Chile joins USA visa waiver list

27 March, 2014

The USA Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the designation of Chile into its Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which permits visa-free travel for up to 90 days to Chilean citizens, offering the potential for the country’s agents to promote more short-term programmes.

“The United States and Chile have a robust partnership – from advancing peace and democratic values in the hemisphere to supporting shared economic growth through trade and investment,” said USA Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Heather Higginbottom, at a press conference announcing the change. “Today’s move will continue to bring our governments – and, more importantly, our citizens – closer together, strengthening the foundation of our enduring partnership for years to come.”

“It is wonderful news for Chileans to be designated into the Visa Waiver Program but mainly for those who are going to USA for business and tourism, said Marienelly Núñez, Senior Educational Consultant at Chile-based agency Study Tours. “For short-term English programmes it will be fantastic only if the student will take 15 or a maximum of 20 hours of ESL lessons per week.”

Students on intensive language programmes, which represent the majority of business for Chilean agents, will still need visas. “According to our statistics, the biggest percentage of Chileans take intensive courses and for longer terms. However, perhaps this VWP will help to increase the enquiries for less intensive courses. We could have a better idea of this by the end of this year,” said Núñez.

Chile joins 37 other participants in the VWP designation process. In the Fiscal Year 2013, the VWP accounted for 19.6 million visits to the USA and approximately 60 per cent of tourist and business travellers entering by air, according to DHS data.

Eligible Chilean passport holders will be required to apply for advanced authorisation through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a DHS web-based system.

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