State Department Raises Fees for Many Nonimmigrant Visas

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) published an interim final rule on May 20, 2010 that will raise application processing fees for several categories of nonimmigrant visas and adult border crossing cards (BCCs), and for certain Mexican-citizen minors who apply for BCCs.

The fee hikes are based on a recent study of the actual costs to the government for processing the various visa applications that are subject to the new rule. The cost study was done to comply with federal requirements that agencies set fees for official services that cover the government’s cost in providing the service, including services – such as visa processing – that give special benefits to identifiable persons beyond benefits provided to the general public.

The independent cost of service study (CoSS), based on cost data from August 2007 to June 2009, found that the government’s cost to process several categories of visas exceeded the fees charged, which in turn triggered the fee increases. In changing the fee structure, the DOS noted that the current fees only pay 94 percent of the actual costs, thereby burdening the taxpayers with an extra $5.4 million in unmet costs each month – a hard sell in the current economic climate.

Applicants for fiancé/e visas (K visas) will face the largest fee increase, from $131 to $350. DOS explained that “adjudicating a K visa requires a review of extensive documentation and a more in-depth interview of the applicant than other categories of MRVs [machine-readable visas].”

The new consular service fees for nonimmigrant visas and border-cross cards are as follows.

  • non-petition based nonimmigrant visa (except E category), $140, up from $131
  • H, L, O, P, Q, and R category nonimmigrant visa, $150
  • E category nonimmigrant visa, $390
  • K category nonimmigrant visa (fiancé/e visas), $350, up from $131
  • Border crossing card – age 15 and over (valid 10 years) $140, up from $131
  • Border crossing card – under age 15; for Mexican citizens if parent or guardian has or is applying for a border-crossing card (valid 10 years or until the applicant reaches age 15, whichever is sooner), $14, up from $13

The new fees will take effect on June 4, 2010. For 60 days after that, DOS will accept public comments on the interim final rule, and on the cost study that established the basis for the new fees. The DOS will address these comments as it works toward completion of this final rule.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.