U.S. citizens may enter Chile without a visa and remain in the country as a tourist for a maximum of 90 days per trip. If you wish to stay for longer than 90 days, you need to seek permission to remain in the country.
Chile offers one of the easiest residencies you’ll find; you can even apply by mail and no background check is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens.
It’s one of several countries where you need to hold a temporary residency first, before applying for permanent residency. The temporary residency visas are fairly easy to obtain because in the long run, their main purpose is to establish your track record before applying for permanent residency.
A temporary resident visa is issued for a period of one year, and it can only be renewed one time. (You can’t have been out of the country for more than 180 days.) After this two-year period, you must become a permanent resident or hit the road.
Chile offers two visas that are commonly used by expats:
Jubilados y rentistas
This visa is for retirees (jubilados) and those with income from abroad (rentistas). There is no specified requirement for income, although you must show that you can support yourself while in Chile.
Inversionistas y comerciantes
This visa is for investors, business people, and entrepreneurs. There are two sets of requirements: one for businesses that are still in the idea stage and the other for businesses that are up and running.
Visa-holders may work in Chile, although there will be specific registration requirements if you work in a regulated profession, such as a doctor, professional engineer, teacher, etc.
Dependents may come with the visa-holder if they are part of his or her immediate family, but they may not work for wages.
Both residency and tax obligations can be complex issues in Chile. Some of the rules are very detailed, with many exceptions. If you’re serious about living full- or part-time in Chile, you should consult a Chilean tax and immigration specialist; in the long run, it will be time and money well spent. And, be patient, especially with immigration issues. Chile has the advantage of being an honest rather than a corrupt country, but the down side is that the wheels of bureaucracy often move slowly.
Residency in Chile can lead to a second passport and dual citizenship.