Haitians and Venezuelans seeking to migrate to Chile now face tougher rules

Migrating to Chile is about to get tougher for Haitians.

Starting April 16, Haitians seeking to get into Chile will now need to request a visa from the Chilean consulate in Port-au-Prince, the South American country’s government announced Monday.

The tightened immigration rule is part of a series of immigration measures introduced by new President Sebastian Piñera, who also introduced new visa requirements for Venezuelans seeking to migrate.

Under the so-called Democratic Responsibility Visa, Venezuelans seeking to flee their country’s worsening political crisis will be able to apply for temporary residence in Chile for a year. But instead of making the request in Chile, Venezuelans will have to do so at home. As to whether it will make it easier or harder for them to emigrate, it all depends on how restrictive the Chilean consulate is.

The new measure will stop Venezuelans from traveling without passports — which have become exceedingly hard to obtain in Venezuela.

Until now, Venezuelans — like Haitians — have been able to travel to Chile and adjust their status once they are in the country by applying for a work visa, a cumbersome process that required a work contract and Chilean ID.

And for Haitian migrants, the new measures mean they will be restricted to a 30-day tourist visa. Those seeking to reside in Chile will have to apply for one of 10,000 humanitarian visas that will be set aside annually for family members or Haitian nationals with at least 24 years of schooling.

“I’ve been receiving calls all day from Haitians saying they already bought tickets to travel for May and the end of April. They should go and get their money back from agents because they won’t be allowed to enter,” said Yvenet Dorsainvil, a Haitian migrant and activist with Chile’s National Coordinator of Immigrants.

Dorsainvil said he fears the new measures for Haitians will only exacerbate the illegal flow of people crossing by land from a neighboring country. Until now, Haitians have mostly traveled to Chile by air, knowing they could eventually get papers allowing them to stay.

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