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Rising visa prices for visitors to the US is likely to have a trickle-down effect on travelers’ wallets, even US citizens.

The US Department of State recently released a memo stating visa fees for visitors (nonimmigrant visas) to the United States will rise, effective April 13th, 2012. For example, the tourist visa class used to be $140 — it will increase to $160.

The fees are going up due to rising administrative costs, the US government says. I can’t say I exactly believe that, it looks more like a disincentive to applying for the visa, which in addition to the administrative cost, brings with it other costs. For example, in order to get an appointment for the visa interview in Chile, you have to buy the equivalent of a money order which buys you a few minutes on the phone to schedule the appointment. Or on the other hand, maybe it really is terribly expensive to stamp all those papers and reject all those applicants.

Anyway, you may be thinking, what do I care? I’m a US citizen.

Not so fast there, buddy.

What comes around goes around

Many countries base their visa and reciprocity fees for US passport-holders on the fees charged by the US government to their citizens. So if you’re coming to South America, for example, the Bolivian and Brazilian currently cost $140, as do the reciprocity fees for both Chile and Argentina (charged at airports in Santiago and Buenos Aires). These fees have historically risen in tandem with the US visa fees for those countries’ citizens, so you can expect a bit of a bump up in those fees in the coming months as well.

And does the processing cost really go up in those countries in tandem with the processing costs in the United States? Maybe they do. Or maybe the real truth behind reciprocity is more along the lines of that old teasing game we played as kids.

Neener neener. Now fork over an 20 extra bucks or go home.

Trip Planning


About The Author

Eileen Smith

Eileen Smith is the editor of Matador Abroad. She's an ex-Brooklynite who's made a life in Santiago, Chile. She's a fluent Spanish speaker who can be found biking, hiking, writing, photographing and/or seeking good coffee and nibbles at most hours of the day. She blogs here.

  • Beth

    yet another reason to hate America and Americans as if there weren’t already enough reasons.

  • HolcombEddie

    my friend’s mom brought home $21947 the previous week. she been making cash on the internet and got a $521900 condo. All she did was get blessed and put into action the tips leaked on this link >>>

  • bobberwyn

    Overall, there’s a big push to speed up the visa application process for inbound travelers and to expand the visa waiver program. I would imagine the increased fees may help pay for more workers to speed the application and review process. The legislation pending in the Senate would also include some incentives (lower fees) for people able to travel during non-peak times. I know it’s easy to get upset about higher fees for everything, but, geez, people, let’s not knee-jerk before we know all the facts. And Beth, don’t be such a hater of haters … :) Here’s a story about the JOLT Act:

  • Blial

    Although Europe’s in a lot of trouble lately, I feel really lucky that much of Latin America is visa-free for us. 

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