The US has maintained its status as the largest travel and tourism economy in the world, according to the 2018 statistics released by the World Travel and Tourism Council. This is well reflected in the fact that 80 million people visited the country in 2018 alone. If you too are planning a trip to the United States for leisure, employment, education or any other purpose, here are the different types of visas and their fees that you should know about.
US Tourist and Business Visa Fees
The United States allows individuals to visit the country for leisure, including visiting relatives and friends and getting medical treatment. The visa applicable for such trips is the B2 visa. You can also visit the country for business purposes, such as the settlement of disputes, negotiation of contracts and attending conferences. In this case, you will need to apply for a B1 visa.
Most of the times, both types of tourist visas are combined and issued as the B1/B2 visa.
Fees for B1/B2 Visit Visa
You need to pay an application form fee of $160, payable in your domestic currency. After you make a successful payment, you will receive a fee payment receipt. This should be kept safe, since you will need it to schedule appointments at the Visa Application Centre (VAC) and the US consulate.
Don’t forget to get insurance.
It is recommended that you get travel insurance when traveling to USA, as medical expense (even for common flu) can run into hundreds of dollars! Here are some of the best insurance for US visitors.
Remember that the visa fee will not be refunded in case your application is rejected. Also, if you make any errors during payment or feel that the payment wasn’t successful, don’t pay it again, since it won’t be refunded.
Employment and Training Visa
People who are hired by a US-based company to work in America can enter the country and work for a temporary duration. For this, they will need to obtain a work visa, which is relevant to the nature of their work.
To Work in a Specialized Role
In case you get a job related to technology, science, engineering or mathematics, you need to get an H1-B work visa. Individuals who apply for this visa type should have at least a Bachelor’s degree in the specific specialty and should display the ability to provide the required services.
Applying for an H1-B visa is by no means inexpensive. Fortunately, you don’t have to bear most of the costs, since your employer will sponsor your application. The various types of H1B processing fees are as follows:
- A base filing fee of $300
- Application fee of $190
- Fraud prevention and detection fee worth $500
- ACWIA fee of $750 for employers having up to 25 full-time employees
- ACWIA fee of $1,500 for employers having more than 25 full-time employees
- An optional premium processing fee of $1,225
Other than the application and premium processing fees, you are not responsible for paying any other fee. In case you do choose the premium option, your company will need to show that your choice was personal and does not benefit them in any way.
For Training in the US
For people accepted in a vocational or any other training program in the US, an H-3 visa is applicable. The maximum duration for an admissible program is 2 years. The application fee for this visa is $190.
Individuals with extraordinary ability in athletics, arts, business or science can apply for the O visa. The application fee for this visa type is $190, since this is also a petition-based visa. The O visa is also applicable to people with achievements in the field of motion pictures and television.
The US also offers a Q visa that is applicable to people who wish to visit the US to take part in a global cultural program. Artists, entertainers or support staff who want to perform in the United States need to apply for the P visa. Both the Q and P visas have an associated visa application fee of $190.
Visa for Educational Purposes
For people who are accepted by a school or college for an academic program, the M-1 and F-1 visas are applicable. But you can only apply for the relevant visa after getting Form I-20 from the concerned institution.
This is the Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status. After 120 days of the start date given in Form I-20, you can apply for the student visa. Also, within 30 days of this date, you can travel to the US, once you have the required visa.
The M-1 visa is for individuals wanting to get non-academic or vocational training in the US. This visa allows you to get enrolled in a public secondary or elementary school. In case the program you wish to pursue is academic in nature or is an English language program, you need the F-1 visa. This visa is also applicable for programs involving more than 18 hours of study.
The application fee for both M-1 and F-1 visa types is $160, payable in your local currency.
Remember that if you leave the US for a break of more than 5 months, your student visa status will get revoked. The only exemption is in case the activity during the time off is related to the educational/training program.
Other Types of Fees
Based on your visa type, there may be additional fees that need to be paid to the US Consulate, Embassy, Department of Homeland Security or the National Visa Centre.
Non-Immigrant Visa Issuance Reciprocity Fees
Visa applicants from some countries may need to pay this fee after their application gets approved. This is called a reciprocity fee, since it is applicable to foreign nationals whose countries impose a similar fee on US citizens for some types of visas. You can get more information about reciprocity fees on the US Department of State website. This will help you to know whether the issuance fee applies to your country and the exact amount to be paid.
This stands for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is an online system that helps to track J, F and M visa participants and their families from the start of initial documentation until they receive their diploma or degree and complete the program.
Make sure to contact your school or university in the US to know whether your information has been registered with SEVIS. If yes, you will have to pay an additional SEVIS fee, also known as the I-901 fee.
In the case of non-immigrant students with Form I-20, the fee is $200. For exchange students, the SEVIS fee is $180. This fee cannot be paid at the Consulate or Embassy. Exceptions to the SEVIS fee are visa applicants taking part in US government sponsored events, the codes for which start with G-1, G-2, G-3 or G-7.
Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee
People applying for the Blanket L visa are required to pay this fee at the cashier window of the consulate, on the day of their visa interview. The fee amount is $500. In case another L-1 visa is applied for on a new Form I-129S, this fee needs to be paid again.
Blanket L-1 applications from petitioners with have more than 50 employees in the US, more than half of those in H-1B or L visa, need to pay a biometric entry-exit fee of $4,500. Remember that the Blanket L fee is non-refundable. Also, L-2 derivative applicants do not have to pay this additional fee.
These additional fees can be paid either in the form of a demand draft in favour of the “American Consulate General” or visa credit card. Keep in mind that debit cards and checks are not allowed.
Visa Types and Scenarios That Don’t Involve Any Fee
- NATO, A, C-2, C-3, G and diplomatic visas (as given in 22 CFR 41.26)
- J visas and for applicants taking part in US-sponsored educational and cultural events.
- Individuals who are exempted under international agreements, staff and members (including their immediate families) of a mission to the UN headquarters that is recognized by the General Assembly
- People going to the US for charitable purposes
- Employees of the US government making an official business trip
- Parents, siblings, spouse or children of a US government employee killed in the line of duty, who are travelling to attend the funeral/burial or to visit an injured person.
- For replacement of a Machine Readable Visa within one year of issuance, if the original visa wasn’t properly affixed or needs to be reissued, without any fault of the individual.
From September 1, 2015, the Reserve Bank of India has issued instructions to all Indian banks to stay closed on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month. So, any type of US visa fee payment through NEFT, IMPS, mobile banking or at a branch will not be possible on these days. This is also applicable for designated bank holidays.
The fees can be paid in the domestic currency and the consulate has an independent exchange rate for it. So, check this rate before making the payment.
Remember that the visa application fee is non-transferable and non-refundable. After successful payment, you have a window of one year from the date of payment to schedule your visa interview. In case you are unable to fix an appointment within this duration, your payment receipt will expire. Thereafter, you will need to make the payment once again and restart the process.