visa reciprocity fee

There are quite a few fees required when trying to obtain a U.S. visa. Visa reciprocity, sometimes also called visa insurance, is a fee that some individuals from certain countries/areas have to pay when their visa application is approved. Since not all non-immigrant applicants are required to pay this fee, and it sometimes changes, always check for the reciprocity schedule when traveling to and from the United States to ensure you meet the requirements.

Reciprocity Schedule – Do You Have to Pay the Fee?

As the name implies, this fee is based on the principle of reciprocity — “when a foreign government imposes fees on U.S. citizens for certain types of visas, the United States will impose a reciprocal fee on citizens of that country*/area of authority for similar types of visas.” Likewise, if there is no fee, then it will be waived on both ends as well.

The visa reciprocity fee is different from the non-immigrant visa application fee (MRV fee), so do not assume that you are exempt from the visa reciprocity fee if you already paid the non-immigrant visa application fee. Most applicants for a nonimmigrant visa (including children) are responsible for the non-immigrant visa application fee because it initiates the United States visa application process before the visa is approved or denied. The visa reciprocity fee is due after your visa application is approved and you have passed your interview.  To find out if you need to pay the fee, visit the U.S. Department of State Reciprocity and Civil Documents by Country page and select your country of nationality on the left-hand menu (listed alphabetically). It will open a new page listing the Reciprocity Schedule sorted by visa classification. Select your Visa Classification (type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for). Next to it you will see if a fee applies, the number of entries (number of times you can seek entry into the United States with that visa), and the validity period for visas issued to applicants from that country.

For example, if your country of nationality is Armenia and you are in the A-1 Visa Classification, you will see the fee is none, you are allowed multiple entries, and the validity period is 60 months. However, if the number of entries says one in your area, you can only apply for entry once with that particular visa. Under the Visa Classifications box, you will see a section titled Country Specific Footnotes. Be sure to thoroughly review that section as well for any additional information that may apply to you.

Understanding the Visa Reciprocity Schedule Table

When looking at the Visa Reciprocity  Table on the State Department’s website, you’ll find a series of terms and ways to search through the table. It’s important to know the definitions of those terms.

visa reciprocity table

Visa Classification: This is the kind of non-immigrant visa you are applying for. Below is a chart showing some of the nonimmigrant visa categories. B-1 and B-2 visas are very common non-immigrant visas used for tourist or business trip purposes. You can see a full list of non-immigrant visa categories here.

Visa Class

Travel Purpose

B-1

Athlete

J

Exchange Visitor

E-3

Australian profession specialty

BCC

Border Crossing Card

CW-1

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands transitional worker

D

Crewmember

A

Foreign official or diplomat

G1-G6

NATO

A-2

NATO1-6

O

Alien with extraordinary ability in Sciences

H-1B1 Chile or Singapore

FTA Professional from Chile or Singapore

Q

International cultural exchange visitor

L

Intra-company transferee

B-2

Visitor for Medical Treatment

I

Journalist

TN/TD

NAFTA professional frome Mexico or Canada

P

Performer

Physician and specialty occupations with highly specialized knowledge

R

Religious worker

F, M

Academic or vocational student

Fee: The reciprocity fee you are responsible for apart from the non-immigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you can seek entry into the United States with that visa. If there is an M next to it, that means you can have entry into the U.S. multiple times, whereas if there is a number next to it, like “one,” then you can only enter into the U.S. with the visa that number of times.

Validity Period: This refers to how long the visa can be used (date it was issued and date it expires) to travel to the U.S.

Finding Out If There’s a Fee

After understanding the terms, search for your country through the right-hand menu. You can filter by selecting the first letter of your country’s name.

Visa Reciprocity Table

 

After selecting the country, you’ll be able to filter by class of admission and see the fee, number of entries, and validity period.

Visa Reciprocity Table
The example above shows that if you’re coming from China there is a visa reciprocity fee of $120 for L-1 and L-2 visa applicants.

What is the Non-Immigrant Visa Application Fee?

As previously mentioned, do not mix up the non-immigrant visa application fee (MRV fee) with the visa reciprocity fee because they are different. The non-immigrant visa application fee (MRV fee) is a government-mandated fee required for most applicants, including children, to initiate the United States visa application process, despite whether the visa is approved or not. The visa reciprocity fee is due after your visa application is approved and you have passed your interview.

The non-immigrant visa application fee is $160.00 for the following non-petition based nonimmigrant visa categories:

  • B Visa – Visitor Visa for business, tourism, and medical treatment
  • C-1 Visa – Transiting the United States
  • D – Crewmembers – Airline, ship
  • F – Student, academic
  • I – Media and journalists
  • J – Exchange visitors
  • M – Students, vocational
  • TN/TD – NAFTA Professionals
  • S – Witness or informant
  • T – Victim of trafficking in persons
  • U – Victim of criminal activity

The fee for petition-based visa categories is $190.00 for the following:

  • H – Temporary workers/ employment or trainees
  • L – Intracompany transferees
  • O – Persons with extraordinary ability
  • P – Athletes, artists, and entertainers
  • Q – International cultural exchange
  • R – Religious workers

The fee is a little bit higher for the following visa categories:

  • E – Treaty Trader/Investor, Australian Professional Specialty category visa: $205.00
  • K – Fiancé(e) or Spouse of U.S. citizen category visa: $265.00

You can see a complete list of MRV fees here.

How the Visa Interview Works

As previously mentioned, the visa reciprocity fee is to be paid after your visa application is approved and you have passed your interview, so do not attempt to pay it in advance. For the visa interview, you will be given detailed instructions by the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your country about which documents to bring with you for the appointment. If any are not already translated to English, be sure to do so. You must come prepared for this interview and are in a good frame of mind to answer questions by the immigration officials. Once approved, they will check if you are required to pay the visa reciprocity fee based on your country of origin.

Recent Changes to Visa Reciprocity Table

The Department of State reciprocity fee has changed along with the validity period for certain visa applicants and visa classifications in recent years. In 2020, for example, the State Department removed the visa reciprocity fee for Nigerians. You can see a complete list of reciprocity changes here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does reciprocity mean in terms of immigration fees? 

The Department of Homeland Security defines reciprocity as: “When a foreign government imposes fees on U.S. citizens for certain types of visas, the United States will impose a reciprocal fee on citizens of that country*/area of authority for similar types of visas.” So it is like a give and take in terms of fees that the U.S. has with other nations.

What is a reciprocity schedule? 

The visa reciprocity schedule basically details which applicants from certain countries/areas of authority must pay a visa reciprocity fee (and the amount) when their visa application is approved. It also indicates if they are allowed multiple entries and the validity period of that particular visas.

How much is the reciprocity fee for a U.S. visa?

The reciprocity fee will differ from applicant to applicant depending on their country of origin and type of visa. Some applicants will not be required to pay any visa reciprocity fee, while some will need to pay it once their visa is approved. It can be as high as several thousand dollars depending on the visa type and country. To determine what your responsible fee would be, visit the U.S. Department of State Reciprocity and Civil Documents by Country page. Select your country of nationality and then select your visa classification to see the fee on the left-hand menu.

Where do I pay the reciprocity fee for the U.S.? 

You can pay the visa reciprocity fee at your visa interview at the Consulate/U.S. Embassy. They will provide further details on acceptable payment types, or you can contact them in advance and ask.

Is the visa reciprocity fee the same as the nonimmigrant visa fee? 

The nonimmigrant visa application fee is not the same thing as the reciprocity fee. Every applicant does not require a reciprocity fee. For those required to pay it, that should be done after the visa application is approved and after the interview. The non-immigrant visa application fee is paid to initiate the United States visa application process.