As of June 4, 2010, all U.S. Consular Sections worldwide will introduce a two-tiered fee structure for nonimmigrant visas. This structured system coincides with a small global application fee increase, designed to balance the costs of recent enhancements to the visa application process.
All applicants for business or tourism (B-1/B-2), crew member (C-1/D), student (F or M), or exchange (J) categories will now pay $140 and receive a white receipt. Petition-based work visas (H, L, O, P, Q, and R categories) will now pay $150 and receive a green receipt. These two receipts will still be purchased at approved HDFC Bank branches. K (fiancé) applicants will now pay $350 and will continue to pay their fees at the Consular Section.
Applicants who purchased their receipts before June 4 will pay the balance between the old and new fees at the time of the interview. The previous application fee was $131 for all visas.
The Department of State adopted the tiered system because petition-based applications require significantly more processing than other visa applications. The rate increase is for improvements in the manner and speed with which visa applications are processed, and in particular for fraud-detection efforts. The total fee covers the cost of accepting, adjudicating, and issuing nonimmigrant visa applications.
In India alone, the U.S. government has increased consulate staffing by 40% over the last four years, and has invested over $100 million updating and expanding consular facilities. This includes a new consulate opened in Hyderabad, renovations to New Delhi consular facilities and a new consulate building in Mumbai.