July 18, 2024

Securing a US visa can be a complex process, but for Chile citizens, it is more straightforward thanks to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This program allows citizens of participating countries, including Chile, to travel to the United States for tourism, business, or while in transit for up to 90 days without needing to obtain a visa. However, it’s important to understand the specifics of the VWP and the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which is an integral part of the process. In this article, we will delve into the details of the US visa for Chile citizens, highlighting the steps involved, necessary documents, and other essential information.

Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and ESTA

The Visa Waiver Program is a significant advantage for Chilean travelers. It simplifies the process of visiting the United States for short stays. Under the VWP, Chile citizens do not need to apply for a traditional visa; instead, they must obtain an ESTA. ESTA is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the VWP and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk.

Applying for ESTA

Applying for an ESTA is a relatively simple and quick process. Here are the steps involved:

  1. Complete the Application Online: The ESTA application must be completed online through the official ESTA website. Applicants will need to provide personal information, passport details, travel information, and answer several eligibility questions.
  2. Pay the Fee: There is a fee associated with the ESTA application, which must be paid online using a credit or debit card. As of 2023, the fee is $21.
  3. Receive Approval: Once the application is submitted, most applicants receive a decision within minutes. However, it is recommended to apply at least 72 hours before departure in case of any delays or issues.
  4. Travel to the United States: If approved, the ESTA is valid for two years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. During this period, Chilean travelers can make multiple trips to the United States without reapplying for an ESTA, as long as each stay is no longer than 90 days.

Traditional US Visa Options

While the ESTA and VWP cover most short-term travel needs, there are instances where Chilean citizens might need a traditional visa. This includes stays longer than 90 days, working or studying in the US, or if the traveler does not meet the ESTA eligibility requirements. Here are the most common types of US visas Chilean citizens might need:

B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa

For those who need to stay longer than 90 days or who are not eligible for an ESTA, the B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa is the standard option. The B-1 visa is for business travelers, while the B-2 visa is for tourists. These visas are generally issued for a period of up to 10 years and allow for stays of up to six months per visit.

F-1 Student Visa

Chilean citizens who wish to study in the United States must apply for an F-1 Student Visa. To be eligible, the applicant must first be accepted into a US educational institution recognized by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The application process involves submitting the Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status), paying the SEVIS fee, and attending an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate.

H-1B Work Visa

For Chilean citizens who have a job offer from a US employer in a specialty occupation, the H-1B visa is the appropriate category. This visa is employer-sponsored, meaning the US company must file a petition on behalf of the applicant. The H-1B visa is typically granted for up to three years and can be extended to a maximum of six years. US VISA FOR CZECH CITIZENS

Required Documentation

Regardless of the type of visa being applied for, several documents are required as part of the application process. These include:

  1. Valid Passport: The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the intended stay in the United States.
  2. Photograph: A recent passport-sized photograph that meets the US visa photo requirements.
  3. Application Form: For ESTA, the online application form must be completed. For traditional visas, the DS-160 form is required.
  4. Fee Payment Receipt: Proof of payment for the visa application fee.
  5. Supporting Documents: Depending on the visa type, additional documents such as proof of ties to Chile, financial evidence, letter of employment, or acceptance letter from a US educational institution may be required.

Visa Interview

For traditional visas, a key part of the application process is the visa interview. This interview is conducted at the US Embassy or Consulate in Chile. During the interview, the consular officer will ask questions to determine the applicant’s eligibility and the purpose of the visit. It is essential to be well-prepared and to provide honest and concise answers. The following tips can help ensure a successful interview:

  1. Be Prepared: Review the application and supporting documents beforehand. Be ready to answer questions about your travel plans, ties to Chile, and financial situation.
  2. Dress Appropriately: While there is no formal dress code, dressing professionally can create a positive impression.
  3. Stay Calm and Confident: Answer questions clearly and confidently. If you do not understand a question, it is okay to ask for clarification.

Special Considerations

Dual Citizens

Chile allows dual citizenship, and many Chilean citizens may also hold citizenship from another country. It is important to use the Chilean passport when applying for ESTA or any US visa and for entering and exiting both Chile and the United States. Using the same passport consistently helps avoid complications.


Traveling to the United States is a rewarding experience, and for Chilean citizens, the process is relatively streamlined thanks to the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA. However, understanding the requirements, necessary documentation, and the steps involved is crucial to ensure a smooth journey. Whether applying for an ESTA or a traditional visa, preparation is key. By staying informed and organized, Chilean travelers can enjoy all that the United States has to offer without unnecessary stress or complications.

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