[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