Brazil on path to Global Entry in '16, but tourist visa waiver remains elusive

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff's first visit to the United States last week resulted in an agreement to include Brazil in the U.S. Global Entry frequent traveler program by July 2016. But a waiver for tourist visas isn't in the cards, despite Brazil meeting most of the standards set by the U.S. for countries in its Visa Waiver Program.

Brazilian and American authorities have negotiated over the past year to include Brazil in the U.S. Global Entry program. It permits American travelers and foreigners who frequent the U.S. -- mainly business travelers  -- to move through Customs entry at U.S. airports without waiting in long immigration lines.


Both governments confirmed on June 30 that Brazil would pursue final steps to solidify its participation in Global Entry by the first half of 2016, though those steps weren't specified. Global Entry kiosks are now present in 42 U.S. airports, including Orlando International.

The presidential offices also said Brazil and the U.S. would continue working together for Brazil to meet U.S. requirements for its Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which would allow Brazilian tourists to enter the country without having to apply for a $160 tourist visa in advance. No deadline for that was mentioned.


Brazil is said to be close to meeting the standard of less than 3 percent of its tourist visa applicants being denied by the U.S. government. That's a key factor for countries to be included in VWP, but the U.S. government also requires access to personal information about foreigners that have faced legal charges, something Brazil has reportedly balked at.

The U.S. Travel Association lobbied last week for President Barack Obama to expand the VWP to include Brazil, arguing it would add nearly 650,000 new Brazilian visitors to the U.S. and add $7.6 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015. One American job is created for every 32 Brazilian visitors, USTA claims.

Brazilians are the No. 1 tourist group for Orlando from outside North America as of 2013, and American and Brazilian airlines have been adding new non-stop flights between Orlando and new Brazilian cities this year.

"Brazil represents a crucial travel market, with both strong demand and financial means for international travel," said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. "Admitting Brazil to the VWP would generate record-breaking levels of reciprocal travel and positively impact the economy of both countries."

USTA said the economic effect of adding countries to the VWP has been shown in recent years with South Korea. After it was admitted in 2008, spending by South Korean tourists rose 52 percent between 2008 and 2012, from $2.7 billion to $4.2 billion. Flights between the two countries also increased by 31 percent. or (407) 420-5685