The Cost of Securing a U.S. Visa

The financial requirements for the U.S. visa options available to foreign nationals.

What Is a U.S. Visa?

A U.S. visa is an official, government agency-issued document within a passport allowing the holder to enter and leave the U.S. at the discretion of borders and customs officials.

All U.S. visas are distributed through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the government agency in charge of immigration, to qualifying foreign nationals.

The visa application process can be a lengthy and difficult one, requiring great attention to detail. We recommend that visa applicants work with an experienced immigration law firm.

In this article, we go over the different kinds of U.S. visas available, and the cost entailed for each.

U.S. Visa Application Requirements

When applying for a U.S. visa, the requirements needed depend on visa classification. The most common are the following:

  • Good health.
  • A clean criminal record.
  • Financial stability or sponsorship.
  • A birth certificate or the equivalent.
  • Passport-style photos.
  • Biographical information.

The specific forms needed for filing vary, but the main ones are touched upon in the following visa categories.

Investors with certain circumstances or limitations may be eligible for fee waivers or a fee reduction for some of these visa applications.

In addition, a biometrics fee is usually additional to the filing fee for each form.

Types of U.S. Visas and Their Costs

U.S. Non-Immigrant Visas

Non-immigrant visas are temporary visas that allow a foreign national to enter the U.S. for a designated time and specific purpose, such as tourism, study, or work.

All foreign nationals applying for a visa under the non-immigrant category must file Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application and attend an interview at their local U.S. consulate or embassy.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services requires a non-refundable processing fee for a machine-readable visa (MRV), depending on the visa classification.

Non-Petition-Based Visas

Non-petition-based, non-immigrant visas do not require the sponsorship of a U.S. employer or citizen to apply.

These are the non-immigrant, non-petition-based visa categories:

  • B-1 and B-2 (visitor or business)
  • C-1 (transit)
  • D (ship and airline staff)
  • F1 and F-2 (academic students or their dependents)
  • M1 (vocational students)
  • J1 (exchange visitors)
  • I (journalist or media personnel)
  • T and U (victims of trafficking and crime)
  • TN and TD (NAFTA professionals from Mexico or Canada)
  • Border crossing cards (Mexican citizens over 15)
Cost of Non-Petition-Based Visas

The MRV fee for all non-petition-based visa applicants is $160.

F and M nonimmigrant-visa students must pay an additional fee of $200 to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which ensures adherence to program standards throughout the duration of their stay.

Exchange students holding a J visa are subject to a SEVIS fee of $180.

Petition-Based Visas

Petition-based, non-immigrant visas require the sponsorship of either a U.S. citizen or employer who files on behalf of the foreign national. These categories are:

  • H1B, H1B1, H-2A, H-2B, and H3 (temporary or seasonal workers and trainees)
  • L1 (intracompany executives)
  • O1, O2, and O3 (persons of extraordinary ability and their assistants)
  • P (artists, entertainers, athletes and coaches)
  • Q (International Cultural Exchange)
  • R (religious workers)
  • S (informants or witnesses)

Petition-based visa categories require an MRV processing fee of $190, except S visas for informants or witnesses, which are $160.

L visa applicants must pay a $500 fee for fraud prevention and detection.

E Visas

The E-1 visa is for traders and the E-2 visa is for investors from countries that have existing treaty agreements with the U.S. For a full list of these treaty countries, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website.

Australian nationals possessing professional expertise can apply for an E-3 visa.

The filing fee for initiating the E-2 application process with Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, is $460.

The E-2 investor visa does not have a set minimum requirement for investment, but the recommended amount is at least $100,000.

The MRV processing fee for the E-1, E-2, and E-3 visas is $205.

K Visas

The fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen can obtain a K-category visa.

The requisite MRV fee for a K visa application is $265.

Exemptions for Non-Immigrant U.S. Visa Fees

Applicants are not subject to MRV fees when filing for any of these kinds of temporary visas:

  • A, C-2, C-3, G, and J.
  • Diplomatic or NATO.
  • For international staff, such as U.N. personnel.
  • For U.S. government employees, or the immediate family of deceased U.S. government employees traveling for funeral purposes.
  • Charity reasons.
  • Replacements for incorrectly-stamped visas.

A U.S. Immigrant Visa: How Much Does it Cost?

U.S. immigrant visas, commonly known as green cards, grant lawful permanent residency to a foreign national.

Green cards are particularly valuable because the holder can eventually become a U.S. citizen.

All green card applicants living outside the U.S. must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, after receiving visa approval. The filing fee for Form I-485 is $1,140.

Refugees who submit Form I-485 receive a fee waiver. Moreover, applicants who are 14 or younger or 79 or older receive a fee waiver for the biometrics fee component of the application.

Family-Based Visas

Visas within the family-based categories are for the relatives of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

The spouse and unmarried dependent children of a green card holder or U.S. citizen are eligible to apply for a visa. The siblings, parents, married children, and widow of a U.S. citizen may apply.

The most common family-based application forms are:

  • Form I-130, Immigrant Visa Petition.
  • Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.
  • Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative.

Forms I-130 and I-800 have a biometrics fee component.

Cost of Family-Based Visas

The filing fee for Form I-130 is $535 and is paid by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is applying on behalf of their foreign relative.

The filing fees for Forms I-600 and I-800 are $775 and are paid by a U.S. citizen on behalf of their new dependent.

The processing fee for family-based immigrant visas after petition approval is $325.

Employment-Based Visas

Employment-based visas are a popular choice among foreign nationals who possess exceptional skills, have received an offer of U.S. employment, or wish to invest in a U.S. business.

The EB-1 Through EB-4 Green Cards

EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, and EB-4 visas are for persons of exceptional ability; outstanding teachers and athletes; doctors; skilled and unskilled workers; special immigrant juveniles; religious workers; and victims of crime or abuse.

The application filing fees for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, are $700. Upon approval of Form I-140, the processing fee for an employment-based visa is $345.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

Foreign nationals can obtain a permanent green card by investing in a new commercial enterprise (NCE) in the U.S. through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

The NCE must create 10 full-time jobs over a two-year period. The investor is required to remain involved in managing the NCE, and the EB-5 investment must remain at risk for two years.

The minimum investment for an EB-5 project within a targeted employment area (TEA) is $800,000. (A TEA is a location that is rural or has high unemployment.)

Non-TEA projects require an investment of $1,050,000.

The first visa petition in the EB-5 process, Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, has filing fees of $3,675.

Through the I-526 petition, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services grants investors a two-year green card.

Foreign investors must file Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, to make their green card permanent.

The processing fee for Form I-829 is $3,750.

Going From an E-2 Nonimmigrant Visa to an EB-5 Immigrant Visa

It is possible to apply for an E-2 visa, and then submit a petition to have the E-2 visa case reassigned to an EB-5 visa application.

Temporary E-2 visas require a minimum investment to meet program requirements, but this is a much lower amount than required for EB-5 investment visas.

This allows foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. while preparing to make a larger EB-5 investment.

U.S. Diversity Visa

Every year, the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes 55,000 diversity visas available to foreign nationals in a green card lottery. Diversity visa winners must be from a country with low rates of immigration to the U.S.

To win the green card lottery, an eligible foreign national must first apply. Applications are accepted in November with a fee of $330.

All lottery applicants must check the yearly drawing results online to see if they have won.

U.S. Citizenship

Once a lawful permanent resident (LPR) has held a green card, or immigrant visa, for at least five years, they can apply for naturalization and become a U.S. citizen.

The spouse of a U.S. citizen is eligible to apply after three years of LPR status.

To apply, the permanent resident must file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, with filing fees of $640.

Foreign nationals interested in learning more about how much does it costs to become a US citizen can schedule a meeting with EB5 Affiliate Network (EB5AN).

Form N-400 applicants who are 75 years of age or older receive a fee waiver for the biometrics fee component of the application.

Reciprocity Fees

Reciprocity fees are only for foreign nationals of other countries that charge U.S. citizens a fee when applying for a visa in their country. Check here to find reciprocity fees for each country.

International and U.S. government staff, along with their spouse and children, as well as those applying for charity purposes, are not subject to a reciprocity fee.

It is also worth noting that applicants for several of the visa petitions may be able to obtain a fee waiver or a fee reduction by filing Form I-912.

The HHS federal poverty guidelines can be helpful to I-912 applicants.

These federal poverty guidelines, prepared by a government agency, show what benefits an applicant is eligible for, including waivers or a fee reduction.

Applicants who have carried out military service for the U.S. may also be eligible for a reduced fee or waiver.

The Benefits of a U.S. Visa

Foreign nationals who obtain a U.S. green card will be able to live, work, and study anywhere in the country. Eventually, they will even be able to become a U.S. citizen.

The U.S.’s strong economy, political stability, and variety of career and academic opportunities make it one of the best places to live.

EB5AN is a national EB-5 investment visa organization. We connect EB-5 applicants with low-risk projects that will help them immigrate successfully.

EB5AN also helps investors find a law firm to represent them through the immigration process.

Book a call with an EB5AN to learn more about how much does it costs to get a U.S. visa through an EB5 investment.

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