For a decade, Chilean travelers had privileged access to the United States, by having a robust Visa Waiver Program (known as Exemption from entry visa). The South American country is the only country in the region that has access to this advantage, which Washington offers to developed countries with low irregular migration. But the abuse of some tourists, even linked to international crime, has sowed some doubts that it will continue, despite the constant signals of calm from the White House.
On Wednesday, May 17, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer expressed concern about the tool being used in the hands of Spears International, the name given to thieves who commit crimes outside their territory. According to Persecution, in the past two weeks, three attackers from Chile have been identified, who have been accused of participating in a house robbery.
The Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the statement of the California Attorney General, in which he condemned citizens’ exploitation of the visa-free travel authorization for criminal activities. In addition, the State Department confirmed that work with the US Department of Homeland Security is bearing fruit, so the validity of the program will be maintained without major difficulties.
“Chile, through a multisectoral schedule composed of the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Civil Registration and Identity Service; the Chilean Police; and the Investigative Police, continue to advance in compliance with the Action Plan under the Visa Waiver Program requested by the United States Department of Homeland Security.” She pointed to a portfolio led by Minister Alberto van Klaveren, a moderate-left independent.
The conflict added a new chapter after US Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, who represents California, threatened the government not to send resources associated with the program. The politician—who is also the majority leader of his party in the House of Representatives—demands that Santiago turn over all data related to the traveling criminals taking advantage of the benefit.
What is a visa waiver
Chile is part of the program Exemption from entry visa Since 2014, when the United States included it in a list of 40 participating countries. The scheme is for people who are on business or tourism trips for a maximum of 90 days without the need for a visa. In 2015, when the first year of validity was completed, 333,830 Chileans were reported to have entered the United States under this method.
How is it obtained
The Visa Waiver Program allows travelers to avoid face-to-face processing at the consulate or purchasing a visa. To access the permit, you must fill out a form at Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Another prerequisite is the presence of a valid electronic passport, which contains a chip with the data of its bearer, as well as the absence of a criminal record. The tourist must hold a round-trip ticket, and make their trips with authorized means of transport.
Those who apply to the system must wait 72 hours for a response, which can be an “approved permit” (approved) or “unauthorized travel” (rejected). It can also return a “Authorization Pending” letter, referring the applicant to another review process.
The total cost of the procedure is $ 21, it must be paid by MasterCard, VISA, American Express or Discover (JCB, Diners Club) credit cards.
countries integrating the programme
Chile is the only country in Latin America that participates in this programme. The other joining countries are Germany, Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, South Korea, Croatia, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Poland, United Kingdom and Czech Republic.
Alerts from the United States
The United States Homeland Security authorities have issued some alerts about the abuse that some Chileans are providing to Exemption from entry visa. In October 2022, Washington’s newly arrived ambassador to Santiago de Chile, Bernadette Meehan, stated that the program had not had any major modifications, but she made some remarks about what happened with the Chileans.
“What distinguishes Chile a little bit is that it is banned Bad faith. Specifically, we see that the Bandit gangs in South AmericaAs they are called in the United States, most of them come from Chile. This is an issue that is attracting more and more attention in the United States.
Questions about the Visa Waiver Program have been clarified by both Washington and Santiago authorities. Proof of this is that last December the United States decided to keep Chile among the member states of the selected group “in view of the positive indications observed” with regard to the control of irregular travel and security.
The US government has boosted its confidence in its Chilean counterpart following the words of prosecutor Spitzer. In a statement published by Tele13, Ambassador Meehan said: “I am confident we will continue to increase information sharing and Chile will continue to remain in the Visa Waiver Program. This is something we have said since I arrived in Chile about eight months ago.”
The statements of the White House and Lomoneda regarding the continuation of the initiative clashed with the rush of Representative McCarthy and the Republicans, who intensified their rhetoric regarding the security problems that the diplomatic agreement with Chile would generate. “What we find is, with more than 350,000 people from Chile coming here last year from a country of just 19 million people, organized crime is raiding our homes. .
American conservatives have turned to finance to censor and question the authorities Exemption from entry visa Chile. For this, they introduced draft funding to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), withdrawing funds for the program, which was approved by a majority of the committee. With this they seek the Chilean executive to turn over criminal records of all persons entering the country, in order to more easily detect those traveling with the motive of crime.