U.S. visa costs

What are the current visa application fees?

Anyone applying for a U.S. visa must pay application fees to the U.S. authorities. The costs for a U.S. visa vary depending on the visa category applied for. We have summarized below how high the visa fees for the United States are in detail and when they have to be paid. We also inform you about the very extensive fee adjustments planned by the USCIS.
If you need assistance with your visa application, please contact us for an individual offer.

 

Comprehensive fee adjustments planned

On November 14, 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services launched a new rule that involves far-reaching adjustments to their application fees. The Proposed Rule entitled  "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements" is 314 pages long. Unfortunately, applicants must be prepared for sometimes hefty fee increases. We summarize below which fees are affected in detail focusing on companies and their employees.

Planned measures

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proposing various measures to ensure that its activities continue to be cost-covering and more efficient in the future. The following changes are currently under discussion, which are not limited to a mere adjustment of fees. However, their exact implementation has not yet been finally determined.

  1. General increase in application fees
    Fees will increase significantly, e.g. for L-1 applications from $ 460 to $ 815 and for a General Work Permit EAD from $ 410 to $ 490, and only very few fees will effectively decrease (including e.g. I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien from $ 700 to $ 545).
  2. Splitting of form I-129
    Until now, the I-129 was valid for all work visas (L, H, O etc.). This is to be split into different forms; e.g. I-129L, I-129H-1B, I-129H-2B, I-129O etc. Depending on the form or category, different fees will then apply.
  3. Separate query for L-applications
    In the I-129L form, the information for L-1A Managers, L-1A Executives and L-1B Specialists should be requested separately.
  4. New calculation of the processing time for the Premium Processing Service
    The processing time will in future be calculated in working days (instead of calendar days as it is currently the case). Applicants must therefore be prepared for longer waiting times.
  5. Stricter access requirements for exceptions
    Fee waivers for people on low incomes will be more strictly applied.
  6. Discontinuation of benefits
    Reduced fee rates are partly abolished, e.g. in status adjustment procedures. While the fees for the I-485 procedure will be reduced from $ 1,140 to $ 1,120, among other things, discounts for minors under 14 years of age in the same application (previously $ 750) and the simultaneous application of an EAD free of charge (additional costs then $ 490) will be eliminated.
  7. Fee for asylum applications
    There are very few countries worldwide that apply a fee for asylum applications. The USCIS is planning a fee of $ 50.
  8. Separate collection of the biometrics fee no longer applies
    The previously additional biometrics fee of currently $ 85 for certain applications will be "priced in" into the new standard fees.

Currently, there are different calculations and scenarios. It remains to be seen which measures will be implemented.

Time frame

The exact date of implementation of the planned adjustments to the USCIS fees has not yet been finalised. Although the adjustments were planned for a period of ten years, the first changes could take place as early as next year.

Our conclusion

The planned (significant) fee increases are bad news for many applicants due to the already generally very expensive application procedures. It is to be hoped that the reduction of processing times and the improvement of the efficiency of the application process, combined with an increase in personnel, will contribute to an improvement of the application situation.

For example, splitting the I-129 forms into categories (I-129L, I-129O, etc.) is useful, as this is easier for applicants to understand and ultimately minimises sources of error. Instead of the current general I-129 processing instructions, there would also be category specific instructions. The USCIS hopes that this will lead to fewer rejections in the intaking process.

A more explicit request in the I-129L for L-1A Managers, L-1A Executives and L-1B Specialized Knowledge would also be useful to underline this clear separation in the L-1A.

Whether the new calculation (business days instead of calendar days) for Premium Processing will lead to fewer requests from the U.S. authorities is difficult to assess. The significant increase in the RFE (Request for Evidence) rate in USCIS application procedures in recent years is not only due to a stricter interpretation of the law, but is also seen in connection with the high workload of USCIS officials.

Finally, the fact that the biometrics fee (which exists, for example, for I-539 status renewal applications) is to be included as standard in the application fees can help to minimise sources of error.

Backgrounds to the fee adjustments

The last general fee increase of the USCIS took place in 2016. Since the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is primarily financed by application fees, severe losses of an estimated $ 1,262.3 million are expected if the USCIS continues to operate in its current form. In addition, U.S. President Donald Trump is planning to reallocate the budget to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).

The following measures are considered necessary in order to be able to cover costs in the future:

  • An average 21% increase in USCIS fees
  • Introduction of further fees
  • Abolition of fee exemptions
  • Increasing the effectiveness of petitions, e.g. by limiting the number of petitioners per petition submitted

Basic information about visa USA costs

All US visa applicants are required to pay a visa fee to the U.S. authorities. But how much does a visa for the USA cost? The answer is: it all depends. How much the application fee is and when it has to be paid always depends on the type of visa applied for. For nonimmigrant visas and immigrant visas the U.S. authorities charge different costs. Before you apply for a visa, you should therefore find out exactly which U.S. authority charges which processing fees.

Consular fee

The visa fee is also called the consular fee or application fee and is officialy known as the "MRV (Machine Readable Visa) Fee". The consular processing fee is obligatory with every visa application. Only after payment of the visa fee is it possible to arrange a consular interview appointment at the U.S. consulate.

Please note that visa fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. If the visa application is withdrawn or the U.S. visa is refused, the applicant will not get a refund. Furthermore, the visa fee is not transferable to other persons, such as family members or coworkers.

Amount of the consular fee

The amount of the visa fee depends on the visa category applied for. This means that depending on the visa category there are sometimes different visa fees.
Since June 4, 2010, the formerly uniform application fees for nonimmigrant visas have been staggered according to the respective visa category in order to take into account the varying effort and costs involved. This fee structure has since been applied at all U.S. consulates worldwide.

Although the visa fees are officially quoted in U.S. dollars, payment is made in the respective national currency. Visa fees are therefore subject to regular exchange rate fluctuations which means that fees are often reduced or increased.

The current Euro-Dollar exchange rate of the U.S. consulates (= consular exchange rate) is 0.95 Euro to 1 US-Dollar.

The current consular application fees for US non-immigrant visas are as follows:

Nonimmigrant visa categories
(in alphabetical order)
U.S. visa fee
in U.S. dollars
B visas (Business Visitor / Tourist) $ 160
C-1D visas (Crew Members / Transit) $ 160
E visas (Trader / Investor) $ 205
F visas (Students) $ 160
H visas (Specialised Professionals) $ 190
I visas (Journalists / Media Representatives) $ 160
J visas (Exchange Visitors) $ 160
K visas (Fiancée) $ 265
L visas (Intra-company Transfer) $ 190
M visas (Vocational Training) $ 160
O visas (Individuals with exceptional abilities)  $ 190
P visas (Athletes) $ 190


(January 2020)

The current consular application fees for U.S. immigrant visas are as follows:

Immigrant visa categories
(in alphabetical order)
Fee
in U.S. dollars
EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 and EB-5 visas (Employment-based categories) $ 345
Family Preference visas (First Preference (F1), Second Preference (F2), Third Preference (F3), Fourth Preference (F4)) $ 325
Diversity visas (DV) $ 330


(January 2020)

Payment methods

The visa fee can be paid at U.S. consulates worldwide through various options. The following payment options are available:

  • online bank transfer
  • debit card
  • credit card
  • immediate bank transfer
  • cash deposit with a bank

Please note: In some countries payment cannot be made by credit card or EC card.

 

 


When paying, all instructions should be followed exactly so that the payment is registered quickly. In particular, the reference number should always be noted in the subject line, otherwise there may be delays in processing. In the worst case, the visa fee may have to be paid again.

Validity of the consular fee

After paying the visa fee, you will receive a payment receipt that is valid for one year. The visa fee is therefore valid for one year from the date of payment. During this period, you should arrange an interview appointment at a U.S. consulate or embassy, as the visa fee would be due again after the twelve months.

Other fees in consular processing

In addition to the consular application fee described above, there are other visa fees in the consular process.

1. Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee

The Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee is payable within the scope of L-Blanket visa applications. This fee can only be paid by

  • credit card or
  • cash

during the interview appointment at the U.S. consulate. Currently, this fee is $ 500.

Practical tip: We strongly recommend the use of a credit card.

 

 

2. Reciprocity Fee

The Reciprocity Fee is based on the system of state reciprocity. If, for example, American citizens have to pay an additional fee for a visitor visa to China, this also applies to Chinese citizens when applying for the corresponding U.S. visa. The Reciprocity Fee only applies to applicants of certain nationalities and the amount also varies by nationality and visa category.

You can find out in advance whether a fee applies to you by visiting the U.S. State Department website.

This fee must also be paid by

  • credit card or
  • cash

in person at the U.S. consulate.

3. SEVIS fee

The SEVIS fee is payable when applying for F, J or M visas and varies depending on the visa category. Applicants must pay the SEVIS fee before their consular interview appointment. Payment is made online by credit card.

The payment receipt must be enclosed with the consular application, otherwise the application will not be processed.

USCIS fees

Many U.S. visas require a prior application procedure with the USCIS. This means that, depending on the category, a petition may have to be submitted there in advance. This applies, for example, to almost all U.S. work visa applications (L, H, O etc.).

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services charges different application fees depending on the petition. Some fees are mandatory for every applicant (e.g. USCIS Standard Fee), while other fees are optional (e.g. Premium Processing Fee).

USCIS Standard Fees

The most important USCIS fees are listed below:

Category USCIS fee in U.S. dollars
I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) $ 460
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker $ 700
I-539 Application to Extend / Change Nonimmigrant Status $ 370
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization $ 410
USCIS Immigrant Fee $ 220


(January 2020)

Premium Processing Fee

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has increased the fee for the use of the Premium Processing Service from $ 1,410 to $ 1,440 since December 2, 2019. Only I-129 applications (e.g. L, H-1B and O visas) and I-140 applications (Employment-based Green Cards) are affected.

Category USCIS fee in U.S. dollars
I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service $ 1,440


(January 2020)

The Premium Processing Service guarantees that the petition will be processed within 15 working days. Unfortunately, this does not automatically mean that the USCIS will make a decision on the petition within 15 days. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has the option of making Requests For Evidence (RFE) within this period, which can significantly increase the processing time.

Practical tip: We assume that all applications that show the wrong fee will be returned unprocessed.

Border Security Fee

The USCIS had suspended this additional fee for H-1B and L-1 applications on October 1, 2015, but reintroduced it by law on December 18, 2015 under the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2016. This additional H-1B and L-1 application fee for U.S. companies with an exceptional number of foreign employees with H-1B or L-1 status is valid until September 30, 2025.

The additional application fee does not apply to every H-1B or L-1 application, but must be paid exclusively by so-called "50/50" employers. The criteria are as follows:

  1. employment of more than 50 employees in the United States and
  2. more than 50% of the workforce in the United States consists of foreign employees with H-1B, L-1A or L-1B visas
Category USCIS fee in U.S. dollars
H-1B Border Security Fee $ 4,000
L-1 Border Security Fee $ 4,500


(January 2020)

In the course of the reintroduction, the additional fees were doubled: Since then, the Combined Filing Fee And Fraud Prevention And Detection Fee has resulted in massive additional costs for affected U.S. employers – even for renewal applications. Prior to the three-month abolition, the fees were only $ 2,000 (H-1B) or $ 2,250 (L-1) per application.

A complete list of all USCIS application fees can be found on the USCIS website.

Payment methods

Payment of the USCIS fees is usually made by cheque or money order, which must then be enclosed with the respective application. Only very few fees (not including the fees mentioned above) can already be paid by credit card in the online procedure.

Practical tip: Pay attention to the instructions of the USCIS regarding the respective cheque or money order. Incorrectly submitted cheques or money orders will result in the application not being accepted. These petitions will be returned to the applicant unprocessed.

Handling fees US Visa Service

In addition to the application fees of the U.S. authorities, translation costs, etc., a consulting and processing fee is charged when you commission our US visa agency.

Depending on the visa category, we charge a fixed service fee while taking into account the different processing costs. The simpler the processing of a visa category, the more affordable the support from our U.S. visa consultants.

On request, we can offer you advice and processing on an hourly basis. In particularly urgent visa cases, we can also arrange express processing for you for an additional fee.

Request an individual quote now