Peruvians may soon be able to skip a cumbersome visa process at the United States Embassy in Lima if new conversations go well.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that it has begun talks with Peru about the possibility of the Latin American country joining the visa waiver program, which allows citizens of participating countries the freedom to travel to the U.S. without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, when meeting certain other requirements.
The department of Homeland Security said that Peru is one of several Latin American countries that have expressed interest in joining the visa waiver program since the U.S. granted it to Chile in February this year. Chile became the 38th participant in the Visa Waiver Program, and the first Latin American nation.
Most of the countries that have been accepted to the visa waiver program are high-income, developed nations such as Canada, Australia, Japan and countries in Western Europe.
The U.S. says the visa waiver program is a tool for security and law enforcement participation between like-minded countries, but also provides an opportunity to facilitate trade.
Peru, an important ally of the United States in Latin America, signed a free trade agreement with the U.S. in 2009.
Homeland Security said it is working with Peru to reaffirm "our shared interest in facilitating the flow of people and goods between our two countries while protecting our citizens from the threats posed by terrorism and transnational crime."
"Recognizing Peru's desire to be designated as a participant in the VWP and the complexity of the qualifying process and the many requirements, DHS and the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Relations intend to consult closely and to take the necessary steps that would enable Peru to meet the requirements for VWP designation," the department said.
Peru's economy, one of the strongest in the region and predicted to continue important growth in the coming years, has not only meant that fewer Peruvians are seeking job opportunities abroad (as legal or illegal immigrants) but that many are returning to Peru from Europe and North America to find jobs or invest in local business.
Peru is currently waiting for the European parliament to give a final approval to waive the Schengen visa for Peruvians visiting the European Union.