What is a Visa?
A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of entry and request permission from the U.S. immigration officer to enter the United States. It does not guarantee entry into the U.S. For more information about the definition of a visa, as well as policies and procedures regarding visas, please visit Destination USA.
What type of visa do I need to become an academic student in the United States?
Most non-U.S. citizens who wish to study in the United States will seek an F-1 (non-immigrant) student visa, but there are other visa types that are sometimes authorized for those who study in the U.S. Here is a short description of the different visa types that involve study:
- F-1, or Student Visa: This visa is the most common for those who wish to engage in academic studies in the United States. It is for people who want to study at an accredited U.S. college or university or to study English at a university or intensive English language institute.
- J-1, or Exchange Visitor: This visa is for people who will be participating in an exchange visitor program in the U.S. The "J" visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs.
- M-1, or Student Visa: This visa is for those who will be engaged in non-academic or vocational study or training at an institution in the U.S.
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a web-based system for maintaining information on international students and exchange visitors in the United States.
Federal Law requires that Marietta College regularly enter data about all F-1 and J-1 students into SEVIS. Any changes in an F-1, J-1 or M-1 student's personal and academic status must be reported through the SEVIS system, administered by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Student Applicants (for F-1 and M-1 visas
If you are going to the U.S. primarily for tourism, but want to take a short course of study of less than 18 hours per week, you may be able to do so on a visitor visa. You should inquire at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If your course of study is more than 18 hours a week, you will need a student visa. Please read this information for general information on how to apply for an F1 or M1 student visa. For additional student related information, visit the EducationUSA website created by the Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to learn about educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate study, opportunities for scholars, financial aid, testing, admissions, and much more.
In most countries, first time student visa applicants are required to appear for an in-person interview. However, each embassy and consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding student visas. Students should consult Embassy web sites or call for specific application instructions.
Keep in mind that June, July, and August are the busiest months in most consular sections, and interview appointments are the most difficult to get during that period. Students need to plan ahead to avoid having to make repeat visits to the Embassy. To the extent possible, students should bring the documents suggested below, as well as any other documents that might help establish their ties to the local community.
Changes introduced shortly after September 11, 2001 involve extensive and ongoing review of visa issuing practices as they relate to our national security. It is important to apply for your visa well in advance of your travel departure date.
When Do I Need to Apply for My Student Visa?
- Students are encouraged to apply for their visa early to provide ample time for visa processing. Students may apply for their visa as soon as they are prepared to do so.
- The consular officer may need to get special clearances depending on the course of study and nationality of the student. This can take some additional time.
- Students should note that Embassies and Consulates are able to issue your student visa 120 days or less, in advance of the course of study registration date. If you apply for your visa more than 120 days prior to your start date or registration date as provided on the Form I-20, the Embassy or Consulate will hold your application until it is able to issue the visa. Consular officials will use that extra time to accomplish any of the necessary special clearances or other processes that may be required.
- Students are advised of the Department of Homeland Security regulation which requires that all initial or beginning students enter the U.S. 30 days or less in advance of the course of study start/report date as shown on the Form I-20. Please consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the U.S.
- A beginning student who wants an earlier entry into the U.S. (more than 30 days prior to the course start date), must qualify for, and obtain a visitor visa. A prospective student notation will be shown on his/her visitor visa and the traveler will need to make the intent to study clear to the U.S. immigration inspector at port of entry. Before beginning any studies, he or she must obtain a change of classification, filing Form I-539, Application for Change of Nonimmigrant Status, and also submit the required Form I-20 to the Department of Homeland Security office where the application is made. Please be aware that there is an additional fee of $140 for this process, and that one may not begin studies until the change of classification is approved.
- Continuing students may apply for a new visa at any time, as long as they have been maintaining student status and their SEVIS records are current. Continuing students may also enter the U.S. at any time before their classes start.
Obtain a Student Visa
After you are accepted to Marietta College, you need an F-1 Student Visa. We have included tips on how to be prepared for this task, but we also recommend that you visit the U.S. State Department Web site for additional information.
Understand that the details vary for each student. You must obtain accurate information, instructions, and forms for the specific U.S. Consulate in your country. Please check for an official list of U.S. embassies and consulates in your country
Typically, U.S. Consulates allow students to apply for the F-1 student visa no sooner than 90 days before the "start date" indicated on the I-20 (a form you will receive from Marietta). Issuance of the visa can take from one week to several months. May through August are the busiest months for student visas, so we recommend you begin the process as soon as you can. Some Consulates may require a 30-day waiting period to conduct a background check. Do not wait until the last minute.
Most U.S. Consulates require that your passport be valid for at least six months after the date you plan to enter the U.S.
Most U.S. Consulates have very strict requirements about how you can submit your visa application. Some have a "drop box"; some require that you mail the application; some require that you use a visa service or travel agent.
Your Visa Application
What do visa officers look for when you apply for an F-1 student visa? There are several things to be aware of.
- Evidence of your ability and intention to be a full-time student at Marietta College. You will be required to present certain documents:
- Certificate of Visa Eligibility (the I-20 Form or the DS-2019 Form for J-1 visas)
- Official acceptance letter from Marietta College
- Academic transcripts (with high marks)
- TOEFL score reports, or other standardized test scores (SAT, GRE, etc.). Note: It is good to take these standardized tests even if not required by your institution, since US Consulates reserve the right to ask for these, regardless of university requirements.
- The officer may also check to see if you are prepared to successfully complete your studies for the major to which you have been admitted. If they doubt that you will succeed at MC in the major/department you indicated, they can reject your visa application.
- Evidence that you have adequate financial resources to pay for your studies and living expenses while in the U.S., without needing a job while in the U.S. You must demonstrate sufficient financial resources by showing the visa officer your financial documents. If you are receiving a scholarship, be sure that your award letter is printed on official Marietta College letterhead paper. Some consulates require bank statements, past tax statements, company letters, employment contracts, etc. Some consulates require that you show evidence of funds for all years of study; others require only one year. Some require an actual bank draft for the amount listed on the I-20. Be absolutely sure that the documents are prepared and presented in exactly the manner required (for example, if they say "original only," that means no copies, no certified copies, no notarized copies, etc.).
- Evidence that you intend to go to the U.S. only to study; certainty that you do not intend to immigrate to the U.S. This can be the most difficult requirement. U.S. Consular visa officers are required by law to assume that you intend to immigrate to the U.S., and that, therefore, they should reject your visa application. You must show documentation of "strong ties" to your home country and legitimate, self-serving reasons to return home after graduation. "Strong ties" are things that bind you to your homeland: future job, family, financial prospects, property that you will inherit, investments, etc.
Your Visa Interview
If you are required to have a personal interview, what can you expect? What kinds of questions might you be asked? Here are some tips and examples.
Things to do.
- Come to the interview well groomed and dressed neatly (but a suit or formal dress is not required).
- Come to the interview prepared with all of the forms and documents as specified in the consulate's instructions. Have them organized neatly and logically.
- Be prepared for quick, rapid-fire questions from the visa officer, and keep your answers short and direct.
- Practice your conversational English. Speak clearly and with the appropriate volume.
- Do not argue. Maintain a positive attitude. Be friendly and courteous.
- Do not memorize your answers.
- The interview will almost always be conducted in English and will be very short (probably 2-3 minutes).
- Family members, friends, or representatives cannot attend the interview with you in most cases.
- The visa officer will render his/her decision immediately when the interview is finished.
- What is/was your high school (secondary school) GPA (grade point average)?
- Graduate students: What is/was your university GPA?
- Did you apply to local universities? If not, why not?
- If yes, why aren't you going to a local university?
- How many U.S. schools did you apply to?
- How many U.S. schools accepted you?
- Why did you apply to MC?
- Did you do a lot of research about MC? What is so good about MC?
- Why did you choose MC? Name five things about MC that made you decide to choose it.
- Why didn't you choose the other universities?
- What do you want to study? What's your major? Why did you choose it?
- What do you expect to gain from your education?
- What's the job scope (job market) for this major?
- Do you plan to stay in the U.S. after graduation and work?
- Would you like to stay in the U.S. after graduation in order to work?
- Do you have family in the U.S.?
- Do you have family members that studied in the U.S. and then returned to your home country?
- Does your family own any homes, businesses, or property in the U.S.?
- Does your family have any funds (bank accounts, money markets, stocks, etc.) in the U.S.?
- How do you and your family plan to finance your education in the U.S.?
Renewing your student visa
Can I stay in the United States if my student visa has expired?
Yes, as long as you are student in good standing and have not violated your status, you may legally remain in the United States with an expired F-1 visa.
Can I renew my student visa while in the United States?
No. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html.
Can I renew my visa while outside the United States in a country other than my home country?
Yes, but the Department of State recommends that you apply for a visa in your home country. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html.
Before you travel to a country other than yours to renew your visa, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate. If you exit the United States and apply for a visa, you cannot return to the United States until the visa is issued. This could require a lengthy stay. If the visa is denied, you will not be able to return to the United States as a student.
Can I go to Canada or Mexico and apply for a new visa?
In some cases, you can. Contact the individual U.S. embassy or consulate in Canada or Mexico. However, you cannot return to the United States until your visa is issued. If the visa is denied, you will not be able to return to the United States as a student. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html.
Applying for a new visa is not the same as automatic visa revalidation. You cannot apply for a new visa and take advantage of automatic visa revalidation at the same time.
This is not the preferred method, but should you need to travel to a third country to renew a visa please review the regulations to ensure you can return.
What is automatic visa revalidation?
Automatic visa revalidation allows most F-1 students to take a trip of less than thirty days to countries contiguous to the United States and reenter on an expired visa provided you have proper documentation and have not applied for a new visa during the visit. This process revalidates your visa (making it eligible for the single trip), but does not renew it.
Additional Visa Classifications
F-2 nonimmigrant visas
Students who plan to have their spouse or children come to the United States with them must apply for an F-2 visa. F-2 dependents are also issued I-20s. F-2 visas have different limitations so check with the DSO to clarify what stipulations occur with this visa classification. F-2 nonimmigrant visa holders are only in status if the F-1 student is in-status.
What documents do the spouse and minor children of a continuing F-1 student need to reenter to the United States after traveling abroad?
If you are the spouse or minor child of a continuing student you need to have the following:
- A current SEVIS Form I-20 in your name (and one for each M-2 traveling)
- A valid passport (see section 2.B.) unless you are from a visa exempt country
- A valid visa unless you are from a visa exempt country or, in some cases, you are traveling to a contiguous country
- The primary (F-1) must be in active student status - check with DSO before traveling to verify the primary's status
Do F-2 nonimmigrants have to travel with the primary (F-1)?
No. However, you must be able to show that your primary (F-1) has been admitted and has maintained student status. We recommend that you consult with the DSO from your primary’s school to ensure the F-1 is in status before traveling. You will need the documents listed in section 2.B..
If your primary (F-1) has a request for optional practical training (OPT) pending or approved, you will need additional documentation. Make a copy of the primary’s Form I-20 with the page 3 annotations and/or EAD (employment authorization document) and be prepared to present it at the consulate and POE.
If the primary (F-1) travels, can the F-2 nonimmigrant family members remain in the United States?
F-2 nonimmigrant family members may stay in the United States without the primary if the primary:
- Is in valid status
- Will return after a temporary absence using the same SEVIS ID number
SEVIS Fee Fact Sheet
- On September 1, 2004 the Department of Homeland Security began mandatory collection of a fee to cover the costs for the continued operation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.
- International students and exchange visitors are subject to this fee which will be used to administer and maintain SEVIS, support compliance activities, and establish SEVIS Liaison Officers.
- SEVIS will be used to record and track the I-901 fee payment.
- Those who wish to enter the United States either as a student or an exchange visitor with a Form I-20 or DS-2019 dated on or after September 1, 2004 are required to pay the fee.
- The fee is $200 for F-1 and $180 for J-1 visa holders. It can be paid to the DHS by mail, online or in person and must be accompanied by a Form I-901.
Payment for the I-901 SEVIS Fee
Currently there are two ways to pay the fee:
- Credit or debit card when paying online
- Check or money order with a coupon printed from the online Form I-901 or with a paper Form I-901 mailed to SEVP.
Checks are accepted subject to collection. If the bank on which it is drawn does not honor the check, you must repay the SEVIS I-901 fee and pay an additional $30 fee to DHS Debt Management Center. See the section on returned (bounced) checks for more information.
The payment must be submitted for the exact amount of the fee due. Your payment will be returned if you:
- Do not send a payment coupon or paper Form I-901 with payment
- Send a payment in the wrong amount
Troubleshooting payment of the I-901 fee
What if I have a problem with making a payment?
The SEVP website at www.ice.gov/sevis has a complete set of questions and answers for the most common problems. You may also call customer service at 1-212-620-3418 to address specific questions or issues with a particular payment. See the section on sources of help for more detailed information.
What if I complete the online Form I-901 and then do not select a payment method?
If you do not complete the payment process and receive a control number (coupon payment) or a confirmation number (credit or debit card payment), your online Form I-901 is not saved. You will need to start the process over and choose a payment method.
What if I realize I made a mistake on my Form I-901 after I filed it on the web or mailed it to SEVP?
The answer to this question depends on the error. SEVP processes the payments the day they are received, so it is likely that we have already processed your form or returned your Form I-901 and payment. The following is a list of common errors and the suggested remedy:
I paid on the wrong Form I-20 or DS-2019
If the fee is the same, do not repay the fee. Keep the receipt and both forms to document the action.
I sent a check or money order for the wrong amount of money or did not send a check
Resubmit the Form I-901 and a new payment. Your original payment will be returned, as SEVP cannot process underpayments or overpayments.
I gave incorrect address for the receipt
Call the 1-212-620-3418
I spelled my name incorrectly
Call the 1-212-620-3418
What if I pay too much?
We cannot accept overpayments. We do not have a process for accepting part of a payment and returning the remainder. Your Form I-901 and payment will be returned and you will need to file again. Be sure you send a payment for the exact amount.
What if I pay too little?
We cannot accept underpayments. We do not have a process for accepting part of a payment and debiting you for the remainder. Your Form I-901 and payment will be returned and you will need to file again. Be sure you send a payment for the exact amount.
To Pay Online
- Find the Form I-901 (SEVIS Fee Application) at www.FMJfee.com.
- Complete the form online 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.
- The form requires the SEVIS Identification Number on the I-20. This number is in the upper right hand corner of the I-20 and begins with an N and has 10 digits.
- The form requires either a school code for F-1 students (Marietta College's code: CLE214F00700000), or a program code for J-1 exchange visitors (Marietta College's program code: P-1-05189).
- The Credit Card Form has a place for "Cardholder address." You do not need to complete this part.
- Choose First-class mail (recommended). A copy of your receipt will be mailed to you for your records.
- Print at least two copies of your receipt and keep them with your other important immigration documents.
Technical problems while paying on the Internet
Can I fill in the Form I-901 online and pay by check if I do not have a printer?
No, you must be able to print out the coupon and send it with your check or money order.
What can I do if I try to get to the SEVP I-901 site and I receive "Page Cannot Be Displayed" error?
This is a problem when you have an older version of Internet Explorer. You have two options: go the Microsoft support website or contact the Microsoft hotline for directions on how to correct the problem.
Microsoft Support Website
Go to www.support.microsoft.com. Type Q305217 in the search bar in the upper left hand corner. The search will return with one article listed - click the link and you will be directed to an article entitled Page Cannot Be Displayed Error During SSL 3.0 Server Session Timeout.
This page provides additional information on how to correct the problem.
You can call the Microsoft Product Support and Services hotline at (800) 936-4900.
- From the main menu, select Option 3 - If you are calling for a Hot Fix, press 3.
- When the Microsoft tech picks up, tell them the following:
- Quote Q305217 as the document identifier describing the problem being experienced.
- Confirm to the tech that this is the problem you are having.
- The tech will assist you with the appropriate solution.
- The tech will give you a case number starting with the letters SRX that can be used to reference your case should you need to call back.
Why does the I-901 website page begin to appear and then stop halfway through?
This is most likely due to a slow Internet connection. Try using the Refresh or Reload button on your browser.
The browser indicates that I do not have strong enough browser security to view the page. How can I pay the I-901 fee online?
All data entered into the SEVP web site and sent through the Internet is protected using 128-bit encryption and SSL version 3.0. The browsers supported are IE 5.0 or above and Netscape 4.5 and above with 128-bit encryption. Please verify the version and browser encryption strength you are using.
- For Internet Explorer: Click Help on the top menu bar and then click About Internet Explorer. This will show the version and Cipher (encryption) strength.
- For Netscape Navigator: Click Help on the top menu bar and then click About Navigator. This will show the version at the top of the page and encryption software supported at the bottom left hand side of the page.
- Access the encryption and SSL versions supported by clicking on the Security button and then the Navigator selection.
- Click Enable SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) v3 - Configure SSL v3 to enable 128-bit encryption.
When I type my information into the I-901 form and click Submit, the browser hangs and does not return another screen. Has my information been submitted?
You can call Customer Service at 1-212-620-3418 and the operator will be able to verify whether or not your information was submitted.
I clicked Submit on the screen but ended up on a page showing I-901 Instructions. What happened?
This occurs when your session exceeds the time limit for completing an I-901 payment. You need to re-enter your information in order to complete the transaction.
What browser do I need to access the website? What if my browser is not the right version?
Any browser that supports the required security -- that can establish an SSLv3 128-bit Secure Socket Layer session with our server – can be used.
- Netscape Navigator 7.1 and higher
- Internet Explorer 5.0 and higher running on a Microsoft Windows operating system
- Safari 1.2.1 and higher running on an Apple Mac OS X operating system
- Mozilla 1.6 and higher running on either a Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS X operating system
If you do not have one of the browser versions listed above, you can download one from the website of manufacturer.
To Pay By Mail
If you do not want to submit your Form I-901, Fee Remittance for certain F or J Nonimmigrants online you can go to the SEVIS webpage at https://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901. There is a link to a PDF version of the form that you can download, print, and mail in according to the instructions on the form.
Note: credit card payments are only permitted for on-line payment. Mailed in applications can only be paid by check or money order.
- Obtain a Form I-901
- Download the form fromwww.FMJfee.com.
- Request the form by phone at 1-800-870-3676 (inside the U.S.)
- Complete the Form I-901. Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form.
- 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"
- Mail the completed I-901 and payment to the address listed on the application form.
- A Form I-797 receipt notice should be mailed to you within 3 days of processing the fee. *Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.
Checklist for Paying by Check or Money Order
When paying by check or money order, make certain that:
- The payment is by international money order or a foreign draft drawn on a financial institution in the United States and payable in United States currency. For more details, see the section on payment by check or money order
- Your name and SEVIS ID number are on the check or money order
- The check or money order is made out to I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee
- If you are using a coupon printed from the Internet, find the control number on top of the coupon and write it on your check or money order
- Write your name and SEVIS ID number on your check or money order
- Attach your check or money order to your coupon or paper Form I-901
Mailing the Form and Payment
Ensure your payment envelope has your correct return address. Also, be sure the envelope has both your payment and your coupon or Form I-901. Send to:
I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee
P.O. Box 970020
St. Louis, MO 63197-0020
By Courier (to expedite delivery to SEVP)
I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63101
Phone Number: 1-314-418-8833 (United States Country Code 011)
If at any time you have problems or questions contact the SEVIS I-901 hotline directly:
E-mail address: fmjfee.SEVIS@dhs.gov
I-901 Customer Service hotline at 212-620-3418
To Pay By Western Union Quick PayTM Service
This option is available over 130 countries. The Western Union office collects the fee in local currency, and electronically transmits the payment and I-901 data to the DHS. The receipt issued serves as immediate proof of payment for a visa interview or for admission at a POE. Western Union's Quick Pay form must be completed in exact detail. These detailed payment instructions are posted at: https://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901.
How will the payment be verified?
The payment will be recorded in the SEVIS system. However, you need to keep the paper I-797 you should still bring the paper I-797 or the Internet generated receipt to the visa interview/ POE.
- DHS will issue an official paper receipt (I-797) for every payment received.
- ndividuals who file electronically will be able to print an electronic receipt immediately at the time of payment.
- When applying through the mail, individuals may request Express delivery service for the I-797 receipt at an additional cost of $30.
When do prospective students or exchange visitors pay the SEVIS Fee?
- Applicants who require a visa to enter the United States must pay the SEVIS fee before going to the U.S. embassy or consulate for their visa interview.
- Applicants who are citizens of Canada, Bermuda, Bahamas and residents of certain other islands wishing to apply for F-1 or J-1 status at a Port of Entry into the United States must pay and process the SEVIS fee before appearing at the Port of Entry.
- Nonimmigrants currently in the United States who apply for student or exchange visitor status must pay the fee prior to filing their change of status application.
*The interviewing consular/ POE officer will confirm payment by accessing SEVIS. To allow for adequate processing time the fee must be paid at least three business days prior to the visa interview/POE appearance date.
When must continuing students pay the SEVIS fee?
- When applying for a new visa or returning to the United States after an absence of more than 5 months that did not involve authorized overseas study
- Before filing an application for reinstatement when they have been out of status for more than 5 months;
When must continuing exchange visitors pay the SEVIS fee?
- Before filing a reinstatement application after they have been out of status between 121 and 269 days
- Before filing a reinstatement application after a substantive violation;
Who Does Not Pay the SEVIS Fee?
- Students or exchange visitors who meet all of the following criteria:
- Started at a school or a program with a Form I-20 or DS-2019 dated before September 1, 2004;
- Have not completed a program, including students who transferred schools or changed program levels; and
- Have maintained status
- Applicants who paid the SEVIS Fee, were denied a visa, and are applying again for the same type of visa within 12 months of the date of the denial (exchange visitors must apply in the same category).
- Current students and exchange visitors who have been issued a Form I-20 or DS-2019 with updated information printed on or after September 1, 2004, as long as the original form was dated prior to September 1, 2004.
SEVIS Fee FAQ
- How can I pay with a check or money order drawn on a US bank if I live outside the US?
The requirement that a check or money order be drawn on a U.S. bank does not necessarily mean that an applicant living abroad must approach a United States bank to make a payment. Many foreign banks are able to issue checks or money orders drawn on a U.S. bank. Accordingly, payment may be made with checks from banks chartered or operated in the U.S., from foreign subsidiaries of U.S. banks, or from foreign banks that have an arrangement with a U.S. bank to issue a check, money order, or foreign draft that is drawn on a U.S. bank.
- Can someone pay the SEVIS Fee for me?
Yes. You may have a relative, friend or even a school or program sponsor pay the fee for you. If do not have access to the payment methods described on this sheet, you may find it easier to have someone in the United States pay the fee for you. If someone else fills out the application for you, be sure you give them a copy of your Form I-20 or DS-2019. Whoever fills out the form will need your personal information exactly as it appears on this document.
- Do I need to pay the fee before I receive a Form I-20 or DS-2019?
No, you must have a Form I-20 or DS-2019 before you pay the fee.
- Do I pay the fee for every Form I-20 or DS-2019 I receive?
No. If you receive acceptance packages from several schools or Exchange Visitor Program Sponsors, please select a school or program and use that Form I-20 or DS-2019 to pay the SEVIS Fee.
Fee payment is made for a specific SEVIS ID number.
- Do I need to pay the fee if I am already enrolled as an F-1 or J-1?
No. You do not have to pay the fee if you are currently in the United States as a nonimmigrant student or exchange visitor and you have maintained your status.
- Am I required to pay the fee if I am extending my program of study?
F-1 or J-1 visa holders applying for an extension of stay are not required to the pay the SEVIS Fee.
- Am I required to pay the fee if I change of educational levels?
You do not have to pay the SEVIS Fee if you are an F-1 who is changing educational levels. Examples are:
- You graduated from high school and are going directly into college
- You received your Bachelor's degree and are going directly into a graduate program
- Am I required to pay the fee if I transfer schools?
You do not have to pay the SEVIS Fee if you transfer between approved schools. If you are an F-1, your I-20 will have Initial attendance at this school in block 3, but your SEVIS records will show that you have maintained your status and are continuing your education. It will be helpful if you ask your DSO to put Continuing student transfer in the remarks.
- Do I pay the fee again after a visa denial?
You do not have to pay the SEVIS Fee if you have already paid a SEVIS Fee and you are reapplying for the same type of visa within twelve months of the date of initial denial.
- Do I need to pay the SEVIS Fee if I need a new visa to return to the United States to continue my studies or participate in an exchange visitor program?
No. When you are applying for a new visa to return to the United States, you do not have to pay the fee if you are reentering to continue a program of study and:
- You maintained your status
- You have not completed your program unless you are an F student transferring to another school or program within five months of leaving the United States
- You have not been out of the United States for more than five months except to participate in a study abroad program approved by your school
- What happens if my Form I-20 or DS-2019 was issued before September 1, 2004, but was updated and reissued after September 1, 2004. Do I have to pay the SEVIS Fee?
No, however, you need to keep the original Form I-20 or DS-2019 with the original issuance date in case you need to prove you were not required to pay the SEVIS Fee.