Chile's Visa Requirements Halt Haiti Influx, Ask for Skin Color

(Bloomberg) -- Chile’s new visa requirements are making life harder for Haitians wanting to emigrate to the South American nation, and their impact has been immediate.

After almost 50,000 Haitians came to Chile in the four months through October, Chile imposed a visa requirement on all Haitians visiting the country as of April 16. As a result, tourist arrivals from Haiti dropped to 28 from April 16 to 18, compared with 215 in the week earlier period.

The application form has triggered controversy in Chile as it includes questions about skin color -- albino, white, yellow, olive, brown or black -- eye color and hair color, where you can say you wear a wig. Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero said the questions have existed since 2005, but it is not clear on which forms.

“People who think this is new are making a mistake,” Ampuero said. “There are two motives, in case of lost documents or accidents.”

Ampuero also said Chileans had to give the same information when they are registered in Chile at birth. Again, it wasn’t clear if that was accurate or why authorities would need a baby’s eye or skin color.

At the same time that Chile imposed visa requirements on Haitians, it created a new visa for Venezuelans fleeing the country’s economic collapse. They can now apply in Venezuela for a visa that gives them the right to work in Chile, without a pre-existing contract.

For more on confusion surrounding the new Venezuelan visas, click here

There are currently more than one million immigrants in Chile, of which about a third are undocumented.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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