What California F-1 Immigration Applicants Must Know About SEVIS Fee

The F-1 student visa application is complex, requiring paperwork, interviews and fees; the assistance of a California immigration lawyer is necessary to ensure appropriate steps are taken to avoid delays or a denial with the visa application. An important fee that must be paid by applicants of F-1 visas is the fee for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

The SEVP was developed to assist the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State monitor schools and exchange programs. SEVIS is a system that tracks and maintains information on F-1 visa students and their dependents, F-2 visa holders. Through SEVIS, colleges and universities send information via the Internet to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State regarding a student and his or her family, particularly to ensure that there is no violation of the visa status.

The SEVIS fee supplements the administrative and maintenance costs of the program, and without payment, an international student cannot apply for a visa. If you are applying to a California college or university, or a school in another state, and are seeking F-1 visa approval, the Form I-20 must match the information on the SEVIS I-901 fee form.

An immigration lawyer in California offers the following important tips regarding the I-901 SEVIS fee:
  • Prospective students applying for an initial F-1 visa from outside the United States are required to pay the fee.
  • Prospective students with initial attendance Form I-20 applying for a change to F-1 status from another visa category are required to pay the fee.
  • Current F-1 students in the United States filing for re-instatement, after being out of status for over five months, are required to pay the fee.
  • The SEVIS fee must be paid at least three business days prior to applying for an F-1 visa, or applying for admission at a U.S. port of entry for exempt individuals.
  • F-2 dependents are not required to pay the fee.
  • The SEVIS fee for F-1 students is generally $200.

Timely payment of the SEVIS fee is critical to the F-1 visa application process, and without proper payment the F-1 visa application will not be processed. 
Vaughan de Kirby
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San Francisco California EB-5 Investment Immigration Attorney