Chile eases visa rules for Venezuelans

Chile is planning to ease visa regulations for Venezuelans fleeing Maduro. In light of the “grave democratic crisis” gripping Venezuela, President Sebastian Pinera said he was creating a so-called visa of “democratic responsibility” which Venezuelan citizens could obtain through the Chilean embassy in Caracas.

The move seeks to streamline the process of getting a visa for all Venezuelan nationals. Before, Venezuelans had visa-on-arrival access to Chile as tourists where those with a specific need could then apply for a student visa, a work permit or for permanent residency. But under the new system, such visas will be available to all Venezuelans, regardless of their status — as long as they apply in Caracas, in a move aimed at significantly cutting red tape for those wanting to leave.

Announcing details of an in-depth reform of Chile’s immigration laws, Pinera said that the moment had come “to put our house in order.” Over the past four years, Chile has become one of Latin America’s top destinations for migrants, unveiling figures last week which pointed to more than a million foreigners in the country, almost double the previous estimates. Around 300,000 of the migrants are believed to be living illegally in the country, the ministry said.

Most of the migrants are believed to be from Venezuela and Haiti, with the new rules putting an end to the visa-on-arrival policy for citizens of both countries. For Haitians, Chile is to impose a simple 30-day tourist visa which would only be available through the consulate in Port-au-Prince. It would also offer a 12-month “humanitarian visa” to Haitians with family in Chile. The new rules also state that anyone entering the country as a tourist will no longer be able to change their status.