Want a visa? Give €15 and we can talk about it

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A reader comment reminded me of the strange reality of US public diplomacy.  As an effort to offset costs after Congress cut their operating budget (we hope this is the reason), some US embassies charge for the opportunity to setup an appointment to get a visa to enter the US.  At US consulate in The Hague, the charge is €15 (about $18). The consulate does recommend making sure you have all your documentation in order so you need only make one call – which they say you can do from anywhere in the world (which is a curious thing to say unless they are implying you can call collect). 

As the reader noted,

What a strange image this builds of America in a country which has diplomatic relations for hundreds of years.

I checked of four other US posts in Europe and failed to find a similar fee, which either makes Amsterdam unique or quicker to implement a policy. UPDATE: Jonathan writes that our embassy in Brussels requires the same payment

If this is the result of budget constraints and not a policy shift, has a demand signal been made to the budget and appropriations committees on the Hill (or to Jack Lew and others in State) on the need to get money to correct such problems?

6 Replies to “Want a visa? Give €15 and we can talk about it”

  1. Hey it is not so bad. In France, when i called the US consulate, it was the same thing (having everything ready + pressure of asking the one right question bc it is a one time only opportunity to talk to someone)but I had to pay 22 EUR. The best part was that not only can the officer tell me “I don’t know” and that pretty much settles it (goodbye my 22 EUR) but on top of it, these ‘officers’ are not even American. I once spoke to someone who was German and had no idea what I was asking and told me to try my luck again. I obviously love America but I can’t really say that this was a high point of respect for the US. Pretty negative image for sure…not to mention incompetent. Oh, and yes, the communication fee on the phone is also very high but not exactly sure how much.

  2. But, a citizen of Belgium or the Netherlands does not need a visa for routine tourist or business travel to the U.S. Many countries with lots of travelers are within the visa waiver program. The only reason to call and get an appointment would be if you are seeking permission to stay in America for long-term work or study.

  3. People, it’s $130 to apply for US visa in Pakistan. Not bad considering it’s nearly $1400 to apply for a UK visa in Pakistan.

  4. The US consulate in the Netherlands is in Amsterdam, not Den Haag. It’s very crowded every day, and to be blunt, the website has a lot of info already on it. (The organization is not the best, so you gotta click.)

  5. Thanks for the corrections. Certainly crowds who come ill-prepared pose a challenge and the prospect of a financial penalty surely encourages readiness. Perhaps the fees make sense considering our culture of taxation, which visitors will feel again on entry with the visitor tax that pays to bring in more visitors.

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