DHS Includes Chile in Visa Waiver Program

Visa Waiver

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson recently announced that Chile will now be included in the list of countries on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Now, Chilean citizens who have been approved through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and who have an e-passport will be able to enter the United States without applying for nonimmigrant visitor (B1/B2) visas, which can be a cumbersome, expensive, and time-consuming process for many foreign nationals. This is expected to streamline travel for thousands of eligible Chilean passport holders.

Chile is now the 38th country to be included in the VWP, which allows individuals to travel visa-free in the U.S. for up to 90 days for tourism or business. Like all citizens of VWP countries, Chilean passport holders will need to apply for pre-screening authorization online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/.

A full list of the 38 VWP countries can be found on the State Department’s website at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/visit/visa-waiver-program.html.

Johnson was joined by Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbotham and by Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno and Chilean Ambassador Felipe Bulnes when he made the announcement on Feb. 28. Johnson said the program will start May 1. Higginbotham said the announcement would serve to further strengthen the strong partnership that the U.S. and Chile enjoy.

In Fiscal Year 2013, the VWP accounted for about 19.6 million visits to the United States or approximately 60 percent of tourist and business travelers entering the United States by air.