A Recent Hike in US Non-Immigration Visa Fees: Impact on Foreign Students

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Foreign students wishing to study in the United States will face an additional financial burden as the US government recently increased non-immigrant visa (NIV) fees, including those for students.

The fee increase has sparked a debate about how it will affect Indian students, who are already burdened by high university tuition, housing costs, and other expenses.

In this article, we will look at the new rules, their impact, the reasons for the increase, and the steps taken by the US consulate to assist students.

New Rules on Non-Immigrant Visa Fees

The fee for US visitor visas for business or tourism (B1/B2), as well as other non-petition-based NIVs such as student and exchange visitor visas, will rise from $160 to $185 under the new rules. The raise will take effect on May 20, 2023.

The increase in visa fees has alarmed Indian students, who must now pay more than Rs. 15,000 for their visa applications, up from Rs. 13,000 previously.

Type of VisaOld FeeNew Fee
B1/B2 Visitor visas for business or tourism$160$185
Other non-petition-based NIVs such as student and exchange visitor visas$160$185
H, L, O, P, Q, and R categories (certain petition-based non-immigrant visas for temporary workers)$190$205
Treaty traders, treaty investors, and treaty applicants in a specialty occupation (E category)$205$315

Impact on Foreign Students

The US Consulate General in Mumbai has assured that the move will have little impact because many students have already planned their budgets and other expenses for the Fall 2023 intake.

According to Jessica Doyle, Acting Spokesperson, US Consulate General Mumbai, individuals who have already paid the existing (lower) fee will not be required to pay the difference. The new fee increase, however, is an additional financial burden for students who have yet to apply for their visas.

Reasons Behind the Increase

According to the US State Department, Non-Immigrant visa fees are set based on the actual cost of providing visa services and are determined after a cost-benefit analysis.

The Department calculates the cost of providing consular services, including visa services, using an Activity-Based Costing (ABC) methodology on an annual basis. The fees for the majority of non-petition-based NIVs were last updated in 2012, and the fees for certain other NIVs were last updated in 2014.

Measures Taken by the US Consulate to Help Students

The US Consulate in Mumbai is conducting a student visa session on April 14, 2023, to make students aware of the current visa regime in the US and help them be better prepared. The session is open to those with a valid I-20 form or US university admission letter.

It may be noted that rhe US issued a record 1,25,000 student visas in the fiscal year 2022, with Indian students set to surpass their Chinese peers in the country.

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