How much is a visa for America?
If you are planning to travel to the US, you will need to pay for any applications you make to the US immigration authorities. How much you’ll need to pay will depend on factor such as the type of application you are making and where you are filing your petition.
In this article, we summarize the fees to pay when you make an application to travel to the USA.
Visa-free travel with ESTA authorization
Some travelers are able to travel to the US visa-free, under the Visa Waiver Program. The VWP allows nationals of certain countries – including the UK – to visit the US for up to 90 days without having to secure a visa, provided they are granted ESTA authorization. ESTA authorization is hugely advantageous for travelers since it means you avoid having to undergo the visa application process and it costs significantly less than applying for a visa. ESTA applications cost only $21 per applicant. This applies to each traveler, including infants and children.
You apply by completing the ESTA application form online and paying the $21 processing fee (charged in US dollars).
If you are refused ESTA authorization, for example if you do not meet the admissibility requirements, you will lose the application fee.
If you are subsequently refused entry to the US, you may receive a partial refund.
If you are not eligible for ESTA – for example if you are not a VWP-national, or if you have a past conviction, or if you intend to stay for longer than 90 days – you will need to apply for a relevant visa for permission to travel.
Nonimmigrant visa application MRV fee
Nonimmigrant visas are those granting short-term permission for the holder to come to the US for the purposes as stated in their visa conditions.
The visa eligibility requirements and application process will vary, depending on the visa you are applying for. For example, the B visitor visa is a relatively straightforward application, while the E visa is considerably more involved in terms of the information to be compiled and the adjudication procedure.
Regardless of the visa category, you will have to pay the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee applicable to the visa classification you are applying for:
- Non-petition based applications (includes B,C, D, F, I, J, M) – $160
- Petition-based applicants (includes H, L, O, P, Q, R) – $190
- E-1, E-2 & E-3 visa applicants – $205
- K visa applicants – $265
The full breakdown of nonimmigrant visas is as follows:
|Visa Type||Description||Fee Amount (in USD)|
|E||Treaty Trader/Investor, Australian Professional Specialty||$205|
|H||Temporary/Seasonal Workers and Employment, Trainees||$190|
|I||Journalist and Media||$160|
|K||Fiancé(e) or Spouse of U.S. Citizen||$265|
|O||Persons with Extraordinary Ability||$190|
|P||Athletes. Artists & Entertainers||$190|
|Q||International Cultural Exchange||$190|
The MRV fee is payable when scheduling your visa interview, and can only be made by card online. The fee is non-transferable (either between visa classifications or applicants) and non-refundable, even where the visa application is refused. Your visa application will need to be completed within 12 months of paying the fee or it will be lost.
Limited exceptions apply to payment of the MRV fee:
- Diplomatic passport holders
- Official passport holders applying for official visa
- Employees of International Organizations (G Visas)
- Foreign Military Personal stationed in the U.S. (NATO visas)
- Exchange Visitors who are sponsored by the U.S. government (J Visas)
Additional fees for nonimmigrant visas
Depending on the visa you are applying for, you may have to pay additional fees.
Issuance fees, also known as reciprocty fees, apply to nationals of certain countries where US citizens are required to pay for the equivalent or similar visa or service.
For UK nationals, under current rules, the issuance fee applies to the L-2 and E-2 visas.
For Blanket L-1 applications, the following will be payable:
- A Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500
- Border Security Act fee of $4,500 where applicable
The fee(s) are to be paid on the day of the visa interview.
F, M and J visa applicants will need to pay a separate SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee in addition to the visa application fee.
- Nonimmigrant students – $200
- Exchange visitors – $180
Payment is made online through the SEVIS fee processing website and cannot be made at the Embassy or Consulate. Note that applicants participating in a US Government-sponsored program (programs whose codes begin with G-1, G-2, G-3, G-7) are not required to pay the SEVIS fee.
Immigrant visa fees
Immigrant visas allow the holder to stay permanently in the US to live and work.
The fees for the immigrant visas are for petitions as well as processing fees:
Immediate Relative and Family Preference applicants – $325
Employment Preference applicants – $345
Special immigrants including widow/widower of a U.S. citizen – $205
Diversity Immigrants – $330
Applicants for Returning Resident Status – $205
Form I-130, Immigrant Petition for Relative – $535
If your application is being processed through the Embassy in London, the relevant fee is paid on the day of your visa interview, whereas if your application is via the National Visa Center (NVC), the fee is to be paid before processing begins.
Again, these fees are non-refundable and non-transferable, regardless of the outcome of your petition.
Additional nonimmigrant fees
Depending on your circumstances you may have to bear additional costs relating to your application. For example, an Affidavit of Support from a US sponsor costs $120, while an application for determining Returning Resident Status is $180. Other fees such as an immigration medical examination or genetic testing are set by the individual service providers, meaning prices can vary.
NNU Immigration are dedicated US immigration attorneys based in London. We support employers, entrepreneurs and key personnel with all aspects of US immigration applications, including eligibility requirements, petitioning procedures and costs of US work visa applications. If you require support or guidance on a visa application, contact us.
US immigration fees and charges are subject to change. The fees stated in this article are correct as at August 2021. This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.