Thu, May 05, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Bureau at odds with AIT over US visa fee change

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Bureau of Consular Affairs appeared to have stolen the American Institute in Taiwan’s (AIT) thunder by issuing a press release yesterday saying the AIT would reduce the cost of applying for US visas from NT$4,340 to NT$4,200 starting on Monday.

The AIT, however, did not announce any decision yesterday nor did it post the information on its Web site, a practice the AIT usually takes to notify the public about adjustments of its visa fees.

NO CHANGE

According to AIT spokesperson Christopher Kavanagh, the fee for a general non-immigrant visa is still NT$4,340.

“AIT adjusts the exchange rate used for calculating visa fees as required by regulations. In such cases, we inform the Taiwan post office [sic] of the change and the post office implements it within a practicable period of time,” he said. “When the change goes into effect, AIT posts the new visa fees on our Web site.”

“AIT is the sole, definitive source for information about consular fees,” he added.

Asked for a response to the AIT’s comments, ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) said the AIT has notified the Coordination Council of North American Affairs, the AIT’s Taiwanese counterpart, about the planned adjustment in writing. The fee change will take effect upon announcement by the AIT, he added.

COMPLAINTS

The ministry has recently urged the AIT to reduce its visa fee after some lawmakers said they received complaints from people that the US visa fees should be adjusted in the wake of exchange rate changes.

In response to the call, the AIT at the time said that it adjusts its visa fees when the average appreciation of the New Taiwan dollar per month exceeds 5 percent, as required by regulations.

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