Chile unveils lenient Tech Visa as U.S. puts limits on immigration

SANTIAGO – As the US Citizenship and Immigration Services department pursues limitations on the H-1B visa program favoured by tech companies, Chile is forging ahead with a different strategy, making it easier and more attractive for foreigners to start or work for a tech company in Chile.

This week, Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet announced the launch of Tech Visa, which trims down the visa approval process to just 15 days.

This new tech visa is targeted towards founders and investors in tech businesses that are based or looking to set up a base in Chile, as well as science and technology professionals who are looking to work for a tech business based in the country.

Entrepreneurs who are selected for Startup Chile’s accelerator programs or one of its three lines of financing will also be able to acquire a visa within 15 days of application.

Bachelet wants to create a “virtuous cycle where everyone wins”.

Since its inception, more than 1,300 startups have received equity-free grants of up to 60 million pesos, 12-month work visas, a bank account, and office space. Startup Chile claims on its website that more than 51 percent of these startups are still active, and are collectively valued at about $1.4 billion.