SEVIS Fee Requirement: F-1 Students–

Beginning September 1, 2004, a new United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule goes into effect.  This rule requires F-1 and J-1 visa applicants to pay a one-time fee of $200 to supplement the administration and maintenance costs of the Student and Exchange Information System (SEVIS). 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 US
  • 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

Will other F-1 students in the US have to pay?

No, unless the student’s circumstances change so that he or she fits one of the categories mentioned above.

What about my F-2 dependents?

F-2 dependents do not have to pay the fee, even if the I-20 that the F-2 dependents use is issued on or after 9/1/2004

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, 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.

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 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. from at

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. 

What do I need to do to apply for an F-1 visa, change of status or reinstatement?

Obtain the appropriate forms and I-20 from the DHS approved school official (International Advisor) for which you plan to apply.

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.

For more information regarding the new SEVIS fee requirement or other visa-related matters, contact the International Programs Office.   




Applicants for student visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence.  Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.

A.  Required Documentation:

  1. A visa application Form OF-156, completed and signed.  Blank forms are available at all U.S. consular offices.
  2. A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States.
  3. One photograph 1 and ½ inches square (37x37mm), showing full face, without head covering, against a light background.
  4. For the “F” applicant, a Form I-20.
  5. SEVIS Fee proof of payment.

B.  Other Documentation:


Student visa applicants must establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer that they have a permanent residence and other ties in their countries that would compel them to leave the United States at the end of the temporary stay.  The United States immigration law requires consular officers to view every visa applicant as an intending immigrant until the applicant proves otherwise.

Some examples of ties can be a job, a house, a family, and a bank account.  “Ties” are the various aspects of a person’s life that bind him or her to his or her country of residence – possessions, employment, social and family relationships.

In cases of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to form many ties, consular officers many look at the applicant’s specific intentions, family situations, and long-range plans and prospects within his or her country of residence.

C. Background Requirements


  1. Scholastic Preparation – The student visa applicant must have successfully completed a course of study normally required for enrollment.  Also, the student must be sufficiently proficient in English to pursue the intended course of study, unless he or she is coming to participate in an English-language training program.
  2. Financial Resources – Applicants must prove that sufficient funds are or will be available from an identified and reliable financial source to defray all living and school expenses during the entire period of anticipated study in the United States


If the visa is approved, the student’s passport will be stamped with the visa.  The visa allows a student to travel to the United States.  The visa included the place and date of issue, the expiration date, the number of entries allowed, the classification of the visa, and a visa number.  The visa is a paper with photo ID that is affixed by computer to a page in the passport.

When the student picks up the passport with the visa, the student will receive a sealed envelope, which contains the Form I-20.


ATTENTION!  Applicants need to be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States.  The immigration department has the authority to deny admission.  Also, the immigration department, not the consular officer, determines the period for which a student is authorized to remain in the United States.  At the port of entry, an immigration official validates Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which noted the length of stay permitted.

*While on flight to the United States, the student will be given Form I-94 -Record of Arrival and Departure  to complete.

*At the port of entry to the United States, the student will present the following documents to the immigration officer:  valid passport and visa; sealed envelope with the I-20; completed I-94; and other information as requested by the officer, such as financial information and acceptance letter.

*The immigration officer will do the following:                                                            

  1. Stamp the passport to show date of arrival into the United States.                      
  2. Return the I-94 and Departure Record properly stamped along with the I-20 to the student.