Thursday, December 10, 2009

Definite Permanence, my interpretation of the visa process

I am applying for permanent residency, called definite permanence (permanencia definitiva) in Chile. I previously had temporary residence (residencia temporaria, a 1 year visa with employment flexibility, after which you can either renew for 1 year or apply for permanent residence at its expiration). The definite permanence is processed in around 6 months, and lasts for 5 years. 30-45 days after applying you should receive a copy of the application form in the mail that says “en tramite” and grants you the legal status under your previous visa until your new one is processed.

For me, going through this process was somewhat difficult, especially to organize all the information and understand exactly how to go about each step. I made a number of mistakes, many of them were even things I was misinformed about by the actual officials/websites running the various processes. I am including these frustrations and mistakes along the way because its possible others might be led in the same direction and need to sort it out. I do not yet have the visa in my hand, so the end is not yet in sight, its still possible more information is requested of me or even that I am denied.

I applied following the
Pcorreo-10 form for profesionales o tecnicos que trabajan a honorarios o con contrato (professionals or technicians that work on a fee base o hired contract English Spanish). I am essentially a fee base (freelance) employee that sends boletas (like paystubs used for tax purposes) to each company that owes me money, and they retain and submit the %10 taxes. Applying for permanent residency under different circumstances will require you to submit different information.

It is important to note there are a couple small differences between the English and Spanish versions of the document of requirements. I would hope they accept both versions equally and soon invest in updating both versions equally. For instance, the English version says you may apply 30 days before the expiration of your previous visa, the Spanish version says up to 90 days ahead of time. Also the English version requests your passport number on your photos and the Spanish version requests your Chilean RUN, which you will have already if you are going from temporary to permanent residence. Lastly the application form itself differs in a couple of questions.

Disclaimer: this is my personal interpretation and not an official source. I wanted to collect and share this information to be able to help friends and offer reassurance and ideas for those going through the process of temporary residence to definitive permanence. Many of the things required are somewhat ambiguous and the time and money involved is not apparent on the form. The information here is not official, and may change at any point so its important to check the original sources. Questions can be directed to Extranjeria 600-626-4222, 9am to 4pm. I’ve never been put on hold more than a minute or two. ***


From here I will follow along the required and unmentioned steps.

• Fotocopy of passport. The pages with your picture, signature, and previous visas in Chile.
• Fotocopy of certificate of registry
(certificado de registro) issued by International Police. This form was given to you when you registered at the International Police the first time (probably a year ago if you’ve had the temporary visa). It has your picture, signature, a stamp, etc… You should already have this form, though they may allow you to request a duplicate copy.
• Certificate of police record (
certificado de antecedents), from the Civil Registry (Registro Civil). This requires waiting in a long line, and the cost was $1,050 pesos.
• Certificate of Trips (
certificado de viajes) - also from the International Police, but this must be recent. It’s a list of all of the times you have entered and exited the country (I think just by plane). This is immediate and very fast to obtain in Valparaiso, the process takes a few minutes and the Valparaíso location rarely has anybody waiting. It cost me $800 pesos. Many have told me that the International Police in Santiago can have longer lines.
• Photocopies of both sides of your Chilean ID card.
• 3 recent photos, 3x2cm. with name and passport or
cedula ID #. This can be done at little photography studios all over the place, in Valparaiso it usually costs $1,000 pesos and takes about 10 minutes if there isn’t a huge line.
• A letter in which you indicate your motives for applying for this visa and how you have created bonds with Chileans. Personally, I chose to talk about my boyfriend, my community sports activities, and my work and how I have integrated into these peoples’ lives and the community as a whole. It was a little over a page long. I wrote mine in Spanish, English might be accepted because at the end of the form it says documentation in English, French, Portuguese and Italian does not need to be translated. Then again, who knows if they actually liked my letter.

• Legalized copy of your degree. This process is not fast nor easy. It may be necessary to have a parent or someone who lives closer to your university and Chilean consulate be in charge of receiving and sending your diploma from one place to the next. I lucked out- I faxed my request for a duplicate diploma exactly 1 month before I received my document (signed and stamped by the various US officials) in Valparaiso (with nearly overnight UPS that cost US$70! But my mom insisted on mailing it with someone that made me sign to receive because I have had lots of trouble receiving mail, and it was a matter of time).
Legalization, according to the Chicago Consulate (check your own for variations), consists of:
1. Document must be signed by a school official (principle, counselor, registrar) before a notary public. My university said it could take 3 weeks to print a new diploma though luckily mine got processed by chance in just one week. Keep in mind that as an adult you may have to be the one requesting this document instead of your parents, and may require you to fax a credit card number or mail a check.
2. The signature of the Notary must be certified by either County Clerk or Secretary of State, the Secretary of State Calls this process Apostille. (This is incorrect on the Chicago Consulate document. The Secretary of State does not call this process Apostille because the Apostille processing is used for documents for countries that signed the
Hague Treaty in 1961, which Chile did not. From what I gather, the correct process to request from the Minnesota Secretary of State is the “Certificate of Office”, it would be necessary to make sure each state offers this or something comparable.) In Minnesota this could be done by mail or in person, and cost $5 per form.
3. The document must be sent, with a $12 money order, to the Consulate General of Chile.
4. Please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the return of the documents to you.
5. Validate this document by legalizing it in the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Chile, Legalization Department at Agustinas 1320, 1st floor, Santiago. Monday to Friday, 9am to 2pm. Its about a block from La Moneda. I arrived early and there was nobody in line, the process was basically getting my document stamped on the back, and I didn’t have to pay anything (besides the $6,000 bus and metro to and from Santiago… if you live very far from Santiago check the website for alternatives through the local government or ways to mail it).

• “You must prove the income received during the full period of the visa (see point D)” Ironically, point D asks for you to send the boletas from only the past 3 months. But later I got a follow up request asking for every single boleta I’ve sent in 2008 and 2009.

(Part C. is documentation for dependents.. NA in my case)

D. Proving Income
1. For Freelance Professional or technician (me)
• Photocopy of
Iniciacion de actividades (Business Initiation Certificate). I’ve been told you get this when you originally register with SII, though I couldn’t find it anywhere, or you can print a copy from their website. Go to, under the tap “registro de contribuyentes”, go down to “inicio de actividades”, and “consulta de estado de solicitudes”
• Photocopy of the
boletas de honorarios sent in the past 3 months (again, I sent the previous 4 months just to be safe, but they sent a follow up letter asking for my boletas from the whole year. These can be reprinted from the SII website, look for “consultar boletas emitidas”)
• Copy of the last annual tax declaration. I actually have not yet done an annual declaration because I started using
boletas in January, right after the previous year and tax period ended. For this reason I couldn’t include this information. On the phone extranjeria confirmed that this situation is OK and you need to include a note explaining the reason why you cannot include this form. (Again, I did this upon their suggestion, but the follow up letter again mentioned sending in myboletas from the previous year so I am wondering if maybe I didn’t do it right. The first time I inserted a blank paper with a paragraph about this, the second time when I resent it I printed an extra copy of my Business Initiation Certificate, circled the start date in January, and handwrote a comment)
2. For
professional o tecnico que tiene contrato de trabajo (For a hired professional or technician). (From how I understood the form, this should not apply to me because I am a freelance professional and instead followed the steps in #1) It asks for your work contract and certificates of your health insurance and pension funds showing payment for the past 12 months.

Don’t forget to download and fill out the application form. Beward that the English and Spanish versions are slightly different.

I sent my papers by
Correos Chile (just under $2,000 pesos and supposedly overnight) and it was registered by Extranjeria 9 days later. On that day a letter was sent out asking me for 3 more things within 30 days. The letter arrived at my house after 2 weeks, leaving me only about 15 days to return these forms:
• “
Certificado del empleador accredit vigencia contrato legalizado ante notario y original” (Basically, a notarized certificate your boss writes up saying you still work for them, since when, etc... *I don’t know what etc. means so please do more research yourself if you need one of these. ) I was not expecting this, I’m not sure if its something originally requested that I missed or not. It also kind of surprises me because supposedly as a worker not “for hire” this seems kind of unnecessary. Luckily I am still with the company I applied for my temporary visa with. I don’t know what would happen if you are not under contract anywhere. About the certificate- I was misinformed the first time on the phone. The second time I was told this certificate needs to include start date, end date, and payment. A 3rd and 4th inquiry about this would be ideal as I’m not sure I have it right yet.
Boletas 2008/2009 On the phone they confirmed they want ALL of my boletas.
• Pay $42.574 pesos at any bank and mail 2 of the stubs (it says which is which on the side) to them with the extra information

Also included in the letter was one copy of my application form with an
“en tramite” stamp that can be used to prove that I am still legal under the same restrictions of my previous visa (temporary residence) meaning I can work and carry out other activities, enter and exit the country, etc… If for some reason this letter takes too long to arrive and you need to leave the country beforehand, you can go to extranjeria before your trip to get this form or other proof in writing.

So that’s that! Seriously, start this process months before your visa expires.
Remember that information and requirements change, and I am not necessarily going to be able to reflect all those changes in this blogpost. If you are applying under different circumstances (i.e. through marriage, from a student visa, etc… the requirements are NOT the same)

If you have gone through this process (or a different one) and would like to comment, clarify something I might have misunderstood, or ask a question, or …vent, feel free!
Please be specific though if you are talking about different circumstances (using a different form so as not to confuse).


A Shark in Shallow Water said...

This information is pure gold.

I'm thinking of going for a second temp. visa next year and if I'm still here (hopefully not in Santiago)in 2011 then I'll go for a residency. By that time, I'll have built up a nice record of boletas to prove my earnings.

When applying for my temp. visa I legalised my CELTA cert. at the British Embassy and then took it to Agustinas. Neither process was particularly difficult but the bandits at the British Embassy relieved me of CHP$30,000!! That seemed to be enough. I didn't need to refer to my university qualifications.

One thing I discovered is that no, one person actually knows what the procedure and requirements are. I think you've proved this by your difference in Spanish/English analogy.

To throw in my two cents, when I applied for my temp. visa the application was originally rejected. This was quite prompt. They returned all my documents and a letter of explanation by registered mail.

I am not not lying when I tell you this. The letter started off by saying (I'm translating and paraphrasing here):
This application has been rejected for the following reason(s):

Document missing

That was it. They didn't say what document they meant. I double checked the list (in Spanish). I phoned them.
'Oh, yes. There was a document missing, sir'.
Okay, what?
'My screen doesn't say'

Anyway, I don't know where the idea came from but I reapplied with exactly the same paperwork but with the addition of a notarised
offer of work letter.

I like how you can check your process online.

lydia said...

Nobody in Chile has ever asked me to see my teaching certificate at all.
I didn't have to get my degree legalized for temporary residence. Nobody asked for it, it either wasn't on my form or I overlooked it, and nobody mentioned that I didn't have it. I don't know why not, because looking back now the form says its necessary.

I worry that they wouldn't be so lenient for permanent residency.

You know, I was kind of happy that I could check my process online, but, at least in my case, it doesnt tell me anything I didn't already know. It always says its processing.

It is completely possible I will be rejected, this post isnt necessarily the recipe to get accepted, just how I found my way about gathering all the stuff.

Thats a good paraphrase, haha: no one person actually knows what the procedure and requirements are.
Neither do I so I hope people use this as supplementary and don't just take my word for it!
(So true. I always tell the story about 2 years ago I had a potential HUGE problem and wanted to make sure I sorted things out so I called 7 Chilean consulates in the US with a question and got 4 yesses and 3 nos!) I think different people often interpret these things very differently.

Marmo said...

Supongo que lo saben, pero si no, es algo importante. Cuando emiten boletas y les retienen el 10%, ese impuesto está sujeto a una posible devolución al término del periodo tributario (en abril de cada año). Si les devuelven el impuesto, se genera un cheque a nombre de ustedes con el valor devuelto, que no es nada despreciable. Probablemente ya lo saben, pero, sólo por si acaso...

Maeskizzle said...

So glad I don't have to do this process. I was about to when V's immigrant visa was approved.

And I was going to do it through marriage which is a little different, but is free ;)

Turns out I don't even need to get another temporary visa ;) Mine expires in Jan and we are leaving the beginning or March so at the Extranjería they told me to get an extension in Jan the week before my temporary visa expires. Yay!

And, yes, when I used to do visa paperwork in Valpo, the International Police office there never had anyone in it. I never had to wait. Whereas here in Santiago, there are always 50-100 people waiting.

Sara said...

I was reading through it and it looks like you currently need a job and proof of income, but someone told me that becuase I have the temporary residency I could apply for permanent residency without all that. Do you know?

Alessandra said...

Did you need more than this for the temporary visa (for 1 year)?
How long did it take? I hope to hand in the paperwork early May and move down mid/late June 2010. Do I need to have bought my ticket before or after I get the visa?

*as you said it's different for every case, but just as a starting point*

Valid passport (Valid at least for the term of the visa)

Health certificate issued by medical doctor stating that applicant is in good health and has no contagious diseases. Also, the applicant must present certificate of Blood Test HIV issued by a Health Department, Laboratory, or private physician.

Police certificate issued by the FBI, stating that the applicant has no records.

Three recent passport photographs (2" x 2")

Proof of financial solvency must be presented. (Bank and commercial records, etc).

In the event the applicant is married to a Chilean national, proof of marriage must be presented.

This visa is valid for one year, renewable in Chile and allows the applicant to work.

Fees varies according with applicant's nationality.
The cost for US national is US$ 400.-

lydia said...

marmo- si, pero todavia no se exactamente como hacerlo. pero me han contado que el proceso es muuucho mas facil que en los eeuu!

maeskizzle- hey congrats! i didn't know

sara- well the form shows pretty specifically that you need to prove income. however to me, the form does not look like you need to have a job... but then they wrote back to me requesting that I prove I have a job... so perhaps it is indeed necessary.
the temporary residence application was very different than the permanent residence application, and all information that was repeated they asked for again anyway.

lydia said...

Alessandra- no, you need somewhat less information and forms for the temporary visa.

if you are applying in chile,
the definite permanence is supposed to take around 6 months (possibly longer it seems)
the temporary visa varies from what i've heard. mine took 2 months. I have no idea how long it takes if you are applying in the US.

if you are applying in the US i would expect the process to be a little different, they possibly ask for entirely different forms and such (for instance, you wouldnt have a "tourism card" which they give you upon entrance to Chile and they ask for in the in-Chile temporary visa application.) I am assuming those things you posted are some of the requirements you found online.

If you are from the US, there are other differences too, for instance the temporary visa is free if you apply while in Chile, but costs a couple hundred dollars to apply through the consulates in the US.

As far as I know, there are no restrictions on when you can buy your ticket, however there are restrictions (often enforced by the airlines but not so much by Chilean customs) that you would need your visa OR proof of return/onward travel if you enter as a tourist.

Sorry I don't know too much about your case of applying in the US, though I would recommend, just knowing how these things go, that you apply as early as possible or makes sense.

Good luck!

Maeskizzle said...

Alessandra - Unless you have a reason to get the visa in the States (like if you'll start working with a formal contract here upon arrival), I would recommend getting it here in Chile. Because, the two co-workers of a friend of mine in Chile got their work visas in the States, and they had to pay the $400 dollar fee or whatever it is. Plus they had to go to the respective Chilean consulates in California and Boston - and that meant traveling from Colorado to California one of the guys. So his visa ended up costing closer to $800-$1000 I imagine.

If you get the temporary visa in Chile, you will have to pay for your tourist visa upon passing through immigration in the Santiago airport (which last I heard cost $131). But the temporary visa is free
according to immigration, anyway.

Good luck!

Matt said...

Ok, to avoid all the pain, hassle and waste of time, pay thegestor I know 70,000 pesos and get everything done for you by someone who knows what he's doing. Seriously, it's worth every penny. Every time someone writes about immigration I suggest the same thing and someone always replies 'why should i pay for something you can get done for free?'. My answer, 'it depends what monetary value you put on your time and stress avoidance.' Personally, I think 70k is worth it to not have to deal with extranjeria ever apart from when they stamp your passport.

Anyway, my permanent residency application went through without a hitch, ningun reparo from extranjeria (and they're pretty tough on investment visas so i was surprised). They're taking up to 9 months to actually complete the process at the moment though, which is a pain in the arse- having to carry the visa en tramite A4 piece of paper everywhere and explain to every single person that it has the same validity as the cedula is pretty annoying.

You send in the application for permanent residency up to 90 days in advance and it's well worth doing so if you can.

Alessandra said...

Matt- What's the deal with the gestor? Is that something I would do once I got to Chile? When I came on a student visa last year I paid the $131 entrance fee (which is good for the life of the passport). So can I just come in on a tourist visa for free, get my situation set up (job and depto) then get this gestor to help me with the rest? If that's the case, it's DEFINITELY worth the 70,000 pesos! If you could email me his contact info that would be fantastic:

Thanks for all of your help guys! I'll post when I get into the process!