On December 29th of 2021, the Department of State released a proposed rule published in the Federal Register. The rule proposes an increase of nonimmigrant visa fees to better correspond to the government costs associated with processing these visas.
Proposed Increased Nonimmigrant Fees
Among the visas fees proposed to increase are:
- tourist and business visas (B-1 & B-2)
- student and exchange visas (F, M & J)
- crew and transit visas (C and D)
- foreign media representatives (I)
- border crossing card for people ages 15+ (citizens and residents of Mexico)
Non-petition-based nonimmigrant visa (excluding E category)
Corder Crossing Card (15+)
Waiver of J-1 Visa two-year home residency requirement
*Non-petition-based NIV fees are for visas that do not need separate requests (petitions) to be adjudicated before the visa application to determine if the applicant meets the qualifications. For instance, establishing a legitimate relationship with the main petitioner.
Petition-Based Nonimmigrant Visas (NIV)
The proposed rule would increase these from $190 to $310— a 63% fee increase. These include:
- temporary workers and trainees (H Visas)
- intracompany transferees (L Visas)
- aliens of extraordinary ability (O Visas)
- athletes, artists, and entertainers (P Visas)
- international cultural exchange participants (Q Visas)
- religious workers (R Visas)
These categories require more effort from the consular offer than non-petition-based non-immigrant visas because they require an approved petition from USCIS before applying for a visa.
E Visa Fee Increase
E-Visa category fees are proposed to increase to $485 from $205 (137% increase). The E -Visa category includes “treaty traders, treaty investors, and certain nonimmigrant employees of such people (and their spouses and children) who come to the U.S. under a treaty of commerce and navigation between the U.S. and their country of nationality.”
J-Waiver Fee Increase
The J-Waiver fee is proposed to increase from $120 to $510 (325% increase). Select applicants of exchange visitor visas are required to have a two-year home-country physical presence (meaning they must return home for at least two years before they are eligible to apply for another U.S. visa). Individuals can apply for a waiver of this requirement to stay in the U.S. past the end date of their program or to apply to change their visa status.
How Are Fees Determined?
The Department of States determines fees based on a “Cost of Service Model” (COSM). This model considers the government’s cost to process the visa applications. Due to costs rising in nearly every sector, the DOS proposes the rule to cover these costs and the time/ energy required to process complex visas and waivers. If enacted, the fee increase would go into effect before September of 2022.
The Department of State (DOS) must accept public comments for 60 days before the rule can be enacted. Therefore they will be accepting comments until February 28, 2022. Visit the Regulations.gov website at: http://www.regulations.gov and search for the Regulatory Information Number (RIN) 1400-AF33 or docket number DOS-2021-0019.
Email: [email protected]. You must include the RIN (1400-AF33) in the subject line of your message. All comments should include the commenter’s name, the organization the commenter represents (if applicable), and the commenter’s address. If the Department cannot read your comment for any reason and cannot contact you for clarification, the Department may not be able to consider your comment. After the conclusion of the comment period, the Department will publish a Final Rule that will address relevant comments as expeditiously as possible.