The current administration has proposed a fee increase on most nonimmigrant visas. This fee was proposed to make the fees closer to the cost of providing the visas. However, critics of the fees are concerned that unless the administration does something to improve visa wait times that these fees might mean a further reduction in travelers and students coming to the U.S.
If the fee increases are approved, the State Department expects price increases should take effect by September. The state department is accepting comments about the potential price increases until the end of February.
Some immigration advocates are concerned that if the prices increase but the service does not improve, there could be a decrease in travel to the United States.
In 2020, the State Department temporarily stopped providing routine visa services at U.S. consulates and embassies due to restrictions put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These embassies and consulates are being slowly reopened; however, approximately ¼ of these are only partly reopened or still fully closed.
United States consulates around the world are an important part of the U.S. Immigration system. These consulates process the visas that allow travel to the United States. However, many of these consulates are still closed. Additionally, some of the consulates that have reopened have long waiting times. In some places, these wait times are over a year.
Nonimmigrant visas permit those individuals holding them to come to the United States as a tourist or to work or study for a temporary period of time under certain conditions.
If the price increases take effect, student visas, F, M, and J, along with visa applications for tourism, B1 and B2, will have their prices increase 54%, from $160 to $245. Whereas the H, L, O, P, Q, and R employment-based visas, will have their price increased 63% from $190 to $310.
A spokesman for the state department stated that funding for consular operations comes mostly from fees for the services it provides. The increase in fees is intended to ensure that the agency recovers all of the costs it incurs for providing its services. The proposed fee schedule is based on the actual cost of the service along with demand projections.
Some people do not think that the increased fees will have a significant impact. An international student career expert in Washington said, “This is not going to have any meaningful impact on [student] enrollment or on [employment-based visas]. This will not have any meaningful impact on the desire of companies to hire talent outside the U.S.”
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