Projected Shutdown Cost: Over $65 Million Per Week of Lost Revenue in Passports & Visas

A B1/B2 visa to the United StatesImage via Wikipedia

Our heroes in Congress averted the almost certain government shutdown at high midnight this past Friday, crafting an agreement with just 120 minutes to spare to keep the wheels of government running.  Although that is over now, the budget fight is just heating up and a shutdown is still possible over the debt ceiling and over the 2012 budget showdown.     

The State Department in its statement on the preparation for possible government shutdown said that routine visas will not/not be issued and that “consular officers around the world routinely adjudicate approximately 200,000 applications each week” (includes issuances and refusals.)

You know, the State Dept has publicly available stats on visa issuance by country, but almost never publicly acknowledge its refusal numbers.  So at least out of this, we now know that the US Government processes approximately 200,000 visa applications per week. That includes applications for tourist and business visas, student and exchange visitors, as well as crew members of airline, ships and transit visas through the United States.  Multiply 200,000 visa applications with $140.00 a pop for the regular visa application fee (other visa type fees range from $150 – $2,250.00) and you get about $28,000,000.00 per week that won’t go to the US Treasury, in the event of a shutdown.

So — that’s about $5.6 million daily loss of visa revenue if consular sections worldwide stop visa operations for a day.  $112,000,000.00 for four weeks of non-visa operation.  And $1.456 billion lost to the treasury for 52 week of government shutdown.  I should note that this is “almost” enough but not quite to run the annual operation of our US Embassy in Baghdad.

And we call visa operations non-essential.

In 2010, nearly 14 million passports were also issued, the third highest annual total in the history of the State Department. It was more than double the number in 1995, when we had that other exciting shutdown and blizzard. At $140 per passport, that was a  $1.96 billion addition to the US Treasury last year. A week of non-passport operation means $37.69 million of lost revenue. A month of shutdown means $150.8 million of lost revenue.  This comes out to a daily loss of $7.5 million in passport revenue based on last year’s passport numbers.

It’s not grandma’s consular operations, anymore.  But, hey! It’s not like the U.S. Treasury needs the money.

If you already have a personal emergency plan in the event of a government shutdown, stick to it; this is going to get rougher.