SANTIAGO – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced on Wednesday the creation of a special visa for migrant children and teenagers that will allow them to get access to health care and educational benefits.
Bachelet signed a decree eliminating the fee for obtaining the special visa and said that she is working with the embassies and consulates of Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia and Haiti to simplify the delivery of birth certificates from the countries of origin.
The only requirement for obtaining the special visa is that the minors must have a birth certificate legalized in Chile, regardless of the immigration status of their parents.
“Since the law considers that they are in an irregular immigration situation, the youngest children are seeing their rights limited or are finding themselves at the mercy of goodwill,” Bachelet said upon presenting the initiative in the capital’s Recoleta neighborhood, where a large number of immigrants live.
“It’s a tremendous injustice that we want to begin to leave behind with a system that is clear and transparent. We want – whether they were born in Chile or not – for (all children) to have the same rights,” the president said.
The Chilean government estimates that during the second half of 2017, some 30,000 minors will obtain the special visa to gain access to state benefits.
In the educational realm, the migrants will be able to request subsidies and have access to school meal programs, books, transportation, uniforms and insurance, among other benefits.
Bachelet said that creating the special visa will allow Chile to comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and become one of the “most advanced” nations in that regard.