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Maintaining status/enrollment

SEVIS Fee Information for Current MSU Students and 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 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: .

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 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 researcher).

For more information contact OISS and check our website for updates.

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