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SEVIS is one component of a large and complex number of changes that have been made to US immigration policies and procedures in recent years. Others include the establishment of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You will see these organizations names come up many times in the other sections of our web site.

Who has to pay the SEVIS fee?

  • New students and exchange visitors who use a Form I-20 or DS-2019 to gain initial F-1 or J-1 status
  • Students who have been studying in the U.S, and who leave the U.S. on leave (non academic) will have to pay the fee before they return to the U.S., unless the absence was on account of participation in an authorized study-abroad program.
  • Individuals who are in the U.S. and wish to change to F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor status from another nonimmigrant status.

Who does not have to pay the SEVIS fee?

  • F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors who are now in the U.S. and have paid the fee once, even if they travel abroad or apply for a renewal of their visas.
  • A new SEVIS fee does not have to be paid by continuing students and scholars who request benefits including extension of stay, school transfer, change in educational level, or Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • Dependents in F-2 or J-2 status do not pay the SEVIS fee.

When do students and exchange visitors pay the fee?

  • F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors needing a visa to enter the U.S. must pay the SEVIS fee before going to the U.S. consulate for their interview.
  • Canadian citizens must pay the fee before applying for F-1 or J-1 status at a port of entry into the U.S.
  • Nonimmigrants currently in the U.S. who apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to change to F-1 or J-1 status must pay the fee prior to filing their change of status application.

How do students and exchange visitors pay the fee?

  • See SEVIS I-901 Fee Payment for detailed instructions and a list of options for paying the SEVIS fee.
  • You must present your SEVIS fee payment receipt at the time of visa application
  • It is currently not possible to pay the SEVIS fee at a U.S. embassy or consulate, or at a U.S. port of entry (except for Canadian citizens)
  • The SEVIS fee is non-refundable. However, if the visa is denied, the fee will not have to be repaid if a subsequent visa application is submitted within 12 months of the initial denial.