WASHINGTON – The U.S. and Peruvian governments have launched a process of close consultations leading to waiving visas in the medium term for Peruvians to travel to the United States, the Department of Homeland Security said.
Peru is seeking to qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, the DHS assistant secretary for International Affairs, Alan Bersin, said in a statement posted on the department’s Web site.
Given “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,” Bersin said.
When asked about the announcement, Peru’s ambassador to the United States, Harold Forsyth, said that this is “the birth of a process.”
“This is going to take time. I figure that we will be able to see concrete results in about three years, but taking into account that the U.S. has demanded visas of Peru since ... 1923, a wait of three years will not be much,” he told Efe.
In beginning the process, it is necessary to “noticeably” reduce the number of visa requests that the U.S. Consulate in Lima rejects for different reasons, Forsyth said.
Currently, U.S. authorities reject about 16 percent of the visa requests presented by Peruvians.
On Feb. 28, Chile became the 38th country participating in the VWP.
“Following Chile’s designation, several Latin American countries have expressed interest in joining the program,” Bersin said.
“Among these countries is Peru, which DHS has been working with extensively ... 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,” he said.
The DHS announcement “is the initial result of work that began a year ago,” the Peruvian ambassador said.
“Everything is due to President Ollanta Humala and to his commitment to move forward on this issue to the benefit of our countrymen. He gave clear instructions for mobilizing on this issue and the way he dealt with the matter in his meeting with President Obama here in the White House on June 12, 2013, was admirable,” the envoy said.