Chile has become a member of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), the Department of Homeland Security has announced. Beginning on May 1, 2014, eligible Chilean e-passport holders may use the VWP to make short trips for business or tourism, without the need to obtain a visa, provided that they meet program requirements.
The Visa Waiver Program allows foreign nationals from designated countries to enter the United States for business or tourism for up to 90 days without the need to obtain a B-1/B-2 visitor visa from a U.S. consulate. Chile joins 37 other VWP members: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
Traveling Under the Visa Waiver Program
Like all other VWP travelers, Chilean citizens must register and obtain approval to travel from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in order to make visa-free visits to the United States. They must also carry an e-passport, which the Chilean government began issuing in September 2013. An e-passport is embedded with an integrated computer chip containing the traveler’s biographic data.
ESTA approval should be sought at least 72 hours before travel. If approved, the traveler’s ESTA registration will be valid for two years or until the expiration of his or her passport, whichever is earlier. The authorization may be used for multiple trips to the United States during the validity period. Foreign nationals who are denied ESTA registration must apply for a B-1/B-2 visa in order to visit the United States for business or tourism.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Chile’s participation in the Visa Waiver Program is welcome news for employers and eligible foreign nationals. It will streamline travel for many, since it will allow eligible Chileans to avoid the processing delays of the B-1 visa application procedure when making short business trips to the United States.