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US Visa Costs Rise, Likely to Affect US Citizens as Well

Insider Guides
by Eileen Smith Apr 12, 2012
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.

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