AFPPrice of visa to US goes upWASHINGTON (AFP) — The US State Department announced Thursday it was raising the price of most visas for foreign visitors to the United States by more than 30 percent.How much more than 30 percent?
The move is aimed at helping pay for increased security measures for visitors, especially costs relating to the finger-printing of foreign visitors, the department said in a statement.
Starting January 1 the price of a tourism, business, student or temporary employment visa goes up from 100 to 131 dollars, the statement said.
Ah. I see. One percent more than 30 percent.
The 100 dollar fee "was already lower than the cost of processing non-immigrant visas when the fee was reviewed as a part of the cost of service study in 2004," it said.
It added that the State Department "has been absorbing the additional cost."US officials "are now collecting 10 fingerprints from each applicant, and the cost charged by the FBI to review those fingerprints no longer allows us to do this."When I reflect on it, it never fails to amaze me that the FBI get to charge the State Department for the privilege of collecting and contributing to the FBI's fingerprint database.US immigration officials began recently taking prints from all of the visitor's fingers at the Dulles-Washington International Airport, just outside the US capital.The measure is part of the US-VISIT program, adopted after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States. The program is scheduled to be fully implemented in all US international airports by the end of 2008.
The price of a US visa has gone up twice since September 11, the last time in 2002, the statement read.In 2002, the application fee for a non-immigrant visa was raised twice. First, it was raised from $40 to $60 (an increase of 50 percent) and then from $60 to $100 (an increase of 66.6 percent); which means that in one year the fee was raised 150 percent. Percentage-wise, this increase is lower than either of the two previous increases and in terms of the dollar amount, is in the middle of the three increases.Residents of some 30 nations -- including most European nations, Australia, Japan and Singapore -- do not need visas to travel to the United States.Most citizens (as opposed to residents) of some 30 countries are eligible to take advantage of the visa waiver program. Some individuals with passports from those countries are not themselves eligible to take advantage of the privilege due to peronal visa ineligibilities that they have incurred individually.Requests for visas filed before January 1 shall be honored at the previous price of 100 dollars only if the candidates go in person to their respective US consulates before January 31.
After then, those requesting visas must pay the extra 31 dollars even if they filed the request before January 1, the State Department said.
Tourism experts say the number of foreigners coming to visit the United States has not recovered since the 2001 attacks.Tourism experts, in the employ of the tourism industry, like to trumpet that inaccuracy as a club with which to beat DHS and the State Department into relaxing their enforcement and compliance with immigration laws and regulations. In fact, international travel to the U.S. is back above pre-9/11 levels, or so I've been told personally by very senior officials who are in a position to know. Similarly, international student numbers are back above pre-9/11 levels as well, so the higher education industry gets to ease back off the rhetoric as well.