Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde October 11, 2017

President Donald Trump stalls on visa fee increases for Mexican nationals

As a candidate, President Donald Trump scorned Mexico for costs that he said American taxpayers shouldered as a result of illegal immigration from the southern border.

The "three core principles" of his immigration plan, which has been removed from his campaign website, included building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and having Mexico pick up the bill.

Trump said that until Mexico paid for the wall, the United States would, among other things, "increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats (and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards ... increase fees on all (North American Free Trade Agreement) worker visas from Mexico … and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico." (Trump claimed people coming via border crossing cards and NAFTA visas were a major source of visa overstays.)

A State Department spokesperson told us that none of the visa fee increases Trump promised have taken place so far.

A border crossing card, which also serves as a B1/B2 visitor's visa, is issued to Mexican citizens who demonstrate that ties in Mexico would compel them to go back to the country after a temporary stay in the United States.

For Mexicans age 15 or older, the border crossing card fee is $160 and is valid for 10 years.  Mexican citizens under 15 pay $16 if a parent or guardian has a card or is applying for one. Their card is valid for 10 years or until they turn 15, whichever comes first.

The State Department also told us there have been no changes to fees for diplomats or for TN visas (issued to NAFTA professionals) since January 2017. (The application fee for a TN visa is $160.)

The visa category closest to the Mexican CEOs who Trump also said would be targeted for visa increases are employment-based visas for intracompany transferees.

The L-1A nonimmigrant classification allows U.S. employers to transfer executive or managers from affiliated foreign offices to offices in the United States, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Under that classification, foreign companies without U.S. offices can also send an executive or manager to the United States to set up an affiliate office.

The visa application fee is $190, the State Department said, but before a visa is approved, employers must file with USCIS a petition for a nonimmigrant worker. That filing fee is $460.

Petition and visa processing fees for L visas have not changed since Trump took office.

The fee for the Border Crossing Card (for individuals 15 years old or more) was last increased in April 2012, from $140 to $160. The fee for Border Crossing Card for individuals under 15 years old went down in October 2015, from $17 to $16.

In April 2012, the TN visa fee increased from $140 to $160 and the L visa fee increased from $150 to $190.

The State Department told us that fees for consular services are set at a level to cover the costs associated with service, are based on total worldwide costs to the State Department, and do not vary by country. Nonimmigrant visa applicants from certain countries may be required to pay a visa issuance fee after their application is approved — on a principle of reciprocity, when another country charges U.S. citizens for certain types of visas, the United States imposes a reciprocal fee on that country's citizen for similar visas, the State Department said. No reciprocity fees are listed for Mexico.

The White House did not provide answers to our inquiry on Trump's campaign promise to increase visa fees for Mexicans until the country paid for the border wall. The cost of Trump's wall is still uncertain, Mexico has not agreed to pay for it, and visa fees remain unchanged.

For now, we rate this promise Stalled.

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