On December 23, 2019, the State Department – without notice and effective immediately – drastically raised the prices of U.S. visas for Australian nationals. Practically overnight, some visa fees went up over 3,000%. Visa reciprocity fees are paid for by all visa applications, including family members of the main visa holder.
The State Department bases its visa fees and visa duration on “reciprocity.” This means that U.S. visa costs and duration are based on what an applicant’s country offers in return to U.S. citizens. This is part of the State Department’s larger plan, in response to the President’s Executive Order 13780, to update any discrepancies in reciprocity arrangements worldwide.
While only Australia was targeted in December, visa fee changes are predicted until visa reciprocity agreements are matched worldwide.
Please see our visa chart below with the changes highlighted for Australian nationals.
You can find additional information on the visa reciprocity schedule here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country/australia.html
While the visa reciprocity fees will have a major impact on many Australian visa applicants, it’s important to note that the fees for the E-3 visa did not change.
The E-3 visa permits Australian nationals to work in the U.S. in a “specialty occupation” and is similar in many respects to the H-1B visa. However, where the H-1B is subject to a 65,000 annual limit, the E-3 has a separate quota of 10,500, which has yet to be reached. The E-3 also allows spouses of the visa holder to apply for work authorization – an option not available for H-1B and their spouses, H-4 visa holders.