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Expats wishing to work in Chile will need a work permit. Getting a work permit for Chile is relatively straightforward and generally organised and sponsored through the hiring company. A work permit is therefore usually tied to an offer of employment and an official contract.
However, there are a few options for expats wanting to work in Chile without securing employment before their arrival.
They can enter Chile on a tourist visa and then look for employment and apply for a temporary residence permit. In some cases, those on a student visa may be authorised to work, provided they apply through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Migration. This is normally under a discretionary basis if the student needs funds to study or if the type of work is required by the course.
Applications and all supporting documents for a work permit should be submitted to the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security if applying from within Chile, or to the relevant Chilean consulate if from outside the country. The hiring company must also meet certain requirements and show that the foreigner has skills that are indispensable to the development of the country.
Types of work permits in Chile
There are two main types of work permits available: a Visa Subject to Contract and a Work Holiday Visa.
Visa Subject to Contract
This work permit hinges entirely on a contract with a Chilean employer. The permit is normally valid for up to two years, depending on the agreement between employer and employee as stipulated in the contract. After two years, the visa can then be renewed.
If living in Chile on a Visa Subject to Contract, the expat may bring dependants such as children or a spouse into the country, but these dependants will not automatically have the right to work in Chile. Dependants must go through the same visa application process, providing supporting documents to prove they are dependants. Chilean consulates help give the most up-to-date information on this.
If a contract ends or the employer changes, expats must obtain a new visa to remain in Chile. There is a 30-day allowance period in which to get a new visa.
Working Holiday Visa
This visa allows nationals of certain countries to travel and study or work in Chile for a year or less. These countries include Germany, Canada, Australia, the Czech Republic and New Zealand. Nationals from countries that are part of the Pacific Alliance may apply for a similar visa. Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 35.
This visa cannot normally be renewed and has several conditions attached. There are no simple allowances for dependants on this type of visa and Chilean authorities do not assist in the job search.
Registering work permits in Chile
When applying from outside the country, expats usually have 90 days to enter Chile once the work permit has been approved.
On arrival in Chile, these work permits must be registered with the Policía de Investigaciones (PDI) and a Chilean ID must be obtained and registered at the Civil Registry and Identification Service of Chile (Servicio de Registro Civil e Identificación de Chile).
Recently, an opportunity for a temporary electronic stamp (Estampado Provisorio Electrónico, EPE) has been introduced. This applies to expats in Chile with a residence permit but who did not receive a stamp in their passport or an ID document. They can follow online procedures through the official Minrel website to receive this temporary stamp.
*Visa and work permit requirements are subject to change at short notice and expats should consult the respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
►Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs – minrel.gob.cl
►Departamento de Extranjería y Migración – extranjeria.gob.cl
►Read Visas for Chile for more on entry requirements and work permits for Chile
"My company obtained and arranged the necessary documents/permits and engaged with an immigration consultant. It is probably best to use services of immigration consultant as the process can be lengthy and frustrating at times." Read more in Karim's interview.
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