The United States has recently declared an increase of approximately 15 percent in the fees for certain nonimmigrant visa applications (NIV), which includes student visas. The new fees will be effective from May 30, 2023, and will impact thousands of students who aspire to study in US.
According to a statement by the US State Department, the fee for visitor visas for business or tourism (B1/B2), and other non-petition based NIVs such as student and exchange visitor visas (F, M, J), will increase from $160 to $185. The fee for temporary workers (H, L, O, P, Q, and R) will also increase from $190 to $205, while the fee for E-category visas will increase from $205 to $315.
The US State Department said that the fee increase is necessary to recover the full cost of processing nonimmigrant visas and to ensure sufficient resources to maintain secure and efficient visa operations.
Indian students feel the pinch
The hike in US student visa fees has come as an additional burden for Indian students who already have to pay hefty amounts for their university application fees, tuition fees, and living expenses in the US. The US is one of the most popular study-abroad destinations for Indian students, with 1,25,000 study visas issued from the country in 2022.
Ashni Sundani, who plans to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of California, believes that the hike in visa fees is unjust because she has already paid a significant amount for her university application fees, ranging from $60 to $100 to various institutions for the same purpose.
Nidhi Shetty, who is enrolling in a Master’s program in Industrial Engineering at the University of Buffalo, expressed that while she views the hike in visa fees as another expense to handle, it does have an impact on her overall budget. This is because she must also take into account expenses such as accommodation, food, transportation, and other costs associated with studying in the US.
Anusha Shah, another student, reiterated a comparable sentiment, stating that she is mentally ready to spend a significant amount of money since she anticipates encountering many hurdles while pursuing her education in the US.
Experts say visa fees won’t deter students
However, some experts believe that the increase in US student visa fees will not be a major deterrent for US-bound students as it does not make much of a difference in their overall expenses.
According to Ajay Sharma, who is the President and Founder of Abhinav Immigration Services, the rise in visa fees by just $25 is not significant enough to discourage students from studying in the US given the already high cost of education in the country.
US Consulate to hold student visa session
As the Fall 2023 intake approaches, which typically spans from August to December, the US Consulate in Mumbai is preparing to host a student visa session on April 14. The session is intended for students who possess a valid I-20 form or a letter of admission from a US university. The session will provide guidance on how to apply for a US student visa and answer any queries that students might have regarding the process.