Greetings! This week we will continue our discussion on the five steps to apply for master’s programmes in the United States. While talking about ‘Step 4 – Apply for your student visa’ for master’s programme applications to US universities, in the last two columns, we understood the steps and process to apply for student visas. Another related aspect of this step is the SEVIS fee that we will discuss in this column.
SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. SEVIS is an Internet-based platform that maintains information on foreign students and exchange visitors and 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.
All international students going for their higher education in the United States have to pay the SEVIS fee prior to their scheduled student visa interview. Students should make sure that the payment is deposited and recorded in SEVIS before they appear for the interview. At the time of visa interview, consular officers access SEVIS and confirm that the SEVIS fee has been paid by the student.
Students may pay the SEVIS fee online at http://www.fmjfee.com/. This is the only official 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 related to SEVIS fee:
- Do not pay SEVIS fee before receiving Form I-20 or DS-2019 (if going on J1 visa)
- Always 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
- Present the SEVIS fee payment receipt as proof of I-901 SEVIS fee payment at the time of visa interviewFor F and M international students, the SEVIS fee is $350. For some categories of J visa, the fee is $200. For more information about SEVIS fee, students may visit http://www.ice.gov/sevis/index.htm.
– Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser, US-India Educational Foundation based at the US Consulate General Hyderabad)
Q1. I am currently studying physiotherapy at bachelor’s level in India and I am interested in applying for public health programmes in the United States. How should I find accredited programmes and institutions in the field? – Suraj Varma
When applying for public health programmes in the United States, like any other programme, students should research accredited colleges and universities that offer these programmes. US Department of Education publishes the database of accredited programs and institutions at https://ope.ed.gov/dapip/#/home and Department of Homeland Security at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/school-search. In addition, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is an independent agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit public health programs and provide information about the accredited schools and programs of public health. You may find more information at https://ceph.org/about/org-info/who-we-accredit/accredited/.
Q2. Our son is in Class XI and he is starting to work on his applications for undergraduate programmes in the US. Can you please clarify how to prepare transcripts? – Radhika Bose
A student’s academic records are generally referred to as transcripts in the US higher education system. For an undergraduate applicant, the admissions offices at U.S. institutions review the academic record of a student for the last four years, i.e. records from 9th through 12th standard. If the student is currently in 12th, then the records up to 11th standard are to be submitted at the time of the application along with possible mid-year grades or the predicted scores for 12th standard.
US universities have specific requirements and instructions for receiving academic transcripts and documents. It is important to note that the transcript must be officially issued by the school or the board of education under which the student pursued his/her schooling. Usually, the school counselor or a designated teacher scans and uploads these documents through an application portal or sends attested true printed copies. The original documents are submitted once the student accepts the offer of admission. At that stage, photocopies of mark sheets or report cards may not be acceptable. Additionally, the transcript should list all subjects/courses that the student has taken in each year of their education, with corresponding marks/grades received on each subject. To be considered official, all academic records must be in English and should carry the seal or stamp of the school/education board.
Students must contact their school’s office and/or school counselor to request that these be submitted to the university to which the student is applying.
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