Will Marry for Visa – Chile

Will Marry For Visa - Chile

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Will Marry for Visa in Chile

I’ve been in Chile for only two months and I’m still working out my visa situation.

From my experiences of visiting and living in other countries your type and cost of visa depends entirely on the mood of the immigration official dealing with your case.
If they’re in a good mood, great! Your visa is free, it will take 1 working day and they’ll even throw a ‘Welcome to the Country’ party for you.
If they’re in a bad mood, then watch out. Your visa is extremely expensive, it will take six months to process and to apply you need to supply your birth certificate, your fingerprint, your biometric eye scan, your parents’ name and details, your inner leg measurement, the details of your first girlfriend, details of what you had for dinner three years ago… the list of irrelevant and meaningless requirements is endless.

Unfortunately the immigration official dealing with my case was in an extremely bad mood and apparently despises people from England. My visa will take six months to process (honestly, am I to believe that to put a simple stamp in my passport will take six months of work?) but the best point is that I will be charged the extortionate fee of… $224,612 Chilean pesos (US$500)!

And what does this fee buy me? A fast and efficient visa service? No, it will take six months to process, I have to visit most of the ministries in the Chilean government to get the paperwork and no one will speak English or even attempt to understand my broken Spanish.
Do I get a personal slave to serve me for my entire time in Chile? Nope.
Do I get a tax exemption from my earnings? Of course not, not only do I have to pay to be able to work but I have to pay to receive the earnings from that work.

So what do I get for my $224,612 pesos? Ummm… well… aaahhh… …a stamp in my passport (in six months time).

This morning I spent over four hours waiting, crying, begging, imploring, cursing, pacing and praying at the Department of Extrajeria in Santiago. I went from person to person desperately pleading for any possible option that would mean I don’t have to pay so much.

Can I stay on a tourist visa?

Can I get a six month work visa?
Yes, but it will cost the same.

Can I donate an organ to a homeless person?
Yes, but it won’t make a difference.

Can I just pay you 24 000 and not expect a receipt (wink wink, nudge nudge)?
No, and if you mention or even think about that again then we will arrest you, brand you ‘an Enemy of Chile’ and dump you naked and beaten on the Argentinean side of the border.

Then one bright spark came up with an idea: I can get married to a Chilean to get a free work permit to later apply for residency.

So here goes:

English guy with brown hair, brown eyes, GSOH seeks Chilean woman for immediate marriage.
Must have full residency in Chile.

Any takers?

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31 Responses to “Will Marry for Visa – Chile”

  1. Emily in Chile August 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    I know this is written in a humorous way, but I have to say I’m a little offended for the Chilean bureaucrats (yes, I’m as shocked as you are!). I think Chile is a pretty honest place in terms of things taking how long they take and having any variances be based on luck rather than the mood of the person helping you or bribes. I also don’t understand why “they don’t speak English” is a complaint – learn Spanish or hire a translator. I doubt the English visa application people speak the language of every applicant. And yes, it’s expensive, which I know because I’m here on my British passport, but visas are expensive in many countries.

    Like I said, I know this was jokey, and maybe I’m just boring for not laughing, but as someone from the US where the visa process really is hell for foreigners, I try not to complain to much about Chile’s relatively simple, open and inexpensive system.

    • Rob W. August 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

      You are right there Emily, in Chile the “bad mood” thing doesn’t happen (well, not as much) as in many other South American countries and the same rules apply to most whether the bureaucrat is having a bad hair day or not. (They’ll always ask for the x-rays of your grandmother’s false teeth etc)

      And just like you, something that bugs me is how some people expect locals (in this case Chileans) to speak their language and if they don’t get it the first time, they speak louder. Yes, stereotypically looking at certain nationalities, though no, it’s not normally the English.

      Something that I have already admired is how the Chilean cops should NOT be bribed though I think he was just joking about that.

      Out of curiosity, are Brits charged more for Visas in Chile or is it only based upon salary, the same for everyone?

      • Emily in Chile August 26, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

        This table shows the cost for all visas, although it says 2009, so I’m not sure if these prices are still correct: http://www.extranjeria.gov.cl/filesapp/Valores%20Visas%202009.pdf. For some reason UK citizens are charged the most (I’d imagine because the UK charges Chileans high visa fees, although I don’t know that), although the visa sujeto a contrato was less expensive back when I got it, thank god!

        I should’ve come on my US passport this time since those visas are free, but a) I didn’t know that at the time and b) I’d been here on my UK passport as a student since the student visa was cheaper that way, and I didn’t know if Chile could cope with dual nationalities or would think I was two different people (I’ve since been assured by someone at Extranjeria that it wouldn’t have been a problem, but you never know).

        • Rob W. August 26, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

          I came in on my UK passport too instead of my NZ one because waaaaaaaaaay back then, NZ passports needed a visa.
          I have never had a work visa, I got residency in a one-off immigrant amnesty thing about 12 or so years ago. From memory they were trying to clean up the illegal Peruvian overstayers and I was in the right place at the right time.

  2. Jonathan Evans August 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    I think the problem here is that coming from the UK, we are spoilt somewhat by the relative lack of bureaucracy in our lives, even compared to the rest of Europe. I’ve lived in France and Switzerland and in both places regularly came across lengthy and tedious bureaucracy for all sorts of different things.

    Now I’m living in Argentina (can’t speak for Chile I’m afraid) and there is a ridiculous amount of bureaucracy here, especially for residency for expats. The problem is that we get all self-righteous because we *know* this is just a huge waste of time, only meant to line corrupt official’s pockets and keep the supervisor’s daughter and friends in a job.

    The thing is, this is way the country works. Everyone may agree it’s ridiculous, but for better or worse, it’s what there is, and as we are here of our own will in the first place, then you just have to suck it up and accept it graciously.

    • Rob W. August 26, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

      I have heard that corruption is rife in Argentina even having to bribe the cops there at times (which defeats their purpose and really sucks).
      From my own experience I have never had to bribe anyone here in Chile (just my kids) though it DOES help knowing the right people (having Pitutos) to speed up certain processes.
      That IS more common.

  3. Angie August 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    I can relate to your frustration. I’m in the process of getting a temp residency visa right now and having to jump through hoops upon hoops. This has been a very frustrating process, but every time I think about how annoying it is, I remember that my Chilean counterparts can’t even step foot into the US on vacation without proof of long term contract employment (so independent contractors are not welcome basically). Many of my friends work as independent contractors for their own individual enterprises so they can’t even come to visit me on a vacation to see freaking disneyland, let alone stay in the US for a while!

    The whole immigration process is a bureaucratic mess on all sides.

    I think if you want to marry a Chilean, at least that won’t be too difficult!

    Good luck with your visa!

    • Rob W. August 26, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

      I think you would have more fun pulling off your own toenails with a couple of spoons than trying to get any type of visa for the US.
      AND if you do get there, those rubber gloves are daunting.

      When I got married I found the “bureaucracy” of the Chilean Civil Registry actually quite simple.
      It was the church that was a lot more problematic, wanting documents from NZ.

  4. Matt August 26, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Extranjeria is a nightmare but cough up $100 mil and you don’t have to deal with it. I spent a total of 12 minutes in extranjeria & policia Internacional when going through permanent residency application & got my visa in 3 months. Well worth the small cost of my gestor. I don’t know why people who can afford this go through the nightmare on their own- such a waste of time.

    I got my residency in Argentina a few years ago through an amnesty for Chinese immigrants. Still had to pay a bribe though.

    (as an aside, my iPhone autocorrects extranjeria as ‘extra jerks’. Apt.)

    • Rob W. August 27, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

      my iPhone autocorrects extranjeria as ‘extra jerks’.

      That’s so funny!

      I suppose if you can afford it, you might as well. But would it be hard for someone new to Chile to find someone to do that type of thing?
      I only have to renew my residency (or more like my carnet) every 5 years. I had to do it the other month and I didn’t seem to take me that long at extranjería. I took some paper to scribble notes and ideas to bide the time so it wasn’t a problem.
      So there must have been a Chinese immigrant problem in Argentina, interesting.

  5. Sarah Doherty August 26, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    I read this post earlier this afternoon and thought it was slightly funny. I was lucky on my Visa end because of a few reasons: (1) my company is small and my bosses were quite happy to help me out and give me the Visa I needed even if it meant multiple trips to the notaria for them and (2) I was lucky enough to find a job pretty much immediately after coming into Chile.

    The process didn’t take that long and right now I am with my 2 year temporary residency visa, but I wouldn’t in a million years want to go through that process again. Too many trips to to too many different places.

    I do realize I’m lucky and I know there are a lot of people that it takes awhile to setup here – I suppose marriage (for Visa) sounds like a good alternative!

    • Rob W. August 27, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

      I think that now most companies have no problem to give out the contracts to get the visas and if the company can pay for it, even better. I think the problem is the waiting in multiple lines for hours just for some random paper that gets people and it’s not the boss that has to do that.
      After you get the final residency visa it’s all plain sailing and you just have to renew your carnet every 5 years. (Though in order to renew you have to prove you still have your residency.)

      Even though I’m sure he was only joking, would getting married actually lighten the writer’s load and make it easier for him?
      I personally wouldn’t have a clue since I already had my residency before I got married.

  6. Annje August 27, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    Haha all I can say is that immigration sucks everywhere–too many required papers, takes too long, etc. I went though it with my husband in the US, my home country and now here I get to do it… again. I have heard that the UK is implementing a new immigration law where even for spouses of citizens they will make you take an English test. So they don’t speak to you in English here in Chile (I am assuming that complaint was tongue in cheek) but at least you don’t have to take a Spanish test!!!

    • nico August 30, 2011 at 9:26 am #

      Marriage for visa… i’ve met quite a few of these: argentino marries española to stay in Europe; Brit marries American to live the dream; and quite a few Gringo marries Chilena to “save the relationship” and bring her back to the states… but there’s only one man, one Chileno that married a Boliviana for the papeles. Read it here: The watchyman part 1

      • Rob W. August 30, 2011 at 11:18 am #

        I loved the name Watchyman. Interesting character you mention.

    • Rob W. September 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

      (I imagine he wrote it tongue in check)
      I personally think that people coming this way should at least try to communicate in the local language (Spanish) no matter how bad it may seem.
      No matter where I go I always (try and) learn the basics of hello, goodbye, thank you, please and have rudimentary phrases (and words) written to support the lexical mess I am sure to produce.
      If they don’t understand me and they don’t speak English (or Spanish), you live with it and find another way to express what you want (doodles can be great and also help break the atmosphere).
      I think that people that just get annoyed about the locals not speaking their language are just ignorant and should stay at home.

      It will be interesting to see what happens with that new law you mention.

  7. Clare September 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    Sorry, but one thing about this post is completely true: it is RIDICULOUSLY expensive for Brits to get work visas in Chile without marrying a Chilean. The amount you posted in the blog is roughly half the price of the cheapest version that was available to me.

    I was told it was due to ‘reciprocity’ – possibly true, but I’m fairly confident that Chileans have to pay a lot to work in many other countries around the world, and yet Brits have to pay vastly more than any of them. Literally, ANY of them. Check out the fee sheet on the Extrajeria website.

    Next rant: getting a bank account as a foreigner. Oh. My. God.

    • Rob W. September 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

      Hi Clare,
      I think it will always be a reciprocity thing and Chile probably has every right to do it saying… hey don’t pick on us in Chile just because we’re in a place called South America.
      I’m just glad as a Kiwi that the NZ government isn’t so tough with its visas and hates treats everyone more or less the same.

      So have you seen what I wrote here? Opening a Bank account in Chile.

  8. Alejandra September 12, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    I’m sorry about our “burrocracia” :-/
    This might not make you feel any better, but it took a good friend of mine at least 4 months to process her work visa before going to England, and she met and probably exceeded each and every requirement to get it, plus a German b/f residing in the UK for 3 years who had filed dozens of papers for the British government to rest assured that she would not misbehave or become a burden in any possible way… Just like with your organs offered for donation, it made no difference!
    I hope you got your Visa in the end. You can always cross the border and spend a weekend in the nearest city in Argentina and come back with a fresh tourist visa :-)
    If you are seriously considering marriage for a visa, let me know… Just kidding!

  9. Kate Morton October 19, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Aaaaaaaargh, going through the same thing, trying to decide which visa to go for, I nearly cried when I saw the website, why is it soooooooo expensive for Brits all of a sudden?

    • Rob W. October 20, 2011 at 9:39 am #

      “Going through the same thing…”
      What’s that, the marriage proposal thing? 😉 kidding.
      It’s most likely a reciprocal thing where it is expensive for Chileans to apply for UK visas. Chile is good at that type of revenge.

  10. UKVisa October 26, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    So have you ever tried to apply for a UK visa ? I paid over 300 GBP to apply for a UK visa and had to provide all the details you mentioned above :-) and try applying for a US visa :-)

    • UKVisa October 26, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

      This should give you an idea of what UK charges … by any measure it ain’t cheap!

    • Rob W. October 26, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

      That’s a lot, basically the stance by the government is… what goes around comes around.
      No wonder there are so many marriages for visas. And yes, we won’t even go into the US visa show.

  11. Camila January 9, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    Hi Rob, I am Chilean and as a law student I can rell you that our resident visas are not based on marriage so I don’t think marrying a Chilean girl will help.
    I do agree with you that we have a great deal of unnecessary bureaucracy here in Chile and I believe that is a common trait in many (if not all) Latin American countries. Here’s a funny example: articles.latimes.com/2009/jan/02/world/fg-mexico-redtape2.
    I’ve experienced bureacuracy in so many different occasions and it is very frustrating, but think it’s difficult to change it since it’s so rooted in our culture. I thought bureaucracy was normal until I visited my boiyfriend in the USA and I was in in awe with how efficient things were there.
    Good luck with your visa,

    • Rob W. January 9, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

      Hi Camila,
      Don’t worry, the visa is not for me. I have been married for 10 years and had residency before that. :)
      This was written by an Englishman I knew and since he didn’t want his name published, I posted it for him.
      The link to the LA Times article was interesting. At least in Chile they don’t expect or accept bribes as they do in Mexico … well, from what I understand.
      Good luck with your studies.

  12. Matt G March 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    Well funnily enough the women in the visa office in Santiago, Chile, told me the exact same thing above, being with my girlfriend who already has residency in Chile (but is not Chilean), she asked, you think you will marry in future, if so, you better just marry now. It will be a lot easier. 😛

    • Rob W. March 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

      Really? That’s funny, especially considering your girlfriend isn’t Chilean. I didn’t know it was also valid if your partner already has residency. Interesting.
      So now … to marry, or not to marry… that is the question. :)

  13. Miluska April 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    Hi Rob,

    If your friend is still available for marriage, I have a friend who can get married for residence purposes. She can speak English and have experience on paperwork at Migration Office and she has Chilean Passport.

    • Rob W. April 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

      He was just kidding, making fun of how difficult the process was for him. Thanks for the offer though. :)

      • Miluska April 6, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

        oki, :-(

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