F-1 & M-1 Students and the SEVIS Fee
Download this information as handout here
SEVIS Fee Requirement: F-1 (& M-1) Students
SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, is a central computerized system that maintains and manages data about foreign students (F-1, J-1 and M-1), exchange visitors (J-1), and their dependents (F-2, J-2 and M-2) during their stay in the United States. The SEVIS program was implemented a year ago for all international students and scholars.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges a fee of $200 for all new F-1 and M-1 applicants. The fee is required by DHS and is used to cover the costs of the operation of the SEVIS program.
The following information specifically addresses fee issues for F-1 (and M-1) students.
Who pays the SEVIS fee?
- Prospective students with “initial attendance” I-20s who are applying for an “initial ” F-1 visa (or M-1) from outside the US. (Since Canadians are not required to get a visa stamp, they will be required to pay the fee before going to the port of entry. The fee cannot be paid at the port of entry.)
- Prospective students with “initial attendance” I-20s who are applying for a change to F-1 status (or M-1) 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.
Who does NOT have to pay the fee?
- Continuing F-1 or M-1 students do not have to pay the fee unless circumstances change so that he or she fits one of the categories mentioned above.
What about my F-2 (or M-2) dependents?
- F-2 (or M-2) dependents do not have to pay the fee
Do I have to pay if I transfer to another school, travel outside the US or renew my visa?
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.
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? Is my paid SEVIS fee transferable?
Yes. But you must submit the I-20 form with the SEVIS ID number that you listed on the I-901 form 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 if I fit in to one of the categories above of those who must pay the SEVIS fee?
- Follow the payment option directions below.
- 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
- Students who are exempt from visa requirements, such as Canadians, 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.
When do I pay the SEVIS fee?
- The fee must be paid at least 3 business days prior to applying for your visa
- or 3 business days prior to applying for admission at a US port-of-entry for those exempt from the visa requirement (Canadians)
- The fee must be paid prior to submission of a change of status petition or reinstatement application (for those who have been out of status for more than 5 months)
What if my F-1 (or M-1) visa application is denied?
The SEVIS fee will not be refunded. However, if you reapply for a new F-1 visa within 12 months of the denial, you will not have to pay the fee again.
Can I pay the SEVIS fee at a university, consulate or port of entry?
No. At this time the SEVIS fee can only be processed by the Department of Homeland Security via mail or the Internet.
How do I pay the fee?
The fee can be paid to the DHS on line (STRONGLY RECOMMENDED) or by mail and must be accompanied by a Form I-901. It can be paid by you or by a third party, inside or outside the US.
To Pay Online
- Find the Form I-901 at www.FMJfee.com
- Complete the form online and supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information. *Be sure to write your name exactly as 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
To Pay By Mail
- Obtain a Form I-901 “Fee Remittance for Certain F, J, and M Nonimmigrants.”
- Download the form from www.FMJfee.com
- Or request the form by phone at 1-800-870-3676 (inside the US)
- Complete the Form I-901. Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form.
- Prepare a check, international money order or foreign draft (drawn on US banks only1) in the amount of $200 USD, made payable to “The Department of Homeland Security”**
- Mail the completed I-901 and payment to the address listed on Form I-901).
- A Form I-797 receipt notice should be mailed within 3 days of processing the fee. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents
** Many foreign banks are able to issue checks or money orders drawn on a U.S. bank. You may therefore obtain a check from: 1) a bank chartered or operated in the United States; b) a foreign subsidiary of a U.S. bank, or c) a foreign bank that has an arrangement with a U.S. bank to issue a check, money order, or foreign draft that is drawn on a U.S. bank
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 retain a copy of your fee receipt (form I-797) to use as needed.
Further information on the SEVIS fee is available at the following web sites:
Other Helpful Links: