Belizeans wishing to visit the United States of America will have to pay more to get a visitor’s visa. In a circular sent out by the US Department of State, effective Friday of this week, an adjustment in visa processing fees will go into effect. The circular says that the fee for most nonimmigrant visa applications and border crossing cars will increase, while all immigrant visa processing fees will decrease. Salina Rico is the Vice Counsel at the US Embassy in Belmopan.
According to Rico, the fee increases are standard increases across the globe where the United States maintains a diplomatic presence and not exclusive to Belize.
US DEPARTMENT OF STATE INCREASES APPLICATION FEE FOR NON-IMMIGRANT VISAS
Belizeans wishing to visit the United States of America will have to pay more to get a visitor’s visa. In a circular sent out by the US Department of State, effective Friday of this week, an adjustment in visa processing fees will go into effect. The circular says that the fee for most non-immigrant visa applications and border crossing cars will increase, while all immigrant visa processing fees will decrease. That means that for Belizeans applying for a tourist, transit, student or journalist visas, the cost of processing will go up by a whopping forty dollars. Right now, the visa processing fee is two hundred and eight dollars.
Come Friday, Belizeans will be required to pay three hundred and twenty dollars. According to the US government circular, the State Department is required to recover, as far as possible, the cost of processing visas through the collection of application fees. For a number of reasons, the official release says, current fees no longer cover the actual cost of processing non-immigrant visas. The non-immigrant visa fee increase will support the addition and expansion of overseas facilities, as well as additional staffing required to be able to meet increased visa.
Passport renewal is totally different, in that you already HAVE your passport. If someone wants a US Visa, they pay the fee (now $320) just to APPLY. From what I've seen when at the Embassy, the vast majority of applicants are turned down.
$320 Stamp... "No" Thanks, you're welcome to apply again.
Interesting what was politely explained to me (by an employee of the US Embassy) in Belmopan:
The application process for a travel visa to the US is basically the opposite of say what we commonly presume to be the mindset of the US judicial system, IE, "innocent until proven guilty." For people applying for travel visas to the US, the US basically views applicants in the opposite way, guilty until proven otherwise. In other words, all applicants are viewed as a flight risk whose intention is to remain in the US. This is perhaps oversimplifying it a bit, but not really. Example: as an employer here, we had an employee who was young, motivated, a hard worker & diligent. You would think these points would be POSITIVE things in a letter of recommendation. Not so for a travel visa as you're basically saying the individual is "smart and motivated enough to easily get a job illegally in the US." His visa request was promptly denied. What the US wants to see most of all are ties to Belize, ones that would be difficult to give up: land ownership, significant funds in a Belize bank account, family/dependents living here, steady job history, etc. Usually if they grant a Visa, it will be for one visit only, basically to prove yourself, show that you will return, etc. Then you have to reapply for another Visa for the next time you want to travel and if you're lucky you'll be granted one for a year, five years or ten years.
On any given day there are dozens (and dozens) of people waiting in line for travel visas. That's a decent chunk of change coming in.
We have tried to help many Belizean youth to get visas to go to the US for training that is not available here in Belize and at least 90% get turned down for the reasons mostly stated above. And the worst part for them they work hard to raise the funds to pay for the application and if refused they do not get the money back.
How much will applicants really pay with visa fee increase?
Yesterday we informed you that application fees for US visas are increasing; Belizeans will be paying $40.00 more for the regular visa effective today Friday, April 13. Allow us to offer more information on all increases for the various types of visas: Visitor and Transit, Crewmember, Student or Exchange, those will increase to $320.00; Temporary workers, intra –company transferees, performers, athletes, and religious workers visas will now cost 380.00; Financed based visas have increased to $480.00; and Treaty Trade/ Investors visas now require a $540.00 deposit. The increase, says the US Government, is to offset the rising administrative and processing requirements of the application procedure.