Destination USA: Importance of SEVIS fee

Pay well in advance of visa interview appointment to allow for adequate processing time

By Author  |  Monika Setia  |  Published: 16th Jun 2019  12:01 am
Destination USA
Starting June 24, 2019, all students will be required to pay a new and increased SEVIS fees.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve discussed about student visas. Today, we’ll talk about a related aspect of the application process – the SEVIS fee.

SEVIS or Student and Exchange Visitor Information System is an Internet-based system that maintains information on foreign students and exchange visitors, as well as their dependents, before and during their stay in the United States. The Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP) – a programme by Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – administers SEVIS.

As an international student in the US, students pay the SEVIS fee in time to ensure that the payment can be deposited and recorded in SEVIS prior to the scheduled visa interview for their student visa. The interviewing consular officer will confirm that the fee has been paid by accessing SEVIS. Students may pay the SEVIS Fee on, the only federal website certified to collect the SEVIS fee payments. If the student has a spouse or child travelling with them, they are not required to pay a separate SEVIS fee.

Key points to remember
• Do not pay the SEVIS fee before receiving Form I-20 or DS-2019 (if going on J1 visa)
• Pay the SEVIS fee well in advance of the visa interview appointment to allow for adequate processing time
– at least three business days prior to the interview date if paying the fee electronically
– at least 15 business days prior to the interview if submitting payment through regular mail
• Must present proof (SEVIS fee payment receipt) of the I-901 SEVIS fee payment at the visa interview

Students should take a note that starting June 24, 2019, all students will be required to pay a new and increased SEVIS fees. For F and M international students, the fee will increase from $200 to $350. For some categories of J visa, the fee has been increased from $180 to $200. For further details about SEVIS fee changes, please visit

For more information about how to pay the SEVIS fee and other frequently asked questions, please visit

– Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at US – India Educational Foundation, based at the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad)


Q. I have heard about standardised tests for US university applications. What are these?
– Rubina

A. The US university application package includes some form of standardised tests, scores of which are considered both for the admission process and financial aid.
Standardised tests for graduate applicants (Master’s and PhD) may include one or more of the following: Graduate Record Examination (GRE), GRE Subject Tests, and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). The GRE General Test is required by prospective applicants of graduate programmes, including doctoral degree applicants.
The applicants of graduate programmes in management or business studies take the GMAT. Some business schools may also accept the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT. In addition to the GRE General Test, some programmes require a GRE Subject Test.
The application process for undergraduate or bachelor’s degree programmes in the US also require one or more standardieed test scores. The SAT Reasoning Test, SAT Subject Tests, the ACT, and AP exams are the test options for undergraduate applicants. The SAT Reasoning Test is a standardieed test required for college admission by many colleges and universities in the United States. However, several universities accept either SAT or ACT scores and may not prefer one over the other. Students applying to very competitive schools may need to take both SAT Reasoning and SAT Subject tests. AP Exams and SAT Subject Tests (when not required) are used to enhance applications.
Students should check on the standardieed tests requirements by the institutions that they have selected for their applications before preparing and registering for the test(s).

Q. We are considering sending our daughter to a community college in the US. What are the admission requirements and application process for community colleges?
– Balakoteswara Rao

A. A Community College is a great cost-saving option for international students. However, community colleges usually offer a two-year Associates Degree. If a four-year bachelor’s degree is the aspiration, identifying a community college with articulation agreements with four-year institutions will be prudent. Articulation agreements usually mean that the community college has a tie up with a four-year university so that majority of the community college two years of coursework is applicable towards a bachelor’s degree at a four-year university. Ultimately, a student could complete two years at community college at a lower cost and then transfer to complete the remaining two years for a full bachelor’s degree (a 2+2 programme).
Community colleges operate an “open” admissions policy. This means anyone who wishes to enrol and meets the minimum entry requirements can do so. Each institution will have its own set of admission requirements, but the minimum usually includes the following:
• Completed application form
• Proof of secondary school completion, usually 12 years of schooling
• Certification of English language proficiency – TOEFL or IELTS
• Evidence of financial support

The English language proficiency requirement is often lower for a community college than it is for a four-year institution. In addition, if your score is a little below the entry requirement, the community college may still admit you into the English as a Second Language (ESL) programme. Successful completion of all the prescribed ESL courses will open the door to the wider academic world of the community college.
Students should contact the admissions office of the two-year college to request international admissions information. Many community colleges have websites with downloadable or on-line applications. To search for community colleges specifically you can visit the American Association of Community Colleges website for a search engine ( ).
There is a word of caution to keep in mind regarding community colleges. If the goal is not to pursue a bachelor’s degree after finishing the two-year study, it is important for students to think about how they plan to use their Associate degree, especially since the degree may not be accepted in India.


Every question has an answer. And ‘Destination USA’ will strive to provide the right answer to all those youngsters who dream of studying in the US.
Mail your questions and doubts to [email protected] to have subject matter experts answer them, right from the degree and programme of study you can pursue to what the application process entails, on universities, how to prepare resumes, financing your studies and even how it is like to live and study in the US, all are welcome.