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What is the SEVIS Fee?
On September 1, 2004, a United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule went into effect that requires F-1 and J-1 visa applicants to pay a one-time fee to supplement the administration and maintenance costs of the Student and Exchange Information System (SEVIS). The following information specifically addresses this fee for F-1 students.
Who pays the SEVIS fee?
The SEVIS fee is not required when transferring schools, changing to another degree program or level, requesting a program extension, renewing an F-1 visa or using F-1 program benefits such as practical training. If you are in status when you travel internationally and are not physically outside of the U.S. for more than five months, you will not be required to pay the fee.
The fee must be paid at least 3 business days prior to applying for your visa, or applying for admission at a US port-of-entry for those exempt from the visa requirement. The fee must be paid prior to submission of a change of status petition or reinstatement application. But I recommend allowing enough time to deal with any delays you may experience.
For more information on the SEVIS fee visit the US Immigration & Customs Enforcement webpage: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/index.htm