On September 1, 2004 a new United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule starts. This rule says that people who want F-1 and J-1 visas have to pay a one-time fee of $200. This fee helps pay for SEVIS (Student and Exchange Information System) that U.S. schools use to make I-20 forms. If you are applying for a new visa, you may have to pay any applicable visa application fees.
Please read this information carefully.
Who pays the SEVIS fee?
New students with I-20s marked for “initial attendance” that were issued on or after September 1, 2004 who are applying for an new F-1 visa from outside the US.
New students with I-20s marked for “initial attendance” that were issued on or after September 1, 2004 who are applying for a change to F-1 status from another status (B-2 for example).
Current F-1 students in the US filing for reinstatement after being out of status more than 5 months, and who are issued an I-20 issued for reinstatement that is dated on or after September 1, 2004.
Canadians (who do not need an F-1 visa to enter the U.S.) should take a copy of the SEVIS fee receipt to present at the port of entry with the appropriate I-20. It will not be possible to pay the fee at the port of entry.
Can someone else (friend or family member) pay the fee for me?
Yes. But you should have a copy of the fee payment receipt that proves that they paid the fee for you.
Will continuing F-1 students in the US have to pay?
No, unless the student falls out of status for more than 5 months and applies for reinstatement after, or is outside the U.S. for more than 5 months.
What about my F-2 dependents?
F-2 dependents do not have to pay the fee
Do I have to pay if I stay in the U.S. but transfer to another school or if I change levels (example: ESL to undergraduate study)?
Do I have to pay the fee if I travel outside the US?
If you travel outside the U.S. for more than a 5 month period, then you will need to pay the fee. If you travel outside for less than a 5 month period, you do not need to pay the fee. If you are a continuing student, you will not need to pay the fee, even if you have to renew your visa stamp.
When do I pay the SEVIS fee?
The fee should be paid at least 3 business days before you apply for your visa, change of status or reinstatement application.
Can I pay the SEVIS fee at a university, consulate or port of entry/airport?
No. At this time the SEVIS fee can only be paid by mail or the Internet.
How do I pay the fee?
The fee can be paid to the DHS by mail or online. You must include the Form I-901 with the fee. The fee can be paid by the student or by someone else (family member or friend) inside or outside the US.
To Pay By Mail
Get a Form I-901 “Fee Remittance for Certain F, J, and M Nonimmigrants.”
Download the form from http://http://www.fmjfee.com/ OR Ask for the form by phone at 1-800-870-3676 (inside the US)
Complete the Form I-901. Be sure to write your name exactly how it appears on your I-20 form.
Prepare a check, international money order or foreign draft (drawn on US banks only) in the amount of $100 USD, made payable to “The Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
Mail the completed I-901 and payment to the address listed on Form I-901.
A Form I-797 receipt confirmation notice should be mailed within 3 days of processing the fee. . Be sure to make copies of this receipt notice, and keep it with your other important immigration documents
Complete the form online and supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information. *Be sure to write your name exactly how it appears on your I-20 form.
Print a copy of the online receipt.
Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents
*If you pay the SEVIS fee by Internet, you can print a receipt directly from your computer at the same time. This computer-generated receipt can be used to prove you have paid the fee at an embassy, consular post, or port-of-entry.
*If you mail the fee, then you must wait at least 3 business days after DHS receives your payment before trying to apply for your visa. DHS will mail you a paper receipt (called an I-797) to be used as evidence that you paid the fee, but there should also be an electronic record of your fee payment in the US Consulate’s database. If there is an electronic record of fee payment in the database, you will not need to show your paper receipt (Form I-797) to apply for the visa or enter the US. However, due to potential technical problems, it is strongly recommended that you wait for a copy of the paper fee payment receipt before making a visa application.
The paper receipt (Form I-797) is mailed to the address you wrote on Form I-901. If you want to pay more, you can ask DHS to express mail your receipt. Or you can wait until the receipt is mailed to via regular postal service.
Will the DHS keep a record of my payment on file?
Fee payments should be entered into your permanent immigration (SEVIS) record but it is strongly recommended that you keep a copy of your fee receipt (form I-797) to use in the future.
I applied to more than one school, and have more than one I-20 form. What happens if I pay the SEVIS fee for one school, and then I change my mind and decide that I want to attend the other school? Can I move my SEVIS fee to the new school?
Yes. But you should bring the I-20 form with the SEVIS ID number that you used to pay the fee with you to the U.S. consulate/embassy. For change of status or reinstatement applications, please see next question
What do I need to do to apply for an F-1 visa, change of status or reinstatement?
Get a Form I-20 from the school that you want to attend.
Pay the SEVIS fee by mail or online.
Make a copy of the I-797 (mail) or computer receipt (online) for your records.
Submit a copy of the I-797 or computer receipt with your visa, change of status or reinstatement application OR
For change of status or reinstatement applications, if you previously paid the SEVIS fee while attending a different school, you should submit a copy of that school’s I-20 form and a copy of the fee payment receipt with your application.
What if my F-1 visa application is denied?
The SEVIS fee will not be refunded, but if you apply again for an F-1/J-1 visa within 12 months of a visa denial you will not have to pay the fee again.
For more information regarding the new SEVIS fee requirement or other visa-related matters, contact ELI Pleasantville office at email@example.com.