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?

  • Prospective students with “initial attendance” I-20s dated on or after 9/1/2004 who are applying for an “initial ” F-1 visa from outside the US.  If you are exempt from the visa requirement (for example, citizens of Canada), the SEVIS Fee must be paid BEFORE entry to the U.S. and the receipt will need to be shown at the Port of Entry when processing your I-20 for initial attendance.
  • Prospective students with “initial attendance” I-20s dated on or after 9/1/2004 who are applying for a change to F-1 status from another visa category
  • 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 9/1/04

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