Chile will offer a special tech visa for start-ups and entrepreneurs which cuts the visa approval process to just 15 days.
The visa was launched this week by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet (pictured above) during an investment conference hosted by InvestChile and is aimed at tech companies looking to set up in Chile and tech professionals looking to work for Chilean tech firms.
Those selected for Start-Up Chile will also be able to acquire a visa within 15 days of application.
“In this way we want to continue advancing so that more companies continue to consider Chile as their starting point in the region, in an alliance in which we all win,” said Bachelet.
Nathan Lustig, managing partner at Chilean venture capital firm Magma Partners, told ZDNet said the visa will make it easier to launch and grow a global business from Chile.
Start-Up Chile director Rocio Fonseca called it a pioneering visa for Latin America and really disruptive at the international level.
Fonseca said Chilean engineers and technicians are among the best professionals in the world, which is why big technology companies are electing Chile to start up, but he added that the volume of professionals that the country generates is still not large.
The news comes as in South Africa last month the then minister of home affairs (now minister of finance) Malusi Gigaba said in a reply to a question in Parliament that none of the 48 applications for business visas were granted last year.
Added to this just 25 of the 173 application for renewal of business visas were granted.
Gigaba said many applicants had submitted applications with fraudulent Chartered Accountant letters purporting to confirm the availability of funds.
The Immigration Regulations prescribe R5 million ($360,000) as an amount in cash to be invested in South Africa.
The country has been clamping down on immigrants who want to start businesses there (see this earlier post).
If South Africa and other emerging economies want to encourage the exchange of new ideas and innovation, officials could do well to make it easier for entrepreneurs to enter. Yet there are not many countries bold enough to take such steps. Chile remains one of the few.
Timm is a South African who writes on small business. Follow Small Business Insight on Twitter at @Smallbinsight.
Stephen Timm is a