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Blog Series: Understanding Immigration Terms and Documents (Reciprocity Schedule)

Updated: Mar 22

As part of our series “Understanding Immigration Terms and Documents,” today we are focusing on the visa Reciprocity Schedule, which outlines the fees, validity periods, and other conditions assigned to certain nonimmigrant visa categories for applicants of various countries. 


The U.S. Department of State (DOS) posts the Reciprocity Schedule and instructions on how to read it HERE. To view the reciprocity page for your country, select your country from the list on the left-hand side. On your country’s page, you may search for specific visa types. This page will display any reciprocity fees you must pay, the number of times you may seek entry into the U.S. using that type of visa, and the period of how long your visa may be valid for. The fees, number of entries, and validity periods of these specific visas will vary depending on the country of the foreign national, so it is important to review the reciprocity schedule upon the approval of your visa application.


A reciprocity fee, also sometimes referred to as an issuance fee, is a payment made directly to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate after the approval of a U.S. visa application. The term “reciprocity fee” is based on the principle of reciprocity: when a foreign government imposes fees on U.S. citizens for certain visa categories, then the U.S. will reciprocate the fee on the citizens of that country for similar visa types. Therefore, not all foreign nationals are required to pay reciprocity fees, but those from countries with reciprocity agreements with the U.S. may own a fee. For example, a Brazilian citizen applying for an O-1 visa stamp will be required to pay a $25 fee, but a French citizen will not have such a fee. 


Another part of the DOS reciprocity schedule that is incredibly important to monitor is the visa validity period. While it is the case for many countries that the visa validity dates will match the petition approval notice, there are some countries and visa types where that is not the case. For example, at present, a British citizen who has a 3-year O-1 approval should receive a 3-year visa stamp with multiple entries permitted. However, a Chinese citizen who has a 3-year O-1 petition approval will only be issued a 3-month visa stamp that permits only one (1) entry. Thus, that Chinese citizen will need to apply for and receive a new O-1 visa stamp before every entry to the U.S.  


Lastly, the DOS reciprocity schedule also displays additional country-specific information, such as the types of civil documents and records available in the given country (e.g. birth certificates, police records, etc.). The civil documents listed in the reciprocity schedule are those which are accepted by the U.S. government for U.S. immigration purposes. The DOS reciprocity schedule provides helpful information and tools for how and where to obtain these documents in foreign countries. 


Should you have any questions about the reciprocity schedule or any other inbound U.S. immigration matters, please do not hesitate to contact Blaker & Granet LLP.

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