Chile.
Use your personal network (or pituto, as Chileans call it)
To check if an employer in Chile is compliant, workers should have a basic understanding of the country’s labor and employment laws. They must know and establish their employment rights with their employer. Prospective workers can conduct research and search for current news about the employer. Also, potential employees should seek the proper services to review any contracts signed with the employer, if needed.
While Spanish is Chile’s primary language, many workers speak English. However, learning the native tongue can open the door for more opportunities for foreign workers and improve work relationships with Chilean coworkers. Foreign workers are also encouraged to participate in Chilean Spanish and immersion classes to learn some of the specific cultural phrasings.
Foreign workers may have a hard time finding a job in Chile due to the contract and work visa requirements, but possessing the following credentials can prove beneficial:
Understanding of the Spanish language
A relevant CV with qualifications and experiences related to the job
Chilean business connections
Employers in Chile have several options when it comes to hiring foreign employees:
Hire a permanent foreign worker. This option works best for employers who have found skilled foreign workers and wish to proceed with the proper work visa documentation.
Hire a temporary foreign worker or contractor. This is ideal for employers with short-term projects or if an employer wants to give a foreign worker a trial period before fully committing to them.
Hire an intern. This is suitable for employers who want to test the waters with fresh perspectives and not have to be wary of compliance risks.
Chilean employers must maintain local employment laws and protections. Failure to comply may lead to tax penalties, fines, and other harsh legal cases. A few basic protocols include:
Properly classifying workers
Understanding of Chile’s labor laws
Ensuring receipt of any requirements for work visas or permits
Paying workers accurate wages on time
Providing standard employee benefits
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