SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, is the U.S. government's tracking system that allows various U.S. agencies (overseas U.S. Consulates, border patrol agents at the U.S. borders and airports, the Department of Homeland Security, and others) to see up-to-date information about international students and scholars in F, J, and M visa status, their academic activities, and their accompanying family members. On July 1, 2004, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the Final Rule implementing collection of a $100 SEVIS fee to support this program. All F-1 and M-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors with initial documents issued on or after September 1, 2004 are subject to this fee. On October 27, 2008 the fee will increase to $180 for J-1 exchange visitors and to $200 for F-1 and M-1 students. Each SEVIS fee payment must be accompanied by a completed Form I-901, which is available on the SEVIS fee payment web site. The fee payment must be associated with a Form I-901 so that the payment can be linked to a specific nonimmigrant record in SEVIS.
1. Form I-901 may be completed and submitted on-line and the SEVIS fee may be charged to a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express). A receipt can and should be printed by the payer from the Web and brought by the scholar to the U.S. Consulate at the time of visa application. The receipt should also be carried and shown to immigration officials at the U.S. port of entry.
2. Form I-901 may be submitted by mail with a check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank and payable in U.S. currency. Form I-901 should be downloaded from the SEVIS I-901 Fee page of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website and sent with the payment via regular mail to the payment collection site (the post office box listed on the I-901). [Caution: Many express mail and courier companies will not deliver to P.O. boxes.] A receipt will then be mailed to the address indicated by the payer. This alternative payment method can take many weeks and is subject to the reliability of the mail. It is meant to provide a fee payment option for individuals who do not have access to the Internet. The receipt should also be carried and shown to immigration officials at the U.S. port of entry.
3. International scholars in many countries may pay the SEVIS fee in local currency using the Western Union Quick Pay service. More information and instructions can be found on the SEVIS I-901 Fee page of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website. http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/
The fee must be paid prior to applying for a visa stamp, but the applicant
can schedule an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before actually
paying the fee. Whether paying on-line or by mail, the payment must be received
by DHS at least three business days before the date the alien reports to the
consulate to submit the visa application and undergo a visa interview. Payment
may be made anytime after issuance of the Form DS-2019, and up until three
business days before application for a visa or application for admission.
For Canadian nationals, who do not require a visa stamp to enter the United States, payment must be received by DHS at least three business days before the scholar applies at the port of entry (airport or land border crossing) for admission to the United States.
Individuals applying through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services service centers for "change of status" to J-1 status must pay the SEVIS fee before the service center will approve their applications.
In 1996, the President signed the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) into law. The law required that a system be put in place to track foreign students and exchange visitors. The system was mandated to be self-supporting by collection of a fee from all international students, scholars, alien physicians, specialists, au pairs, camp counselors, flight trainees, and international visitors applying for F, J, or M visa status. After the events of September 11, 2001, development of the tracking system was expedited. SEVIS became operational in January of 2003. At that time, collection of the fee was postponed until a viable payment system could be developed. On July 1, 2004, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the Final Rule implementing collection of the $100 SEVIS fee. On October 27, 2008 the fee will increase to $180 for J-1 exchange visitors and to $200 for F-1 and M-1 students.
Last Modified: February 10, 2011