Beginning May 30, 2023, the U.S. State Department is set to raise fees for non-immigrants who are consular processing at U.S. embassies abroad, and for certain special visas.
Although we just posted recently about the proposed USCIS petition fee increases, the State Department operates on a separate budget from USCIS, and its new fee announcement affects the National Visa Center (NVC) processing, which is the overseas step after certain USCIS petitions are approved.
What Fee Increase Changes May Take Place?
The State Department is setting the following fee changes:
- The application processing fee for non-petition based NonImmigrant Visas (except E category), will be raised from $160 to $185.
- The application processing fee for H, L, O, P, Q, and R category NonImmigrant Visas, will be raised from $190 to $205.
- The processing fee for the Border Crossing Cards for Mexican citizens age 15 and over will be raised from $160 to $185.
- The fee for E category NonImmigrant Visas will be raised from $205 to $315.
Although the State Department had previously proposed increasing the fee for the exchange visitor waiver of two-year residency to $510, its cost will be maintained at $120.
There was a comment period last year where the public was allowed and encouraged to post comments regarding the above proposed fee changes. Some of these comments indicated that “the commenter would gladly pay an increased fee for faster service (i.e., decreased wait times), but did not support fee increases to obtain the same level of service currently provided.”
USCIS and the State Department's consular services have been notoriously backlogged these past few years, and after reading the public comments the Federal Government felt the need to address that comment worry. It made this statement regarding those comments:
As worldwide restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic ease, the Department is focused on reducing wait times for all consular services at our embassies and consulates overseas while also protecting the health and safety of our staff and applicants when they come to embassy or consular premises. Although local conditions and restrictions at individual consular posts may continue to fluctuate, embassies and consulates have broad discretion to determine how to prioritize visa appointments among the ranges of visa classes as safely as possible, subject to local conditions and restrictions.
Although the statement is quite broad and does not commit the State Department to any specific changes, we are glad that the government is recognizing how frustrated the public is with the current system. We can only hope (and continue to publicly comment on proposed changes) that with increased fees there will be increased staffing at consular offices.
If you have questions about applying for a U.S. visa for you or a loved one, please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.