Department of State Updates Visa Reciprocity Schedule; Significant Increase in Nonimmigrant Visa Fe

On December 23, 2019, the Department of State (“DOS”) revised the visa reciprocity schedule for Australian citizens without any public notice or announcement. The significant changes reflect dramatic increases to the visa fees for the H, L, and E nonimmigrant visa categories, which were previously $105 each. In addition, the visa validity period for L-1 and L-2 visas was reduced from 60 months to 48 months. Please note that the E-3 visa category was not affected by the recent revisions.

Effective December 23, 2019, the changes to the visa reciprocity schedule for Australian citizens include:

* For Blanket L visas, the $500 Fraud Prevention and Detection fee will be deducted from the reciprocity fee.

What Is Reciprocity?

Nonimmigrant visa applicants from certain countries are subject to pay additional fees for visa issuance. These fees are based on the principle of reciprocity, where the United States will impose a reciprocal fee and limit on validity period on citizens of that country when a foreign government imposes fees on U.S. citizens for similar types of visas. The U.S. reciprocal fees can increase or decrease to match the other country’s visa regime.

The reciprocity fee is the visa issuance fee that is paid after the nonimmigrant visa application has been approved at the U.S. consular post abroad. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee) that is paid before the interview. The MRV fees range between $160-$205 per person depending on visa type. The validity period is the period of time the nonimmigrant visa stamp in the passport may be used for travel.

Why Is the DOS Revising the Reciprocity Schedule?

Changes to the reciprocity schedule are pursuant to Executive Order 13780, which was signed by President Trump in March 2017. The Executive Order requires the Department of State (“DOS”) to undertake a worldwide review of nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements and arrangements. Under U.S. law, U.S. visa fees and validity periods are to be based on the treatment afforded to U.S. citizens when applying for visas to other countries. In the case of Australia, the DOS discovered discrepancies between Australia’s visa regime and the United States, and that given the Australia’s inability to change its visa regime, it was required by law to match the fees and limits imposed by Australia on U.S. citizens for similar visa categories.

Recent Changes to the Reciprocity Schedule for Other Countries

In late 2019, the DOS updated the Visa Reciprocity Schedule to reflect changes to the fees and validity periods for nonimmigrant visas for certain countries such as France, Chile, Belgium, Norway, Taiwan, Brazil, and Austria. As we previously announced our Business News Update, the DOS revised the validity period for E-1 and E-2 visas for French citizens to be 25 months, effective November 12, 2019, and decreased the validity for L visas to 17 months. The prior validity period for both E and L visas for French citizens was 5 years.

Below are some of the recent changes to the reciprocity schedule that went into effect in December 2019. You can follow the reciprocity fees per country at the DOS website.

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