Recently, the US Department of State announced a hike in the non-immigrant visa application fees. This move will considerably increase the financial commitment that students will have to make when choosing the USA as their destination for higher education.
In a statement released by the US State Department, the US visitor visa fees for business and tourism, i.e. B1 and B2 visas, as well as the other non-petition-based non-immigrant visas, including student and exchange visitor visas have been increased. The statement read that the US visa fees have been increased from USD 160 to 185, effective 30 May 2023.
Speaking to the media, students who had been aspiring to study in the USA highlighted the stress that comes with the increased US student visa fees. As many already consider studying in the USA as an expensive affair, the hiked visa fees do not help reduce the burden.
The increased fees also affect the decisions that the students may have made to study in the USA, while others have had to completely revamp their budgets. Such drastic changes can affect the students’ mental well-being as well.
Even though the hike in US non-immigrant visa fees has made people change their budgets and plan their travel differently, experts suggest that the increase will not deter Indian students from travelling to the US.
However, experts have also suggested that the increasing interest in loans can bring doubt among many students. Seen as financial aid to study abroad, the rise in US student visa application fees, coupled with the education loans and other miscellaneous expenses, may add to the financial burden the students may have to carry unless they are able to make smart financial decisions.
Despite questions, a US official has stated that the move is part of routine consular fee increases. The statement from the State Department highlighted an Activity-Based Costing methodology, which had been used to calculate the cost of offering consular services, which include visa services as well.
The statement emphasised President Biden’s foreign policy, which viewed visas offered for work and tourism as essential as well as the crucial part of international travel in the development of the US economy. Reports stated that the last time that non-petition-based non-immigrant visas received a fee update had been in 2012, meanwhile, other select NIVs saw a fee update in 2014.
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