[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]


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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.

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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