International migrants are a particularly vulnerable group in the context of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Immigrants in Chile tend to experience multidimensional poverty and layers of social vulnerability. Our analysis aims to describe the perceived social and health-related needs of international migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic in Chile in terms of migration as a social determinant of health and layered social vulnerability. We carried out a qualitative analysis of responses to an open-ended question focused on the social and health-related needs linked to the pandemic included in an online questionnaire disseminated during April 2020 aimed at international migrants residing in Chile. The information gathered was thematically analysed. We included 1690 participants. They expressed needs related to health and others linked to the overall socio-economic and political response, employment, material conditions and psychosocial aspects. They also reported needs related to ‘being a migrant’. Additionally, some participants described situations of vulnerability. We analysed their needs and situations of vulnerability identified around the following emerging frames: (a) work and living conditions, (b) regularisation traps and perceived lack of support and (c) and physical and mental health needs. International migrants in Chile report experiencing interrelated layers of social vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic, where ‘being a migrant’ exacerbates physical and mental health risks. The issues revealed are immediate and direct public health challenges, as well as different aspects of social vulnerability linked to migratory status, employment and barriers to accessing healthcare that should be addressed through comprehensive policies and measures.