Beginning September 1, 2004, a new United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule went into effect. This rule requires F-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 SEVIS fee is in addition to any visa fees you may be required to pay at a U.S. consulate. F-2 dependent family members are not required to pay the fee. This fee is not a College Application fee and provides no funds or services to the College. The following information specifically addresses fee issues 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 U.S.
- Citizens of Canada and certain islands exempt from visa requirements must pay the fee at least 3 business days prior to entering the U.S. at a U.S. port of entry
- 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
What about my F-2 dependents?
F-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.
When do I pay the SEVIS fee?
The fee must be paid at least 3 business days prior to applying for your visa at a U.S. consulate. Citizens of Canada and certain islands exempt from visa requirements must pay the fee at least 3 business days prior to entering the U.S. at a U.S. port of entry. The fee must be paid prior to submission of a change of status petition or reinstatement application.
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, the Internet, or at a local participating Western Union Agent location. You will need a Form Z-901. (Note: Some consulates in China and India may be able to collect the SEVIS fee together with visa fees. Please contact the U.S. consulate for fee payment information.)
How do I pay the fee?
The fee can be paid to the DHS by mail or online 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
- Go to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website at:
SEVIS I-901 fee processing website
and click on "Proceed to I-901 Form and Payment". Payment can be made by Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.
- Read through the "Form Selection" page and click "Check Status".
- Enter your name exactly as it appears on your I-20.
- Enter the SEVIS ID number on your I-20 (found in the upper right corner above the bar code).
- If you have been admitted to more than one school and have more than one I-20, only enter information for the school you will attend in the U.S. Changing schools or documents can cause delays and problems in obtaining a visa or entering the U.S.
- Enter the school code <LOS 214F 00714000> as a reference number.
- Print the online receipt after completing the payment form.
To Pay By Mail
- Obtain a Form I-901 “Fee Remittance for Certain F, J, and M Nonimmigrant.”
- Download the Form I-901
- Request the form by phone at 1-800-870-3676 (inside the US)
- Download the Form I-901
- 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 only*) 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.
To Pay Through Western Union
This option is available in any country where Western Union offers Quick Pay service. The Western Union office collects the SEVIS I-901 fee in local currency, along with the needed Form I-901 data, and electronically transmits the payment and data to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Western Union office then issues a receipt that serves as immediate proof of payment for a visa interview at a U.S. consulate or for admission at a U.S. port of entry. Western Union's Quick Pay form must be completed in exact detail, following instructions developed by DHS and Western Union. These detailed payment instructions, including samples of properly completed Quick Pay forms, are posted on the Web at:ICE SEVIS I-901 Fee
To find a local Western Union office, go to:Western Union Locator
- After paying the fee, you will receive a payment receipt (form I-797). If paying online, be sure to print the receipt at the end of your transaction.
- Make and keep extra copies of your SEVIS fee payment receipt. You should keep your receipt for your entire period of study in the U.S.
- Present a copy of the receipt with your visa application at the U.S. consulate and at the U.S. port of entry. Carry the receipt with you during any future travel into the U.S.
- F-2 dependent family members should present a copy of the receipt when applying for F-2 visas and when traveling into the U.S.
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.
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 apply for an F-1 visa, change of status or reinstatement?
- Obtain the appropriate Form I-20 from a DHS-approved school.
- 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
- 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.
What if my F-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.