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U.S. Department of State to Increase Machine Readable Visa (MRV) Fee for U.S. Nonimmigrant Visas

April 3, 2012

Effective April 13, 2012, the Department of State will increase the Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) application fee for most nonimmigrant visas from $140 to $160.  

The MRV fee increases will ensure sufficient resources to cover the increasing cost of processing nonimmigrant visas (NIVs).  The Department of State last increased the MRV fee from $131 to $140 in 2010.  Due to ongoing process and security enhancements, the $140 fee is now lower than the current, actual cost of processing nonimmigrant visas.

Applicants for B1/B2 tourist and business visitor visas, all student (F) and exchange-visitor (J) visas, and several other categories of non-petition based visas will pay an application fee of $160.

Applicants for petition-based visas will pay an application fee of $190.  Petition-based categories include:

  • H visa for temporary workers and trainees
  • L visa for intracompany transferees
  • O visa for aliens with extraordinary ability
  • P visa for athletes, artists and entertainers
  • Q visa for international cultural exchange visitors
  • R visa for religious occupations

Petition-based visa applications require more extensive documentation and in-depth interviews than other categories of nonimmigrant visas.

Receipts for MRV fees in the amount of $140 will be valid for 90 days from the effective date of the new fee schedule, which is April 13.  A visa applicant paying MRV fees from now through April 12 may use the $140 receipt without additional payment through July 12.

After July 12, applicants may still use $140 receipts but will be required to pay an additional $20 to make up the difference between the old fee and the new fee. 

Certain categories of nonimmigrant visa application fees will decrease on April 13: 

  • The application fee for K visas for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens will decrease from $350 to $240;
  • The fee for E visas for treaty-traders and treaty-investors will decrease from $390 to $270.

 Please note:  This fee change does not affect visa reciprocity fees, which are calculated based on fees charged by other countries to U.S. citizens.  There are no reciprocity fees for Ukrainian citizens.

The Text of the Official State Department Press Release (English only).

Questions & Answers

Question:  Why is the Department of State increasing the basic nonimmigrant visa application fee to $160 from its current amount of $140?

Answer:  We are required by law to recover the cost of processing nonimmigrant visas through the collection of visa application processing fees, also called Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) fees.  The cost-of-service model is updated annually to determine direct and indirect costs to the U.S. government when providing all consular services, such as nonimmigrant visa processing.

Question:  What if I already paid my fee for an appointment after April 13?

Answer:   For fees that are increasing, receipts for payments made before April 13 will be accepted through July 12.  After July 12 applicants will need to pay an additional amount to make up the difference.  In categories where fees are declining, receipts are valid for the usual one year from the date of issuance.  However, no refunds will be given for those who paid prior to April 13.

Question:  Will this fee increase discourage people from traveling to the United States?

Answer:  The proposed fees accurately reflect the processing costs we incur, and regulations require full cost recovery through fees.  Past increases in nonimmigrant visa fees did not negatively impact the number of applications received worldwide.   The cost is still small compared to the cost of round-trip airfare from most countries to the United States.