Please Read ALL the information carefully BEFORE attempting to secure a visa appointment at the Embassy Consulate in your country. The F-1 visa process and required fees has changed!
Who pays the SEVIS fee?
- Prospective students with “initial attendance” I-20s dated on or after 10/1/2008 who are applying for an “initial” F-1 visa from outside the US
- Prospective students with “initial attendance” I-20s dated on or after 10/1/08 who are applying for a change to F-1 status from another visa category
Do I have to pay if I transfer to another school, travel outside the US or renew my visa?
No, 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 the U.S. for more than 5 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.
How do I pay the fee?
The fee can be paid to the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) by mail or on-line. In some countries it is also possible to pay in local currency at a Western Union
To pay On-line by credit card
1. Find the Form I-901 “Fee remittance for Certain F, J and M Non-immigrants” at http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/index.htm
2. Complete the form on-line and supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information.
*Be sure to write your name EXACTLY as it appears on your I-20 form.
1. Print a copy of the online receipt
2. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.
To pay by mail using the paper form I-901
1. Obtain a paper version of the Form I-901 “Fee remittance for Certain F, J and M Non-immigrants” from http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/index.htm
2. Complete the Form I-901. Be sure to write your name EXACTLY as it appears on your I-20 form.
3. Prepare a check, international money order or foreign draft (drawn on US banks only) in the amount of $200 USD, made payable to “The Department of Homeland Security”
4. Mail the completed I-901 and payment to the address listed on Form I-901
5. A Form I-797 receipt notice should be mailed within 3 days of processing the fee. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.
*Many foreign banks are unable to issue checks or money orders drawn on a U.S. bank. You may, therefore, obtain a check form: 1) a bank chartered or operated in the United States, 2) a foreign subsidiary of a U.S. bank, or 3) a foreign bank that has an arrangement with a U.S. bank to issue a check, money order or foreign draft that is drawn on a U.S. bank.
To pay at a Western Union in Your Home Country Using Local Currency
1. This option is available in more than 130 countries where Western Union offers its Quick PayTM service.
2. Read the instructions for this payment option on the SEVP website at http://www.ice.gov/sevis and bring a printed copy of the instructions and the sample of the completed Western 3. Union form, also on the website, to the western union Agent in order to correctly process the payment.
4. The properly completed Western Union receipt serves as immediate proof-of-payment.
5. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.
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 consulate/embassy.
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 denial, you will not have to pay the fee again.
Tips for a successful interview with the U.S. Consulate
We are sure that you will be successful in your visa interview, but here are some tips to prepare you.
- Anticipate that the interview will be in English. You may want to practice your English conversation with a native speaker of English before the interview.
- Make a good first impression with the consular officer. Be organized and keep answers to the point.
- Don’t bring family members to the interview with you. Be prepared to speak on your own behalf.
- Keep a positive attitude. Do not argue with the consular officer. If you are denied, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring with you next time, and try to get the reason you were denied – in writing.
- Do not concede, under any circumstance, that you want or intend to work in the United States during or after completing your studies. Government regulations prohibit off-campus work during your studies and special permission is required for working after the completion of your studies.
- Know that your spouse and children cannot work either.
Please note: the time required to obtain a F – 1 student visa from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate varies from country to country. Please allow adequate time for visa procurement before your planned departure for the U.S. It is recommended that two months in advance is a good time to start the process.
What do I need to do to apply for an F-1 visa? (Or, change of status or reinstatement?)
- Obtain the appropriate Form I-20 from a DHS approved school and sign it with your signature
- Bring your letter of acceptance (our letter to you informing you of your acceptance to FMCC)
- Financial documentation (with original signatures) indicating the name of the sponsor, the name of the student, and the existence of funds for at least the first year of study
- Pay the SEVIS fee by mail, on-line, or western Union
- Make a copy of the I-797 (mail) or computer receipt or Western union receipt with your visa or change of status application OR
- Students who are exempt from visa requirements, such as Canadians, should take a copy of the SEVIS fee receipt to present at the port of entry with the appropriate I-20. It will not be possible to pay the fee at the port-of-entry.
- For change of status or reinstatement applications, if you previously paid the SEVIS fee while attending a different school, you should submit a copy of that school’s I-20 form with your application.
Note: The consul may also require: Secondary School records and Evidence of good health