Chile Migration Trends

Migration Trends in Chile

Migration Trends in Chile

Chile has received over 30,000 asylum requests since 2010, with Cuba accounting for 23.9% of the total requests, including 101 requests this year, reports Emol.

According to data from the Servicio Nacional de Migraciones, 52.5% of the granted requests are from women, and 47.5% are from men. Ukraine accounts for 6.2% of the recognized requests.

Eight confirmed Cuban athletes who participated in the Pan American Games have left the Cuban delegation and are beginning the process of seeking asylum or refuge in Chile.

Yesterday, seven athletes, including six female field hockey players and a hurdler, were reported to have left, and yesteray afternoon, the Interior Ministry confirmed an eighth case.

Manuel Monsalve, the Deputy Minister of the Interior, explained that the eighth individual has already submitted an asylum request to the National Migration Service, stating, “the refugee law operates with an eight-month temporary visa, accepting the initiation of the refugee process.”

Meanwhile, the attorney for the other seven athletes, Mijail Bonito, indicated yesterday morning on Radio Universo that, after meetings with each of them, it will be determined whether they will proceed with asylum or refugee requests.

The case of these athletes has brought attention to the options available to individuals under current legislation to obtain refugee status in the country.

For instance, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has prompted many, especially Ukrainians, to seek refuge in Chile.


Image Credit: Migracion En Chile, Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes.


Refugee protection is governed by Law 20.430, in effect since 2010, which guarantees the confidentiality of applications and the principle of non-refoulement.

This status is granted to individuals who are persecuted based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political beliefs, and who fear for their lives, safety, or freedom in their home countries, as well as those fleeing armed conflicts or wars.

The granting of refugee status is subject to a case-by-case evaluation. Cuba accounts for 23.9% of the requests, and Ukraine for 6.2% of those granted.

According to data from the National Migration Service (SERMIG), there have been 30,048 requests received from 2010 to the present, with refugee status granted to 815 people, including five Cubans.

In terms of the nationalities of those seeking refuge, Venezuela comprises 38.5%, followed by Colombia at 31.1%, and Cuba at 23.9%.



Regarding those granted refugee status, Colombia accounts for 58.1%, Syria for 14.4%, and Ukraine for 6.2%. When broken down by gender, 52.5% of the granted requests belong to women, and 47.5% to men.



Between 2018 and 2021, a total of 4,557 Cuban nationals applied for refuge, but only one was granted this status. During this administration, 345 Cuban nationals have applied for refuge, with none granted this status as of now.



According to data from the Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes, in 2023, a total of 1,220 Venezuelans have applied for refuge, along with 445 Colombians, 101 Cubans, 41 Ecuadorians, 35 Russians, 28 Peruvians, 25 Chinese, 18 Ukrainians, 10 Bolivians, 7 Haitians, 5 Afghans, 4 Costa Ricans, and 2 Brazilians, among other nationalities where only one case has been recorded.



As explained by the National Director of Sermig, Luis Eduardo Thayer, “refuge is a tool to protect people who are persecuted in their home countries for political, ideological, or other reasons, and it is protected by the principles of non-refoulement and confidentiality. Since it is an international protection mechanism, each case is rigorously evaluated, and we safeguard the identity of the individuals throughout the process.”

What are the requirements that do not apply? Thayer notes that some individuals cite “economic reasons,” which are not grounds for granting refugee status.

“Therefore, these requests are considered unfounded. When people come for economic or employment reasons, they should apply for a temporary residence permit that allows them to live and work in the country.”

The director also mentioned that the government has proposed a bill, approved by the Senate and currently under consideration in the Chamber, aimed at “improving the refugee law to establish an initial phase and allow applications that are manifestly unfounded, such as those based on economic motives, to not proceed to the analysis stage, thus making the mechanisms of protection more efficient for those who truly need refuge.”

Housing Challenges

Regarding access to housing, the percentage of migrants who reside in their own home (15%) is much lower than those who were born in Chile (67%).

One in 4, rents without a contract – a condition that would occur in 1 in every 20 non-migrants – and is related to access strategies for those living in informal housing.

Formal housing tends to materialize through networks that are acquired as the time of residence passes.



New migrants tend to acquire housing through informal renting, leading many to live in camps. Almost 30% of those who live in these settlements are migrants.

According to Migracion Chile‘s study on housing and migration, migrants experience critical habitability situations including overcrowding and informal access to basic services.



Migration in Chile. Percentage of migrant families living in camps. Image Credit: Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes.


Childhood and Adolescence Migrant Population in Chile

Population Estimation Analysis based on the estimation of foreign individuals residing in Chile as of December 31, 2021

A report by Servicios Migrantes Chile reveals that the migrant population in Chile has increased, leading to a rise in the number of migrant children and adolescents (NNA) currently residing in the country.

In 2021, it was estimated that there were 1,482,390 foreign individuals living in Chile. This figure represents an absolute growth of 182,958 people compared to the 2018 estimate, and a relative growth of 14.1% for the same period. In the 2020 estimate, the absolute growth of this population was 22,343 people, with a relative growth of 1.5%.


Percentage of child migration to Chile by age and nationality, 2021.Image Credit: INE-SERMIG, Chile.


As for the population of NNA (ages 0 to 19), the 2021 estimate indicated that there were 198,266 foreign individuals, accounting for 13.4% of the total estimated immigrant population.

This number represents an absolute growth of 149 people compared to the NNA estimated for 2018 and a decrease of 38 people compared to the 2020 estimate.

Analyzing Violence Against Immigrant Women 

Antofagasta ranks second in the country with the highest proportion of migrants, accounting for 7.2 percent of the total, following closely behind the Metropolitan region with 61.6 percent, as reported by Antofagasta Noticias.

To address the pressing issue of domestic violence, especially concerning immigrant women seeking assistance from Women’s Centers, programs, and Shelter Houses, the Intersectorial Femicide Circuit organized a seminar.

The event featured presentations by professionals from the National Service for Women (SernamEG) and the Public Ministry. Their findings shed light on the increasing vulnerability of immigrant women in the region.

The number of foreign women seeking help through various SernamEG services, in collaboration with organizations like ONG Trekan, the Tocopilla Presidential Delegation, the Calama Municipality, and the Tocopilla Municipality, rose from 20.4 percent in 2021 to 31.9 percent in 2022.

Felipe Caro Vega, the speaker and coordinator of SernamEG’s prevention program, attributes these rising numbers to the fact that many women often lack awareness of the violence they endure. This lack of awareness leaves them vulnerable, with no support networks, emotional isolation, and confinement to private spaces without any family assistance.

Breaking down the statistics by country of origin, Bolivian women were the most commonly served by these organizations. However, there was a notable decrease in cases, dropping from 52.5 percent in 2021 to 21.08 percent in 2022.

These figures align with data from the National Migration Service in 2021, which indicates that the region is home to approximately 106,274 migrants, with a significant portion hailing from Bolivia (38.6 percent) and Colombia (29.4 percent).

Caro highlighted that women participating in SernamEG programs on gender-based violence often face constant threats from their partners. In some instances, their partners withhold their passports as a means of coercion.

Moreover, it was observed that migrant women typically experience the initial episodes of violence within a short period, often around two months after meeting their partners. These incidents tend to escalate in severity over time.

Caro emphasized the importance of informing women that, in Chile, every woman has the right to live free from violence, regardless of their immigration status. In each of their centers, they provide assistance to help women regularize their situations, ensuring their protection and the opportunity to rebuild their lives. This approach is rooted in the fundamental principles of human rights.

As part of the discussion, María González Cofré, a lawyer and advisor at the International Cooperation Unit of the Prosecutor’s Office, explained the process of obtaining temporary permits for humanitarian reasons, which are granted to women in cases of domestic and gender-based violence, human trafficking, illicit migration, forced prostitution, and abduction.


See Also

Migratory Statistics with a Gender Focus


Soledad Quartucci | CEO/Founder, Latina Republic

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