9 FAM 403.4
(Office of Origin: CA/VO/L/R)
9 FAM 403.4-1 Statutory and regulatory Authorities
9 FAM 403.4-1(A) Immigration and Nationality Act
INA 281 (8 U.S.C. 1351).
9 FAM 403.4-1(B) Code of Federal Regulations
22 CFR 22.1; 22 CFR 41.107.
9 FAM 403.4-2 Types of Nonimmigrant Visas (NIV) Fees
a. There are Two Types of Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV) Fees:
(1) Application processing fee (also known as the MRV application fee); and
(2) Issuance fee (also known as the reciprocity fee).
b. The application processing fee is not reciprocal and all applicants must pay it regardless of the type of passport held, except as noted 9 FAM 402.3-10(C)(1), 9 FAM 402.3-4(F), and 9 FAM 403.4-3(A). You may not charge an additional MRV fee to applicants refused under INA 221(g) who re-apply within one year of that refusal, or to applicants who receive a replacement MRV because of a defective foil.
9 FAM 403.4-2(A) Machine Readable Visa (MRV) Processing/Application Fee
a. In addition to the fee listed in 9 FAM 403.4-2(B) below, section 140 of Public Law 103-236 authorizes the Secretary of State to collect a surcharge for processing applications for machine-readable nonimmigrant visas (NIV) and machine-readable combined border-crossing cards (BCC). The fee is set forth by regulation at 22 CFR 22.1.
b. For the current non-refundable application processing fee for an MRV, see 22 CFR 22.1. The fee is collected through GSS wherever possible but varies from post to post otherwise; it must be paid separately from the visa reciprocity fee. The reciprocity fee is charged only after visa approval. To determine the visa reciprocity fee, if any, see the specific country information on the Visa Reciprocity Schedule posted on Travel.State.Gov.
c. Charge a single MRV fee for a B1/B2 or a C1/D visa. Also, charge a single MRV fee for applicants applying for both a B1/B2 and a C1/D visa at the same time; in this combination, mark the B1/B2 visa as “no fee” in the NIV system to ensure correct accounting for visa fees collected. In addition, Cuban nationals applying for B-1 and B-2 visas at the same time are also only required to pay one fee. In this case the B-1 visa should be marked as “no fee.” Please note that these are the only combinations of visa classes that do not require more than one fee. All other combinations require a fee for each category. For any other multiple visa combinations requiring two or more MRV foils for one applicant, you must collect two or more MRV fees, as appropriate. For example, an application for a B-2 and a F-1 visa at the same time requires payment of two MRV fees.
d. Open Cases and Fee Payment: While GSS provides off-site fee payment wherever possible, there are a variety of off-site fee payment procedures. (See 7 FAH-1 H-263.9.) All applicants, however, should be able to demonstrate that they have paid the required fee(s). Cases should not be kept open in the NIV database merely to flag a case as "fee paid" if the case is inactive.
9 FAM 403.4-2(B) Issuance Fees
The reciprocity fee to be collected for the issuance of a nonimmigrant visa (NIV) is prescribed in the appropriate country-specific reciprocity schedule. To determine the visa reciprocity fee, if any, see the specific country information on the Visa Reciprocity Schedule posted on CAWeb. These schedules, required by INA 221(c) and INA 281, are based upon the treatment accorded U.S. citizens by the governments of the countries concerned and apply to nationals, permanent residents, refugees, and stateless residents of those countries.
See 9 FAM 403.9-4(D) paragraph b(2) for situations in which double reciprocity fees are prescribed.
9 FAM 403.4-3 Exceptions to Visa Fees
9 FAM 403.4-3(A) Exceptions to Machine Readable Visa (MRV) Processing Fee Requirement
The following categories of visas are exempt from the MRV application processing fee (see 9 FAM 403.4-3(B) below for waiver of visa issuance fees):
(5) All diplomatic type visas;
(6) Applicants for “J” visas participating in official U.S. Government-sponsored educational and cultural exchanges;
(7) Replacement Machine-Readable Visa when the original visa was not properly affixed or needs to be reissued through no fault of the applicant;
(8) Replacement Machine-Readable Visa to correct errors made by consular staff in the visa data, up to one year from the visa’s original date of issuance and only for the remaining validity of the original visa. After one year, the applicant must apply for a new visa, submitting the appropriate fee and application, and scheduling a new interview (if required);
(9) A parent, sibling, spouse, or child of a U.S. Government employee killed in the line of duty who is traveling to attend the employee’s funeral and/or burial; or a parent, sibling, spouse, son, or daughter of a U.S. Government employee critically injured in the line of duty, for visitation during emergency treatment and convalescence;
(10) U.S. Government Employees Traveling on Official Business: When post is issuing a nonimmigrant visa (NIV) to a locally employed staff member (LE staff) solely for official travel, MRV and reciprocity fees (if any) may be waived provided that the LE staff applicant is issued a limited-validity visa. The visa validity should be limited to encompass only the official travel required. For most official travel this will typically be a three-month, single-entry visa, but validity can be extended if the training is longer or there will be several trips in a relatively short amount of time (such as an LE staff who must travel several times in a six-month period for conferences or training). If the LE staff would like a full-validity visa, and is otherwise qualified, post must charge all MRV and reciprocity fees;
(11) Applicants exempted by international agreement as determined by the Department, including members and staff of an observer mission to the United Nations Headquarters recognized by the UN General Assembly, and their immediate families; and
(12) Applicants traveling to provide charitable services as determined by the Department. (See 9 FAM 403.4-3(C) below for additional details.)
9 FAM 403.4-3(B) Exemptions From Visa Issuance Fees
The regulations in 22 CFR 22.1 (Schedule of Fees) provide exemptions from MRV issuance fees in the following instances:
(1) An official representative of a foreign government (A visa applicant) or an international or regional organization of which the United States is a member (G visa applicant); members and staff of an observer mission to United Nations (UN) Headquarters recognized by the U.N. General Assembly; and applicants for diplomatic visas as defined under item 22(a) on the Schedule of Fees (see 22 CFR 22.1) and their immediate families;
(2) An applicant transiting to and from the U.N. Headquarters;
(3) An applicant participating in a U.S. Government-sponsored program; and
(4) An applicant traveling to participate in charitable services as determined by the Department.
(5) An alien who would be entitled to a C-2 visa without a fee, and who is issued a visa under any other nonimmigrant classification, must pay the fee, if any, prescribed by the appropriate country specific reciprocity schedule.
9 FAM 403.4-3(C) Obtaining a Charitable Activities Exemption
a. A waiver of the NIV application and issuance fees may be obtained for an alien who will be engaged in charitable activities for a charitable organization upon the written request of that organization. The request must claim that the fees will impose a financial burden on the charitable organization. The consular officer must be satisfied that:
(1) The organization seeking relief from the fees is, if based in the United States, tax-exempt as a charitable organization under the provisions of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)). If the organization is based outside the United States, it must establish that it is recognized as a charitable institution by the government of the country in which it is based under criteria substantially similar to those of section 501(c)(3);
(2) The charitable activities in which the alien will be engaged in are specified and will be a part of, or will be related to and in support of, the organization’s provision of services, including but not limited to health care, food and housing, job training, and similar direct services and assistance to the poor and needy;
(3) The request must include the location of the proposed activities and the number and identifying data of each of the alien(s) who will be applying for visas; and
(4) The proposed duration of the alien’s temporary stay in the United States is to be reasonably consistent with the charitable purpose for which the alien(s) seek to enter the United States.
b. Charitable Organization Information Sheet: See the Information Sheet for Charitable Institution Seeking Visa Fee Waivers in PDF format.