Immigration in Chile: job search and obtaining a residence permit

Hello everyone, my name is Nadezhda, and in this article I will tell you how my husband and I moved to live from St. Petersburg in Chile. Compared to moving to conditional Europe (they found a job - they submitted documents - they moved), this story looks more like an adventure and you will be interested to read it.

1. Why Chile?

Chile is not the most popular destination for immigration, so few people know that here:
  • Open migration policy. Citizens of the Russian Federation are issued a tourist visa for 90 days. If you have found a job during this time, you can get a temporary residence permit for one year (visa temporaria). After a temporary give unlimited residence permit (permanecia definitiva) and five years later citizenship. Chilean passport - an all-terrain vehicle, gives the right to visa-free entry to many countries including all of Europe and the United States.
  • The most developed economy in South America.
  • The Mediterranean climate, compared to which night-street-lantern-pharmacy from November to March, significantly lose.

It just so happened that in October 2015, we, frontend developer and QA engineer bought one-way tickets and set off to conquer a new continent.

2. Flight

We did not find a direct budget flight from St. Petersburg, so we flew to Buenos Aires via Dubai (90,000 rubles for two in one way). From there they took bus tickets to Santiago (it takes almost a day, 200 USD for two). At Buenos Aires airport, a tourist visa was spanked without looking, and high-high in the mountains, on the Chilean-Argentine border, too. An interesting thing is Chilean customs control. They control, in addition to weapons and drugs, food. Much cannot be imported in principle, but permitted products must be declared, for this they issue a special form. I had to hurry to eat chocolate in line for passport control.
In 2017, a direct flight appeared Santiago - Paris - St. Petersburg (18 hours, 3000 USD for two round-trip).

3. Housing search

And now, Santiago! The first step was to find housing. Having looked at the proposals and having estimated financial possibilities, we settled on the fact that for starters we will rent a room. Now I can’t say that it was a good decision, but at least we found an option in 3 days, moved from the hostel and felt like people. In general, renting in Chile is much more complicated than in Russia. There is a law that makes it difficult to evict a tenant if he has stopped paying. “Difficult” means that a person can only be evicted in court and not earlier than after a couple of years, having left the lawyers annual rental price. In general, the level of paranoia of landlords here is off the charts, and the law of the jungle turns into the fact that unshielded poneakhi pay for housing one and a half to two times more expensive. Because they don’t have any documents, and their ears, paws and a certified diploma do not. We, например, в 2015 году платили за маленькую комнату 470 USD (280,000 CLP), а сейчас платим 545 USD (320,000 CLP) за целую квартиру вместе с коммуналкой.

However, according to rumors, more offers are now appearing, for example, our friend rented a furnished apartment in 2017 for the same 300,000 CLP. This, of course, pleases.

Housing search services: - furnished apartments from agencies for 3-4 months, a good option for foreigners - rooms, long-term hostel
offers - furnished and unfurnished apartments , mostly agencies, but there are also owners of - mostly unfurnished apartments for a long period of time (from a year), as a rule, for removal you need to have a residence permit and documents confirming income (for example, a work contract)
View from the window

4. Job Search

As I wrote above, we were going to get a residence permit by finding a job with a Chilean employer.
A few words about qualifications - I graduated from LETI in 2009. Since 2005 I have been testing, I started with manual, then automated. The husband graduated from St. Petersburg Polytech in the same 2009, and wrote for a long time on Flex. To find work in Chile, he learned JavaScript. Both of them spoke English, and Spanish in the first place was at the level of "understand yours." Now, of course, pumped.

Next, I will describe my search in more detail, but about my husband I will only say that in the end everything turned out well with him.

Unlike Russia, there is no single job search portal similar to hh in Chile. There are several main sites, resume formats are slightly different and you have to copy a lot. I had two options for CV - in English and Spanish. I placed them where I could and responded to all the vacancies that seemed suitable to me. About a week later (cosmic by local standards), three answered me. One of the respondents asked if I had permission to work and after an honest answer that no, disappeared from the horizon and did not answer letters. The second office turned out to be a Chilean testing outsourcer, and they took me there, but I preferred the third option - a branch of the American credit bureau, where I still work.

Job Search Sites: - almost exclusively for programmers, my husband found a job there - a general public resource, I found a job there - another general public resource

5. Interviews

I’ll tell you more about the interviews. All of them were full-time, such a bonus of unauthorized relocation.

Chilean company - outsourcer

I got a call and was invited to the office to talk. I managed to explain myself, agreed and came. The technical director talked with me and asked about what I did in my past work, but I started, of course, with the question “why Chile?” and is it true that in Russia it snows all the time. We only spoke in Spanish, and, nevertheless, they sent me a test task, and then they invited me for a second interview.

The test task was very simple, for compiling test cases, and there were nothing more complicated than the equivalence classes, so I felt damn overqualified.

The second interview turned out to be "psychological." This is such a special Chilean entertainment - to send all applicants to a special psicólogo laboral ("working" psychologist). There I interpreted color spots, painted a person in the rain and explained how people in the pictures feel. And also the senior psychologist was asking me if I had tried drugs, and finally asked me to write his name in Cyrillic. In general, they talked sincerely, even though the brain was completely boiled away.

A few days later they began to insistently call and call on a lawyer, as if to clarify my visa situation and sign the contract. I was somewhat amazed that they did not send the offer, but had to sign something, so I asked them four times to send the details to me in the mail, at least what salary they are ready to offer and where the office is located. Each time they promised to send everything, but instead they called again and asked them to come to the lawyer "vpryamchchaz", which made them very tired. Probably, the problem was aggravated by the fact that then I knew the language much worse, so I do not exclude the possibility that I simply misunderstood them. As a result, when they did manage to send me an offer, I already had a much more interesting offer from the credit bureau and refused.

Credit Bureau Branch

This is a branch of the North American credit bureau for about 600 people, half of which are the complaints processing department, and the rest are more or less IT specialists. Now I don’t remember whether they called me or first wrote to the post office, I just remember that all communication was in English. One way or another, they invited me to the first interview, where I talked with a woman from the personnel department about previous work. I suspect that they appreciated the level of English and the overall adequacy. They didn’t ask about bears about Russia, and thanks for that.

After a couple of days, I was scheduled for a second interview, technical. There I spoke with a lead and two embarrassing testers, and then I completed the test task. It was not bad, it took an hour to write code to test the function with the “file name” parameter, make several SQL queries and come up with cases to test an abstract application, of which only the database schema is known. In general, in comparison with the tasks from the first office, it is quite meaningful.

A few days later I was again invited to chat, already with the manager. It turned out to be a Colombian, so we, among other things, discussed the dignity of Chile as a country for immigration. There they asked me more about my character, strengths and weaknesses, what I was interested in doing and why I went to testers and not programmers. The dialogue was funny in places.

I: - I am introvert enough, it takes me a while to get used to the new team ...
Francisco: - Yes, I understand that in a foreign country it is more difficult, can it take at least a month?
Me: - ... about a year.

I don’t know what he thought about it, probably attributed everything to “Russian exoticism” and decided to take a chance, because a few days later they called me to talk for the fourth time. Formally, this was not an interview to assess my skills, but such as “a conversation with the main man to have an additional opinion from the outside.” So the conversation came out completely secular - I enthusiastically carried something about the Northern War and the foundation of St. Petersburg, which is Petrograd, Leningrad, again St. Petersburg and, in fact, Peter. And he told me about the importance of credit history for an ordinary resident of the USA and how corporations earn money on it, so everything went smoothly. But if you think that after this they sent me an offer, I’ll say right away that no, it’s not so simple with corporations.

Ahead was a background check, meaningless and merciless. Who interacted with offices like Hire Right will understand me, and whom fate has mercy on me will be horrified. These guys check everything, ask for contacts of former colleagues from all places of work for 10 years (thanks to Skype, he remembers everything), scans of the Russian labor and, sorry, give urine for drugs. The analysis, however, is paid by the company, but still not funny. It took about two weeks to this gimmick, and now, finally, they sent me an offer, I signed the contract, and the notary assured him. It was possible to apply for a temporary residence permit.

Near the office

6. Submission of documents for the first residence permit

As I mentioned at the very beginning, getting a Chilean residence permit for a year is very simple - you need to find official work in the local market, and I completed this quest. Now it was necessary to send documents by registered mail to the migration service (extranjeria) and wait for a work permit. At the end of 2015, it took about a month, and I got to work in January 2016. The whole process from signing the contract (December) to getting a visa (April) took 5 months. Work permit - a piece of paper that allows you to officially work while the higher forces decide to give or not to give a residence permit. Theoretically, it is possible to work on it only in the company that wrote the contract, but in practice no information about the company is indicated on it, which creates scope for various frauds. После получения временного внж я пошла в местный ЗАГС (registro civil) и там мне сделали айди — пластмассовую карточку с фотографией и идентификационным номером (RUN).

Types of temporary visas and requirements for them on the official website of the migration service .

7. Bank account

It is unrealistic for an ordinary person to open an account with a local bank without a residence permit. Therefore, the first few months they paid me with a check, and it had to be cashed. It’s a strange feeling, as if you were in an old Hollywood movie where a gangster in a hat exchanged a piece of paper for a pack of dollars. That is, of course, the peso, but still.

After receiving the residence permit and local ID, I came to Banco Estado and opened the so-called suenta rut. This is an internal Chilean account, it has many limitations, but what a relief after running around with checks and cash! To open a full account with a visa / mastercard card, you need to be confused, because not all banks open it to foreigners with a temporary residence permit, plus they look at the salary level, ask for a copy of the work contract or even a certified diploma of higher education. Most likely because along with a settlement account the client is provided with a credit limit, a credit card and a checkbook (!), Even if he does not need either one or the other or the third. On the advice of a colleague, I talked with a representative of the bank with whom the company has a corporate agreement, and for a couple of weeks they did everything to me.

8. Medical insurance

The medical system is quite confusing and expensive if you pay from your own pocket. But for hired workers, everything is relatively simple - 7% of salaries are deducted to an insurance company, which covers 60-80% of the cost of medical services. There are many insurance companies, one state-owned and a bunch of private ones. Private provide different "plans", often tied to a particular clinic, in which there will be more coverage. But with any insurance you can go to any clinic, only the price will depend on the "plan". If the “plan” costs more than 7%, then the missing amount can be paid. My company also provides employees and family members with additional insurance for 10 USD per month, which covers another 80% of the cost of the service after deducting what the basic insurance covers. The clinics themselves also offer additional insurance, так что этот вопрос полезно изучить как следует, чтобы получать максимум за свои налоги.

9. Prices and salaries

The average salary of a middle programmer / tester 2000 - 3000 USD (1,200,000 - 1,800,000 CLP) per month net. Signora, respectively, from 3000 USD and above.

I will not write in detail about prices, I will list the main ones: rent, food, transport.
Rental price is very dependent on the area. A one-bedroom apartment unfurnished in fancy Las Condas costs about 680 USD (400,000 CLP), the Center already has 425 USD (250,000 CLP), and even less expensive in less prestigious areas. Utilities are expensive, depending on the area (I pay about 100 USD for odnushka 35 sq. M.), And water, electricity and gas are paid separately. Internet is also expensive - 25 USD.

The prices for food in a supermarket, according to my subjective feelings, are about 50% higher than in Russia, but for some products (wine), on the contrary. There are also markets, where products are better and cheaper. We usually spend about 100 USD (60,000 CLP) for a large (70 liter) backpack of products, including meat, fish, cheese, vegetables and fruits.

Public transport - metro and buses, one trip costs a little less or a little more than 1 USD, depending on time (more expensive at rush hour). I met the controllers twice in two years, so if you want you can ride a hare, and in extreme cases, pretend to be a hose (crossed out) gringo.

10. People

As you might guess, locals do not suffer from workaholism. Despite the forty-five-hour working week, everything is very leisurely and relaxed - few people stay in the office after 18-00 to finish the task in half an hour. At first it’s annoying, but if everything works somehow, why bother? To live with wolves ... Chileans themselves are very friendly by Russian standards - when they meet, they embrace women or kiss on the cheek or designate a kiss touching their cheeks and smacking the air. At first I shied away, but now I even like it - I don’t have to think whether to give a hand or not and catch puzzled looks. The work ethic is strange here - it’s not acceptable to express dissatisfaction directly or to criticize, to ask questions like “why is the goat a button accordion?” also, to admit that you don’t know or don’t understand something - for nothing in the world. Of course, no one explained all this to me, and out of habit, I chopped off the truth-uterus from my shoulder, despite the ranking card. I suspect the first months the people were somewhat shocked and very tense. Well, clash of cultures is a payment for diversity. Slowly got used to each other. And in the first annual review, the very Francisco noted my “straightforwardness” as a unique virtue that is very lacking in Latin America. But what am I doing? I’m sitting and fixing the Primus. But, if in a working relationship the difference in “mentalities” (a terrible word, but I don’t know how to formulate it) is gradually smoothed out, then in all the rest it should always be kept in mind.

our team

11. Was it worth it?

Everything here is slow, often disorganized, but sunny, calm and tasty. Therefore, you need to go here with the appropriate attitude - if the soul asks for drive and movement, then Chile will most likely disappoint, no matter how you say it, this is not Germany and not Silicon Valley. Nevertheless, if you want warmth and stability, then this is a good and affordable option. Available in the sense that if you suddenly want to go to Chile, then all you need is money for the first time, a basic Spanish and certified diploma. Yes, language is important if you don’t want to pay for everything at the rate “for rich white gringos who don’t understand that they are being fooled” and you need work in the local market. Well, after English, Spanish goes like clockwork, and over time, “immersion in the language environment” does its job.

I will not describe the difficulties of the first year of life in a foreign country, this is a topic for a separate article, dramatic and a bit heroic. The main thing is that everything eventually stabilized, and I do not regret that I left.

Gift from colleagues for Christmas
Thanks to those who have read, ask questions in the comments.