Paying the F & J SEVIS Fee

Who must Pay the F or J SEVIS Fee

New F-1 students, J-1 students and J-1 scholars entering the U.S. for the first time in F-1 or J-1 status must pay a SEVIS fee. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) require proof of payment of the SEVIS fee before issuing a visa or approving any benefits of status. We recommend that you pay the fee as soon as they receive your immigration forms from BU (I-20 for F-1 students or DS-2019 for J-1 students/scholars) to allow sufficient time for DHS to update the fee payment in your electronic SEVIS record. Please refer to the Student and Exchange Visitor website for more information.

Students who have studied in the U.S. in the past, as well as J-1 scholars who have performed past academic activities in the U.S., will still need to pay a new SEVIS fee before commencing a new program.

Citizens of Canada are exempt from the requirement to possess a visa to enter the U.S., however, they are still required to pay the SEVIS fee and show proof of SEVIS fee payment (SEVIS fee receipt) when entering a U.S. Port of Entry.

Who is exempt from the F or J SEVIS Fee

F-2 and J-2 dependents are not required to pay the SEVIS fee. The SEVIS fee is not required from students currently in the U.S. in valid F or J immigration status who need to renew their F-1 or J-1 visa. Similarly, the fee is not required from students and scholars transferring to a new school or changing to another program sponsor without a break in F of J-1 status or academic activities.

How do I pay the SEVIS Fee

The fee can be paid by the student, scholar or a third party (inside or outside the U.S.) The fee can only be paid in one of the following three ways but cannot be paid at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate appointment nor at a U.S. Port of Entry:

  1. Over the internet with an electronic application form (Form I-901) and a credit card
  2. By mailing a paper application with a check or bank draft drawn in U.S. dollars to a processing center in the U.S., or
  3. By making a payment at a participating Western Union in your area.

We strongly recommend that you pay the fee online with a credit card whenever possible to secure an immediate receipt.

All students or scholars who pay the SEVIS fee will receive a formal receipt that should be used as proof of fee payment. The receipt Form I-797 will be sent to the mailing address provided on the Form I-901. This receipt notice will take time to process and to arrive in the mail. The Form I-901 instructions state that receipts will be sent via airmail at no additional cost. The payee can request expedited courier delivery by indicating this request on the Form I-901 and by paying an extra fee at the time of initial payment. If the courier delivery option is selected, the student must include a contact telephone number and actual street address since the courier will not deliver to a P.O. Box. Although fee payments may be noted in the student’s SEVIS record, it is strongly recommended that students retain the fee receipt with other important immigration documents to use as needed.

If you have been accepted to more than one school in the U.S. or are choosing between various program sponsors to teach or conduct research, it is strongly recommended that you select the school to which you will enroll or perform academic activities before paying the SEVIS fee as you must include the unique SEVIS ID number and school code found on the SEVIS Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 issued by the appropriate school. Although DHS has confirmed that a fee payment made on one SEVIS ID number can be applied to another SEVIS ID number issued to the same individual, it could complicate a visa application and should be avoided whenever possible.

Unfortunately, due to recent processing difficulties, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is currently unable to accept credit card payments made on behalf of students and scholars from Ghana, Nigeria , Cameroon or Kenya.  Students and scholars from these countries must pay by cashier’s check, money order or Western Union transfer.