The US State Department will increase some non-immigrant visa application (NIV) processing fees as early as May 30, 2023.
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) is the agency responsible for services provided to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals outside U.S. territory through Embassies and Consulates, such as visa stamping applications in applicants’ passports. The DOS sets the consular fees based on the concept of full cost recovery for the service or Cost of Service Model – CoSM, which is updated annually considering the direct and indirect costs associated with the consular service. Every two years the DOS proposes updating the Schedule of Fee to reflect these costs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the DOS has exceptionally used the average costs of the last 10 years, in order to reduce the short-term volatility that consular costs could suffer and stabilize the fees for a longer period.
The increase in consular fees for issuing non-immigrant visas has been under discussion since the formal proposal was submitted on December 29, 2021 (to access the original text of the formal proposal click here – https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/12/29/2021-28010/schedule-of-fees-for-consular-services-nonimmigrant-and-special-visa-fees) and was approved and published on March 28, 2023.
Which visas will have the consular fee adjusted?
Only non-immigrant visas, i.e. those that are granted for a fixed term, will suffer the consular fee adjustment. These are:
a. Business or tourism visitor visas (B1/B2s and Border Crossing Card), student visas (F or M) and exchange visitor (J) and other non-immigrant visas not based on petition, will increase from US$ 160 to US$ 185.
b. Petition-based visas for temporary workers (H, L, O, P, Q and R) will increase from $190 to $205.
c. Visas for treaty trader, treaty investor and treaty applicant in a specialized occupation (E), will increase from $205 to $315.
Applicants who have already paid a currently valid and unexpired visa application fee, but who have not yet appeared for their visa interview or are waiting for their case to be processed, will not be charged additional fees. Please note that the fee paid is valid for 12 months.
For whom is it worth anticipating consular application to take advantage of consular fees before adjustment?
For non-immigrant visa holders with an upcoming expiration date and who are interested and have the possibility of renewing their visa, it may be interesting to anticipate the payment of the consular fee to take advantage of the rate before the adjustment. It is important to talk to an immigration attorney to evaluate if in your specific case it makes sense and is feasible to anticipate the application to take advantage of the rate before the adjustment.
It is important to note that only the consular fees for non-immigrant visas will be adjusted (requested through the DS-160 form), and there is no formalization yet regarding the adjustment of immigrant visa fees (requested through the DS-260 form). There is also no impact of this adjustment on the application fees for the petition for temporary workers (Form I-129, before the USCIS).
To access the official DOS announcement click here (https://www.state.gov/publication-of-final-rule-on-nonimmigrant-visa-fee-increases/).
Written by Fabiana Guerra, Partner at Drummond Advisors