Chile’s ambassador to the US, Felipe Bulnes, said the two countries were close to an agreement over Chile joining the US Visa Waiver Program, which allows visa-free travel to the United States for up to 90 days for business and tourism, including language travel. The country’s President, Sebastian Piñera, is meeting US President Obama on June 4 to discuss cooperation on issues including education.
One of the reasons for Chile’s likely inclusion is its low visa application rejection rate to the US
Access to the Visa Waiver Program would be welcome news for US English language schools offering programmes under six months long. When Taiwan joined the programme in October, language schools told The PIE that they expected demand to rise (although not for longer programmes such as English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and pathways).
One of the reasons for Chile’s inclusion would be its low visa application rejection rate to the US, which fell last year to less than three per cent. It will also be implementing an electronic passport system in September, a programme requirement.
Some 36 countries are Visa Waiver Program members including the UK, Lithuania and South Korea. Citizens can visit the US simply by buying an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) online at little cost. A host of other countries have been nominated to join including Israel, Brazil, Uruguay, Poland and Romania.