Push to add 3 South American Nations to Visa Waiver Program
Getting to Brazil’s beautiful beaches would be a bit cheaper if everyone drops their visa fees.
If the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) has its way, the nations of Argentina, Brazil and Chile will soon be welcomed into the United States Visa Waiver Program, which means that its citizens will no longer need to go through the lengthy and expensive process of obtaining a visa in order to visit the United States.
That could be good news for U.S. travelers as well. All three countries have, in recent years, established their own visa fees — called “reciprocity fees” because they mirror the charges that their own citizens must pay to enter the United States (the U.S. doesn’t even return the fees to those who don’t get approved for a visa).
At International Pow Wow, the big tourism conference organized by the USTA last week in Orlando, Choice Hotels International president and CEO Stephen Joyce, who is also the new national chair of the USTA, spoke to delegates about the Visa Waiver Program, which currently includes 36 countries. “We’d like to see this important and successful program continue to grow to include countries [in] Latin America, and we’ve specifically targeted Brazil, Argentina and Chile for future inclusion,” he said.
Indeed, there was a time when the process of arranging a visit to these three nations was a fairly simple and inexpensive proposal, at least from a governmental perspective. But as the United States began enacting ever-more-expensive visa fees, so did these three countries (and Brazil makes U.S. travelers go through a rather extensive application process before they leave the United States). If the U.S. government gets rid of visa requirements for those three destinations, it’s likely they will stop charging us too — making travel a cheaper and smoother experience for everyone involved.