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SEVIS Fee Facts

New Students & Exchange Visitors

What is the SEVIS fee?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is mandated by the US Congress to cover the costs of the SEVIS program. The fee will pay for the operating costs of SEVIS and additional SEVIS liaison officers who will be a resource for schools and students. The fee is a Department of Homeland Security fee. It is not a school fee or a visa (Department of State) fee.

How much is the SEVIS Fee and who pays it?
The SEVIS fee is a one-time charge. It will be paid by all F-1, F-3, J-1 and M-1 visitors whose initial I-20 or DS-2019 was issued on or after 1 September 2004. Dependents do not pay the fee.

How do I pay the SEVIS Fee?
The SEVIS fee may be paid by mail or electronically by submitting Form I-901.

If you are paying by mail, your payment must be made by US Money order or a check drawn on a US Bank. The check must be in US dollars. This does not mean you have to have a US bank account. Many of the larger banks in your country will have agreements with US Banks and can provide you with a check drawn on a US Bank. DO NOT SEND CASH THROUGH THE MAIL.

If you are paying electronically, you must use a credit card. To access the I-901 Form electronically, go to the following website: www.FMJfee.com.

Note: For students and visitors from China and India enquire at your consulate, a pilot program allows you to pay the fee in the country. You may also use either method described above.

When do I pay the SEVIS Fee?
The SEVIS fee must be paid after you have received your I-20 or DS-2019 and prior to your visa appointment. To ensure that your payment has been recorded in the system, make sure that you pay the fee no later than 3 days prior to your visa appointment. If you are paying electronically, you will be able to print out a receipt immediately that you can take to the consulate as proof of payment. While this may be done less than 3 days prior to a visa interview, do not delay, as there could be computer problems that prevent you from paying or getting a receipt. If you have paid by mail, DHS will express mail you a receipt.

In general, it is a good idea to make your visa appointment first, then pay your SEVIS fee shortly thereafter to be sure that your dossier will be complete in advance of your visa interview.

What if I am Canadian?
Canadian citizens do not need a visa stamp to enter the United States. You will need to make sure that you pay the fee in a timely way. Payment of the fee will be verified at the port of entry. If you do not have proof, such as a receipt from an electronic or mail payment, make sure that you pay at least 3 days in advance of your entry date. However, we recommend that you pay as early as possible and that you bring proof of payment to the border.

How do I prove to the consulate or border inspector that I paid the fee?
In general, consulates and ports of entry should be able to verify fee payment if you have paid at least 3 days in advance of your visa interview (or for Canadians at the port of entry). However, bring proof with you. If you have paid you will be able to show a paper receipt. If you have not received your receipt, bring a copy of the check you sent. SEVIS fee payment is a new process, do not count on all consulates and border posts to have access to electronic records. Bring proof of payment and retain it for your records.

What if someone else wants to pay the fee for me?
A third party such as a sponsoring agency, school or department can pay the SEVIS fee for you. Make sure that you are in touch with this third party and get a receipt and proof of payment. Friends or family can also pay the fee for you.

How long is the SEVIS fee good for? What if I am denied a visa?
The SEVIS fee is good for 12 months from the date of payment. If you do not obtain a visa within that time, you will have to begin the process over again and repay the fee.

Please note: students and exchange visitors may also have to pay another fee if they change their visa classification (for example F to J) or J program category (for example short-term scholar to the researcher).

What if my SEVIS fee is paid using the I-20 or DS-2019 from school A and I am sent another I-20 or DS-2019 from school B and would like to attend school B?
You may apply the SEVIS fee to school B. It is strongly advised that you bring both I-20s or DS-2019s to the consulate for visa issuance so that they can verify that both documents apply to you and that the fee has been paid. Your visa should be issued using the I-20 or DS-2019 for the school you wish to attend.

Current MSU Students & Exchange Visitors

What is the SEVIS fee?
The Department of Homeland Security is mandated by the US Congress to cover the costs of the SEVIS program. The fee will pay for the operating costs of the SEVIS and additional SEVIS liaison officers who will be a resource for schools and students. The fee is a Department of Homeland Security fee. It is not a school fee or a visa (Department of State) fee.

How much is the SEVIS Fee and who pays it?
The SEVIS fee is a charge that is paid by all F-1, F-3, and J-1 visitors whose initial I-20 or DS-2019 was issued on or after 1 September 2004. Dependents do not pay the fee. Continuing students and scholars whose program began prior to 1 September 2004 will not have to pay the SEVIS fee.

Are there some cases in which I would have to pay the SEVIS fee?
Yes. If you apply for a change of status to F-1 or J-1 you will have to pay the fee. If you apply for a change of category within the J program (example: student to the researcher or short-term scholar to researcher) you will need to pay the fee. Also, If you are absent from the US for an extended period and will need a new visa or a new "initial" I-20 or DS-2019, you may need to pay the fee. Also, if you fall out of status in the US and apply for reinstatement, you will need to pay the fee.

If I need to pay the SEVIS fee, how do I pay it?
The SEVIS fee may be paid by mail or electronically by submitting Form I-901.
If you are paying by mail, your payment must be by US Money order or a check drawn on a US Bank. The check must be in US dollars. This does not mean you have to have a US bank account. Many of the larger banks in your country will have agreements with US Banks and can provide you with a check drawn on a US Bank. DO NOT SEND CASH THROUGH THE MAIL.
If you are paying electronically, you must use a credit card. To access the I-901 Form electronically, go to the following website: www.FMJfee.com.

When do I pay the SEVIS Fee?
The SEVIS fee must be paid prior to visa issuance or change of status. To ensure that your payment has been received, make sure that you pay the fee no later than 3 days prior to your visa appointment. If you are changing your status in the country, pay the fee prior to sending in your change of status application. If you are paying electronically, you will be able to print out a receipt immediately that you can take to the consulate as proof of payment or include with your change of status application.

If you are outside the country and need a new visa, it is a good idea to make your visa appointment first, then pay your SEVIS fee shortly thereafter to be sure that your dossier will be complete in advance of your visa interview.

What if I am Canadian?
Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the United States. You will need to make sure that you pay the fee in a timely way. Payment of the fee will be verified at the port of entry. If you do not have proof, such as a receipt from an electronic or mail payment, make sure that you pay at least 3 days in advance of your entry date. However, we recommend that you pay as early as possible and that you bring proof of payment to the border.

How do I prove to the consulate, service center or border inspector that I paid the fee?
In general, consulates, services centers, and ports of entry should be able to verify fee payment if you have paid at least 3 days in advance of your visa interview (or for Canadians at the port of entry). However, bring proof with you. If you have paid electronically, you will be able to show a receipt. If you paid via mail, you will also be sent a receipt. If you have not received your receipt, bring a copy of the check you sent. SEVIS fee payment is a new process, do not count on all consulates and border posts to have access to electronic records. Bring proof of payment.

What if someone else wants to pay the fee for me?
A third party such as a sponsoring agency, school or department can pay the SEVIS fee for you. Make sure that you are in touch with this third party and get a receipt and proof of payment. Friends or family can also pay the fee for you.

How long is the SEVIS fee good for? What if I am denied a visa?
The SEVIS fee is good for 12 months. If you do not obtain a visa in time, you will have to begin the process over again and repay the fee.

Please note: students and exchange visitors may also have to pay another fee if they change their visa classification (for example F to J) or J program category (for example short-term scholar to the researcher).

MSU Departments, Units & Admissions

What is the SEVIS Fee?
The Department of Homeland Security is mandated by the US Congress to cover the costs of the SEVIS program. The fee will pay for the operating costs of the SEVIS and additional SEVIS liaison officers who will be a resource for schools and students. The fee is a Department of Homeland Security fee. It is not a school fee or a visa (Department of State) fee.

How much is the SEVIS Fee and who pays it?
The SEVIS fee is a charge in addition to the visa fee. It will be paid by all F-1 and J-1 visitors whose initial I-20 or DS-2019 was issued on or after 1 September 2004. Dependents do not pay the fee. Continuing students and scholars whose program began prior to 1 September 2004 will not have to pay the SEVIS fee in most cases unless they are changing their visa status, switching their J category or coming back from a long absence.

Please note that students coming for fall 2004 (unless they are admitted extremely late and issued an I-20 or DS-2019 after 1 September, will not have to pay the fee. This will most likely affect J scholars first, as scholars can begin a new program at any time during the year.

Will SEVIS fee payment delay student and scholar arrival on campus?
The SEVIS fee can be paid after the student/scholar receives the I-20/DS-2019 while waiting for a visa appointment. The fee will be recorded instantly with electronic payment and will take 3 days (from receipt of payment) to post with regular mail payment. At this time it does not look like the fee will slow down the visa/arrival process as long as it is paid in advance of the visa appointment. Are students/scholars likely to pay the fee with the first I-20/DS-2019 they receive? Yes. However, students/scholars can apply the SEVIS fee to any school's I-20 or DS-2019 prior to visa stamp issuance.

Can the SEVIS fee be paid by a third party?
Yes, departments, schools or individuals can pay the SEVIS fee on behalf of an individual. To access the I-901 Form electronically, go to the following website: www.FMJfee.com. If you choose to pay the fee on behalf of an individual make sure that the student/scholar has got a paper copy of the receipt.

After paying the SEVIS fee for a student/scholar, can s/he decide to attend another school?
Yes, a student/scholar can apply the SEVIS fee payment to any school at the time of visa issuance. Departments should be aware of the risk they run in paying the fee upfront for a student or scholar who might end up choosing another school. In these cases, there is no reimbursement mechanism.

How long is the SEVIS fee good for? What if the student or scholar is denied a visa?
The SEVIS fee is good for 12 months from the date of payment. If the student or scholar does not obtain a visa in time, they will have to begin the process over again and repay the fee.

What are other schools doing?
Yale and Maryland have decided (at this writing) to pay the SEVIS fee for all of their international students. OISS and others on campus will have to stay tuned to find out if this becomes a factor in student recruitment and what steps may need to be taken.