Visa Processing Fees to Change on April 13, 2012

April 03, 2012

The U.S. Department of State has announced that, effective April 13, 2012, fees charged for nonimmigrant and immigrant visa applications will be adjusted. See Press Release. Most nonimmigrant visa fees will go up, whereas all immigrant visa fees will go down. As an example, the visa processing fees for H-1B and L-1 visas will increase from $150 to $190. The Department of State attributes the higher fees for H-1B, L-1 and E-2 visas to the fact that these visa applications require more intensive review.

For most employment-based nonimmigrant visas, visa processing is a two-step process as follows.

  • First, the employer files a petition stateside with USCIS requesting the appropriate visa classification for the alien, such as an H-1B or L-1 petition.
  • Second, assuming the alien is abroad and not changing immigration status in the U.S., after the employer’s petition is approved, the alien takes evidence of the petition approval and applies at a U.S. Consulate abroad for a visa stamp in their passport.

Canadian citizens are generally exempt from the nonimmigrant visa process, although there are some nonimmigrant visa classifications (i.e. E-2, K-1, etc.) that require even Canadian citizens to secure visas at the U.S. Embassy in Montreal.

Notably, for employment-based immigrant visas, the fee is dropping from $720 to $405. While that is not much in the grand scheme of things, it is always a welcome development when fees decrease.

The listed fees are for processing done by the U.S. Department of State, either at the National Visa Center in New Hampshire or at the various U.S. Consulates abroad, and are generally paid by applicants for visas at the time they apply. Fees for preliminary petitions filed by employers with USCIS, such as H-1B petitions, are not affected.

Please contact Matt Raynes at our Bangor, Maine office with questions.

This alert is provided as general information, and is not a substitute for legal or other professional advice.


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