Effective Friday June 4th, the US Embassy in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Palermo (whose ambassador’s residence appears in the photograph here) has announced that the cost of non-immigrant visa processing will rise by US$9 for Argentines and, by extension, all other foreigners whose countries do not currently participate in the Visa Waiver Program. According to the Buenos Aires Herald, this is a world-wide measure decreed by the US State Department, “related to security, new information technology systems, and a new policy in the US Congress of charging visa applicants US$1 in order to support programmes that are to combat people-trafficking.”
This means that Argentina, along with Chile and Brazil, is likely to raise “reciprocity fees” for US citizens by an equivalent amount, to US$140 per person (Brazil also requires an advance visa for tourists, which Argentina and Chile do not). I’ve written several times about reciprocity fees, and the way in which they are counter-productive to a healthy travel and tourism sector in the three Southern Cone countries (and anywhere else, for that matter). There is still the possibility all three may eventually be included in the Visa Waiver Program (which would greatly benefit the US as well).
While any increase in the fees is undesirable, the relatively small amount is probably not great enough to affect travel to the region to any serious extent. Anybody who’s already paid the fee will not have to worry about it, but those visiting any of these countries for the first time, or with a new passport, will get hit with the higher charge. In Argentina and Chile, the fee still does not apply to overland passengers, nor to air passengers entering anywhere other than Buenos Aires or Santiago, but in Brazil it applies at all border crossings.