On September 1, 2004 a new fee comes into effect for those who apply for a US student visa. The fee is a one-time fee for persons applying for F, J or M visas and covers the costs of administering SEVIS (the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). This fee is charged in addition to the applicable visa application fee.
The SEVIS fee has been set at $200 for most applicants. Certain short-term exchange visitors (au pairs, summer work/travel and camp counselors) will pay a reduced fee of $35. Persons sponsored by the U.S. Government are exempt from the fee.
The SEVIS fee must be paid by those applying for F, J and M visas with I-20 or DS-2019 forms with an issue date of September 1, 2004 or later. However, persons with I-20/DS-2019 forms issued before that date are not subject to the SEVIS fee regardless of when they apply for their visa. Applicants with F-1, F-3, J-1, M-1 and M-3 visas) will have to pay the SEVIS fee. On the other hand, applicants with F-2, M-2 and J-2 derivative status do not have to pay a SEVIS fee.
The SEVIS fee is non-refundable; no refunds will be made because of a visa refusal for any reason. However, refunds will be made for payments made in error. The SEVIS fee must be paid prior to visa issuance. The legislation requires that proof of payment be presented to consular officials during the visa application process or prior to submitting a change of status request. However, applicants may schedule interview appointments before paying the fee.
Payment of the SEVIS fee
There are three ways in which the SEVIS can be paid:
- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has set up a lock box to accept fee payment by mail. Applicants will be able to submit Form I-901 (Fee Remittance for Certain F, M and J Nonimmigrants), together with a check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank and payable in U.S. currency.
- DHS has also set up a website on the Internet to accept electronic submission of Form I-901 and payment of the SEVIS fee using a credit card. The website address is: https://www.fmjfee.com/.
- The SEVIS fee may also be paid by the sponsor of the exchange visitor program if the sponsor participates in the payment program. Applicants are encouraged to check with their sponsor.
SEVIS fee payment is not limited to payment by the individual applicant. DHS will accept fee payment from a third party individual or institution, either in the United States or abroad, using either option one or two above.
The person paying the fee will receive a receipt, either by return mail or electronically. Persons who pay through the Internet may also print out their fee receipt at the time of filing and present it as proof of payment. This receipt is sufficient proof of SEVIS fee payment. Applicants should make every effort to make the SEVIS payment at least three business days prior to the scheduled date of the visa interview.
The SEVIS fee is valid for twelve months from the date of the initial application. If an applicant is initially unsuccessful in obtaining a visa, he/she may apply again for the same or different program within twelve months without having to pay the SEVIS fee again as long as the SEVIS fee payment made meets the fee required for the same or different program.