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  • News: DOS Updates Fee Schedule For Consular Services

    [Federal Register Volume 77, Number 180 (Monday, September 17, 2012)]
    [Rules and Regulations]
    [Pages 57012-57013]
    From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
    [FR Doc No: 2012-22862]


    =======================================================================
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    DEPARTMENT OF STATE

    [Public Notice: 8026]

    22 CFR Parts 22 and 42

    RIN 1400-AD06

    Schedule of Fees for Consular Services, Department of State and
    Overseas Embassies and Consulates

    AGENCY: Bureau of Consular Affairs, Department of State.

    ACTION: Final rule.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    SUMMARY: This rulemaking addresses public comments regarding an Interim
    Final Rule that makes changes to the Schedule of Fees for Consular
    Services (Schedule) for a number of different visa fees. The Department
    of State adopts the rule as final, without change.


    DATES: Effective September 17, 2012.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Special Assistant, Office of the
    Comptroller, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Department of State; phone:
    202-663-1576, telefax: 202-663-2526; email: fees@state.gov.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: For the complete explanation of the
    background of this rule, including the rationale for the change, the
    authority of the Department of State (``Department'') to make the fee
    changes in question, and an explanation of the study that produced the
    fee amounts, consult the prior public notices: 77 FR 18907 (March 29,
    2012); 77 FR 20294 (April 4, 2012); and 75 FR 14111 (March 24, 2010).

    Background

    The Department published an interim final rule in the Federal
    Register (77 FR 18907, March 29, 2012) amending 22 CFR parts 22 and 42.
    Specifically, the rule made changes to the Schedule of Fees for
    Consular Services for visa fees and provided 60 days for comments from
    the public. During the comment period 18 comments were received, either
    by email or through the submission process at www.regulations.gov. The
    Department analyzed these 18 comments and reproduces that analysis in
    the Analysis of Comments section below.
    This rule finalizes the following fees for the categories below, as
    determined by the Cost of Service Model (CoSM), which took effect on
    April 13, 2012.

    Non-Petition based Nonimmigrant Visa Application (except E
    category): from $140 to $160
    H, L, O, P, Q and R visa categories: from $150 to $190
    E visa category: from $390 to $270
    K visa category: from $350 to $240
    BCC Adult: from $140 to $160
    BCC Minor: from $14 to $15
    Family-Based Immigrant visa: from $330 to $230
    Employment-Based Immigrant visa: from $720 to $405
    Other Immigrant visas (including I-360 self-petitioners and
    special immigrant visas): from $305 to $220
    Diversity Visa Lottery Fee (per person applying as a result of
    the lottery program): from $440 to $330
    Determining Returning Resident Status: from $380 to $275
    Transportation Letters for Lawful Permanent Residents of the
    United States: from $165 to $0

    Analysis of Comments

    The interim rule was published for public comment on March 29,
    2012. During this period, the Department received 18 comments/
    questions. The following analysis addresses these 18 comments.
    Four comments were questions regarding when the fee changes took
    effect. To answer: applicants paid the fee amount that was effective on
    the date they paid the fee. Receipts for fees paid under the prior fee
    schedule were accepted for 90 days following the effective fee change
    (i.e., July 12, 2012). In short, if a fee was paid on or before April
    12, 2012 the receipt for the prior fee was valid until July 12, 2012.
    If a fee was paid April 13, 2012 or later, an applicant paid the new
    fee.
    Four comments criticized the increase of the nonimmigrant visa
    application processing fee, arguing that the increase would make it
    more difficult for visitors to bring their families to the United
    States to visit. Although the Department understands the financial
    difficulties that may result from a fee increase, the Department must
    recover the cost of providing those services and sets the fees for
    those services accordingly, including nonimmigrant visa application
    processing fees.
    Seven comments from H-2 employers opposed the H visa fee increase
    from $150 to $190. Those comments stated that the fee increase would be
    an added tax burden and competitive disadvantage for U.S. domestic food
    producers who compete in a global marketplace. The comments also stated
    that increasing the cost of the H-2 visa to fund expanded adjudication
    capacity and physical infrastructure improvements at consulates in
    China and Brazil was unfair because very few H-2 workers come from
    either of these countries. In addition, the comments questioned whether
    the H-2 fee increase would lead to any improvements in the H-2 program,
    particularly in Mexico where most employers hire their H-2 workers.
    The Department is adjusting the processing fee for H-category visas
    from $150 to $190 because processing an H visa application requires a
    review of extensive documentation and a more in-depth interview of the
    applicant than for other categories of nonimmigrant visas. Because the
    fees are set based on cost, a more time-consuming process necessarily
    will result in a higher fee. Although some of the comments expressed
    the belief that adjudicating H category visas should require simpler
    processing for repeat applicants, the Cost of Service Model (CoSM)
    showed that H visas require more time and resources to process than
    others. The Department determined it would be fairer to charge a higher
    fee for those visa categories requiring more complex processing (H, L,
    O, P, Q, R, E, and K), rather than spreading those additional costs out
    across all other visa categories. In addition, the fees established by
    this rule are based on unit costs, which represent the global average
    costs for each service as a whole. The most recent CoSM, the activity-
    based costing model the Department used to determine the new processing
    fees, improved substantially upon prior cost of service models by
    identifying unit costs not just for nonimmigrant visas as a whole, but
    for specific visa classes that involved more work to process. The CoSM
    did not, however, distinguish between subcategories of visas within a
    single category, such as an H-1B versus an H-2. Instead, the cost model
    averaged together the cost of processing all subcategories within a
    particular category of visa, which the Department used to calculate a
    single processing fee for that visa category. Although the time to
    process individual visa applications will vary from application to
    application, the fee is set based on the average cost to process a visa
    application from that visa category.
    The costs for worldwide physical upgrades and personnel increases,
    including in China and Brazil, were spread out across all nonimmigrant
    visa categories in order to keep the impact minimal. In addition to the
    upgrades to the Department's facilities in China and Brazil, the
    Department opened a new consulate facility in Tijuana in 2010 and

    [[Page 57013]]

    plans to open a new facility in Monterrey in 2014. The Department also
    recently opened application service centers in Mexicali, Piedras
    Negras, and Reynosa to accommodate additional applicants along the
    U.S.-Mexico border.
    Of the three remaining comments, one noted its support for the
    reduced K visa fee and one applauded the Department for decreasing
    consular fees on certain nonimmigrant, immigrant, and special visa
    services, while also expressing concern for the increases to the other
    visa categories. One comment expressed a desire for a discount on all
    minor NIVs, not just minor BCCs. We note that the Department is
    required by law to set the fee for the minor BCC below cost at $15. The
    same requirement does not apply to other minor NIVs, which the
    Department sets on the basis of cost as described more fully above.

    Conclusion

    The Department has adjusted the fees to ensure that sufficient
    resources are available to meet the costs of providing consular
    services in light of the CoSM's findings. Pursuant to OMB guidance and
    federal law, the Department endeavors to recover the cost of providing
    services that benefit specific individuals rather than the public at
    large. See OMB Circular A-25, sections 6(a)(1), (a)(2)(a); 31 U.S.C.
    9701(b). For this reason, the Department has adjusted the Schedule.

    Regulatory Findings

    For a summary of the regulatory findings and analyses regarding
    this rulemaking, please refer to the findings and analyses published
    with the interim final rule, which can be found at 77 FR 18907, which
    are adopted herein. The rule became effective April 13, 2012. As noted
    above, the Department has considered the comments submitted in response
    to the interim final rule, and does not adopt them. Thus, the rule
    remains in effect without modification.
    In addition, as noted in the interim final rule, this rule was
    submitted to and reviewed by OMB pursuant to E.O. 12866. The Department
    of State has also considered this rule in light of Executive Order
    13563, dated January 18, 2011, and affirms that this regulation is
    consistent with the guidance therein.
    Accordingly, the Interim Final Rule amending 22 CFR parts 22 and 42
    which was published at 77 FR 18907 on March 29, 2012, is adopted as
    final without change.

    Dated: September 4, 2012.
    Patrick F. Kennedy,
    Under Secretary of State for Management, U.S. Department of State.
    [FR Doc. 2012-22862 Filed 9-14-12; 8:45 am]
    BILLING CODE 4710-06-P
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