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Visa Waiver Program

It will soon be easier for Chileans to visit the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that Chile became the 38th country to join the visa waiver program. This is a big deal for Chile. It is the first Latin American country to be included. Most other Visa Waiver Countries are in Europe or Asia. To see the other Visa Waiver countries click here.

Why does it matter? Well Chilean nationals will no longer need to apply for a visa to come to the U.S. As of May 1, 2014, eligible passport holders can visit the U.S. for 90 days or less without a visa, as long as they are traveling for business or tourism. They will also need to apply online through DHS’s online Electronic System for Travel Authorization. However, that is a small price to pay compared to the visa request process. Last year, nearly 250,000 Chileans traveled to the U.S. After May 1, 2014, it will be easier for them to come back.

This also means that U.S. citizens will no longer have to pay a $160 reciprocity fee when they enter Chile. Having been born in Chile, I never needed to pay the reciprocity fee, but my wife did. This is a big deal for Chile and it is a recognition of its stable political and economic climate.

At Andres Mejer Law, we have helped many individuals get a tourist visa for their family members. Almost every one of them had already applied on their own and was turned down. Overwhelming we have been successful in getting them to legally visit their family members in the U.S. The key is the ability to document that one has roots in their country and is not likely to stay in the U.S. That means proving family ties in their country, stable employment, business interests, own property, or hold significant assets. There is no magic formula, every case is unique. What is important for Chile is that nationals with qualifying passports will no longer have to go through this process. For them, they can book a plane to day in Chile and arrive in the U.S. tomorrow. It is still a 12 hour flight after all.

If you want to participate in the visa waiver program, or bring a family member to the U.S., don’t do it alone. Call our knowledgeable staff at 888-695-6169.