On February 28, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that Chile became the latest country to be eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Although originally scheduled for May 1, Vice President Joe Biden announced that implementation would be moved up to March 31.
The VWP enables eligible citizens of participating countries to enter the United States for business or tourism without obtaining a U.S. visa, and to stay up to a maximum period of 90 days, provided certain conditions are met. In FY 2013, travel pursuant to the VWP accounted for about 19.6 million visits to the United States, representing approximately 60 percent of tourist and business travelers entering the country by air. The current VWP members are: Andorra; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Brunei; Chile; 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.
As with all other VWP members, prior to travel to the United States, Chilean VWP travelers will be required to apply for and receive advance travel authorization through the DHS Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the VWP. Once granted, ESTA authorizations are generally valid for multiple entries into the United States over a period of two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first.
Note: This article was published in the April/May issue of the Immigration eAuthority.