So it’s no secret that we were in Chile for the past 4 months with me working with a company there. We took the opportunity to travel around Chile and Colombia during that time too! This post is about how I got my one year work visa for Chile in New Delhi, India. There is another article about tourist visas for Indians to visit Chile.
There are several people who apply from India for Startup Chile, a startup incubator based in Chile and this post should also address some of their concerns regarding police clearance, medical certificates, etc. The process for Startup Chile folks however is a little different as the visa category is different.
To start off, I must say that the procedure was pretty straightforward at my end. The company in Chile however needed to prepare some documents in original and then send them to me in India. The documents that were required were:
- Original work contract in Spanish and English, notarized and authenticated by the ministry of foreign affairs in Chile.
- A letter addressed to the Consul of Chile in New Delhi requesting that they process my work visa
- Tax statements of the company, other documents that prove that the company is a legitimate business operating out of Chile.
- Any other documents that a lawyer in Chile might say are necessary.
From my side, once I received all the above documents via DHL, the process was pretty simple. I had to apply for the work visa online filling in all the details requested. You can start the application at this website. You can select English as your language choice at the top.
You need to upload scanned copies of all your documents when you apply online. This means that you must have all the required documents when you start the online visa process. In my case, I was applying for a Subject to Contract visa, hence the documents required (for me to scan and upload) were:
- The work contract (notarized, in Spanish)
- The letter to the consul
- My engineering degree
- My passport biodata page copy
- 4 passport size photographs
- Police Clearance Certificate
- Medical Certificate
Note about the Police Certificate:
In India there are many types of Police Certificates. The Chilean consulate doesn’t really care about which type of certificate you get. Any type is fine for them.
The quickest police certificate you can get in New Delhi is one where they do not carry out an address verification for you. This is often called a “Police Verification Certificate” and takes 15 days to get. Normally people get this when they are applying for jobs within India. The Chilean consulate accepted this in my case and the lady over the phone categorically said “We just need a letter from the police saying that you aren’t in any trouble”.
The other type you can get is a Police Clearance Certificate from the passport office. This takes up to 21 days as an address verification may be carried out if your passport address has changed or was verified many years ago. Otherwise, this is the quickest way to get a PCC because if your passport related police verification was done recently, then the passport office will issue the PCC immediately. This PCC will say something along the lines of you having a clear police record and the government not having any objection to you moving to Chile.
The final type of Police Certificate is one that you get from the police station but also includes an address verification. Basically, it’s the same procedure as the passport office but you apply for it at the X (Special Branch) of your local police station. This can also take 15-30 days but if you egg them on, it can happen faster. This certificate will look a lot like the Police Clearance Certificate issued by the passport office.
Note about the medical certificate:
There have been many reports of people (especially Startup Chile folks..) getting a whole panel of tests done for the Chilean visa. This is totally unnecessary. When I spoke to the Chilean consulate over the phone, I was clearly advised that all they need is a medical fitness certificate. Basically something that says I am not sick and I am able to do my job. No AIDS test, blood tests, TB tests, etc. required.
I went to a doctor at a local hospital and asked him for a medical certificate. He took my temperature and blood pressure and then asked me if anything else was required. I said No. So he gave me a certificate that literally said I was free from any disease that would prevent me from working as a programmer.
This was good enough for the work visa.
Once the documents are uploaded and you click Apply, they will get in touch with you with an interview date. On this date you basically have to visit the consulate to meet the Consul for an interview along with all your documents. The interview date they gave me was about a week away but I emailed them and requested one closer to the date of application and they agreed. Thus, I went in for an interview 2 days after I applied online.
The Chilean consulate in New Delhi is quite helpful and I had an easy time dealing with them. They usually do answer the phone (very uncommon for a consulate ;)) and also reply to emails.
I reached the Consulate on the date of my interview. The Chilean consulate is in Vasant Vihar, as you take a right turn towards the Priya Complex off the outer ring road, the consulate is on the immediate left turn (basically right next to Guru Harkishan Public School). This is worth mentioning because I drove around quite a bit looking for the consulate (there is a board on the main street saying Consulate of Chile, but alas it has no arrow and is on the wrong side of the street! – UPDATE: There is now an arrow on this board!). This is EXACTLY where the Consulate is. After reaching the consulate, I had to make a trip to the ICICI bank in Basant Lok to pay the visa fees as well as the notarization fees for my work contract. (basically the consulate will put another stamp on the work contract, Chile loves stamps!)
After paying at the bank, I went back to the Consulate.
I went in for my interview with the Consul. He was a pretty friendly guy and at first looked at my contract and asked me what I was supposed to be doing in Chile. I started explaining the details of the role to him and that was enough for him. He asked me if I had my degree with me and I said yes, and took it out, but he barely glanced at it. Then he said “Okay, this is all good, we’ll send this off to Santiago for approval”. What?
So, apparently, the consulate collects all the documents, does the interview, but then asks the External Affairs ministry in Santiago for final approval. For this reason, the consul said that the work visa process can take 1-4 weeks, depending on when Santiago replies.
Way to go uncertainty! So now, I had to wait. Luckily, and this has been my experience with Chilean bureaucracy ever since, they are quite efficient. Santiago’s reply was back with an approval in 4 working days. They did make a call in Santiago to my company to make sure they were legit, but right after the call, they sent the OK signal to the consulate. The consulate DOES NOT snail mail/courier your documents back to Santiago. Thankfully, in this day and age I believe they use email.
Also, the online system where you applied earlier also doubles up as a tracking system which says things like “Application sent to Santiago”, “Application being reviewed in Santiago”, “Application approved by Santiago”, “Visa being printed”, etc., so you can frantically refresh it 16 times a day to see if your visa is ready :)
Now, the consulate’s visa printer was apparently broken, and they said it would take 2-3 days to fix. So I had to wait an extra 3 days for my visa to be printed. However, once it was done, it was all really done!
We booked our flights to Chile and took off in 2 days for an adventure on the other side of the world!
Once in Chile:
There are a few things that have to be done once you reach Chile. At the airport, when you arrive, you have to fill in an arrival card. The immigration will stamp this card and you need to keep it safe.
After this, I had to start the process of getting a RUN, also commonly called a RUT. A RUN is a national ID number in Chile that doubles up as a tax number and is also used for… pretty much everything. The process to get it is straightforward and you will need to do this as soon as possible because it is required for EVERYTHING (bank accounts, loyalty cards, telephone/internet connections, rental contracts, etc.).
The first step is to go to the PDI which is the police department that deals with immigration matters. Once there, you need to register your presence. There is a queue but it moves pretty fast. At the end of it, they will give you a document with your picture, your address and a stamp on it which means that you have registered with the police.
Once this was done, I went to the Civil Registry. The civil registry will accept your application for a RUN. When we went it was close to closing time and there was no queue at all. The lady took prints of all ten of my fingers and everyone was very friendly and helpful. At the end, she gave me a slip that showed me my RUN and an application number. She said it would take up to 28 days to get my physical ID card.
There’s an online tracking system for this too although reportedly it is down at times. After 15 days the online tracking said my RUN card was ready for collection so I went to the Civil Registry again to pick it up. I stood in line and picked it up, had to sign a register but that was it.
And that’s all there was to it! :)