New US Visa Fees Proposed

A B1/B2 visa to the United StatesImage via Wikipedia

This was announced yesterday by the Office of the Spokesman:

On December 14, 2009, the Department of State published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to increase the nonimmigrant visa application processing fees, also called the Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) fee, and Border Crossing Card (BCC) fees. The proposed rule also establishes a tiered structure with separate fees for different visa categories.

The Department is proposing the increase to ensure sufficient resources to cover the increasing cost of processing nonimmigrant visas (NIVs). This increase applies both to nonimmigrant visas placed in passports and to border crossing cards issued to certain adult applicants in Mexico.

The new tiered fee structure was created to cover the higher unit costs for processing certain categories of nonimmigrant visas that are more complicated and require more in-depth consideration than most other categories of nonimmigrant visas. U.S. law requires the Department to attempt to recover the cost of processing nonimmigrant visas through the collection of the application fees. Because of ongoing process and security enhancements, the $131 fee set on January 1, 2008 is lower than the current, actual cost of processing nonimmigrant visas.

Under the proposed rule, applicants for all visas that are not petition-based, including B1/B2 tourist and business visitor visas and all student and exchange visitor visas, would pay a fee of $140.

Applicants for petition-based visas would pay an application fee of $150. These categories include:

· H visa for temporary workers and trainees
· L visa for intracompany transferees
· O visa for aliens with extraordinary ability
· P visa for athletes, artists and entertainers
· Q visa for international cultural exchange visitors
· R visa for religious occupations

The application fee for K visas for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens would be $350. The fee for E visas for treaty-traders and treaty-investors would be $390.

The Department says it will not begin collecting the new proposed fees until it considers public comments and publishes a final rule. See the proposed rule and submit comments here. Or check out www.regulations.gov. The Consular Affairs Bureau has also released a media note on this proposed fee increase including a FAQ here.

Excerpted from the proposed rule published: “Historically, nonimmigrant visa workload has increased year to year at approximately 5%. However, global economic conditions led to a 12.7% drop in demand in Fiscal Year 2009. We anticipate that with global economic recovery, demand will return to its historical pattern of growth after Fiscal Year 2010. With regard to the economic impact as a whole, the more than 92% of nonimmigrant visa applications that are not petition-based are sought by and paid for entirely by foreign national applicants. The revenue increases resulting from those fees should not be considered to have a direct cost impact on the domestic economy.”