On December 14, 2009, the Department of State published a proposed rule to increase the nonimmigrant visa application processing fees. The proposed rule also establishes a tiered structure with separate fees for different visa categories. The Department is proposing the increase to cover the increasing cost of processing nonimmigrant visas. This increase applies to nonimmigrant visas placed in passports. Japan nationals seeking to enter the US now pay the US$131 (~¥11,750) application fee like all other applicants around the world, with no guarantees of actually getting the visas.
The new tiered fee structure was created to cover the higher unit costs for processing certain categories of nonimmigrant visas that are more complicated and require more in-depth consideration than most other categories of nonimmigrant visas. U.S. law requires the Department to attempt to recover the cost of processing nonimmigrant visas through the collection of the application fees. Because of ongoing process and security enhancements, the $131 fee set on January 1, 2008 is lower than the current, actual cost of processing nonimmigrant visas.
Under the proposed rule, applicants for all visas that are not petition-based, including B1/B2 tourist and business visitor visas and all student and exchange visitor visas, would pay a fee of $140 (~¥12,550).
Applicants for petition-based visas would pay an application fee of $150 (~¥13,450). These 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
The application fee for K visas for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens would be $350 (~¥31,380). The fee for E visas for treaty-traders and treaty-investors would be $390 (~¥35,000).
The Department will not begin collecting the new proposed fees until it considers public comments and publishes a final rule. Applicants must start paying the new processing fees once the Department publishes that second, final rule.