What You Need to Know About the New
Federal SEVIS Fee
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal SEVIS Fee took effect on September 1, 2004. The fee of $200.00 is generally a one-time fee (see exceptions, below) and is required of those who are applying for an F-1 visa based on an I-20 issued for "initial attendance" or “change of status”. Proof of fee payment must be presented at the visa interview or when change of status application is mail out to the appropriate USCIS office.
Who Has to Pay the SEVIS Fee?
SEVIS Fee Rules
The SEVIS fee must be processed at least three business days before the visa interview, unless you have a printed receipt from an Internet payment.
The SEVIS fee cannot be paid at the embassy or consulate, or at the U.S. Border.
A visa will not be issued unless the visa officer can verify that the SEVIS fee payment has been made. However, you may schedule your visa interview prior to paying the SEVIS fee.
The SEVIS fee is not refundable. If your visa application is denied, and you decide to re-apply for the same type of visa at a later date, you will not be asked to make a second SEVIS fee payment as long as your visa application is made within 12 months of the initial denial.
How to Pay the SEVIS Fee
Payment of the SEVIS fee may be made by you or by any other individual, either in the United States or abroad, including family or friends. However, anyone paying the fee on your behalf will need to have a copy of your I-20 and a completed copy of Form I-901.
Procedure for Paying the SEVIS Fee
Paying on the Internet
MasterCard, Visa, or American Express debit or credit cards are accepted. It does not matter if the card was issued in the United States or overseas. Follow the on-line instructions, include the required credit card information, and print out the payment screen to verify your payment. The printed receipt should be presented at the visa interview or at the U.S. port of entry as proof of payment.
Thus, when paying the fee on the Internet, it is essential that your printer be ready before starting the payment process. Do not exit the receipt page until you have successfully printed the receipt. You will not be able to return to the receipt page.
Paying by Mail
Your payment must be in U.S. dollars by check, money order or bank draft, drawn on a U.S. bank. Your check, bank draft or money order should be made payable to: "I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee." Also, be sure to print your name and SEVIS ID number in the lower left-hand corner of the check, money order or bank draft.
The need for a check, bank draft or money order in U.S. dollars drawn on a U.S. bank does not mean that only a U.S. bank can issue the document. Many foreign banks are able to issue checks or money orders drawn on a U.S. bank, because they are chartered in the United States, or because they are foreign subsidiaries of a U.S. bank, or because they have arrangements with a U.S. bank to issue a check, money order, or foreign draft that is drawn on a U.S. bank.
Payment by mail is not the recommended process for fee payment from abroad, as it can take as long as four weeks from the day you mail in the fee to the day that you receive the required receipt in the mail if you are applying from outside the United States, unless you pay for courier service.
Showing Proof of SEVIS Fee Payment
at the Visa Interview
You must be able to prove that the fee has been paid when you appear for your visa interview, and when you enter the United States. This is done by presenting a printed receipt, either from the Internet if you made an on-line payment, or a mailed receipt if you paid by mail.
Visa officers and U.S. port-of entry inspectors should be able to verify SEVIS fee payment electronically three business days after payment is processed, but in case of problems, having a printed receipt is the best evidence of fee payment. If you lose or did not receive a receipt for fee payment, the U.S. government does retain an electronic record that the fee has been paid.
A visa will not be issued
unless verification of the
For detailed information on the SEVIS fee payment process, and for a list of frequently asked questions, visit: http://www.ice.gov/graphics/sevis/i901/index.htm