Paying the SEVIS Fee and Applying for a Visa:
To enter the United States as a J-1 scholar under USF’s sponsorship, you must have a valid J-1 visa stamp in your passport from a U.S. Consulate. The consular officer may ask you to provide evidence of your funding during your visa interview or as part of your U.S. visa application. (Appropriate evidence may include a letter of award or support, a bank statement, proof of income, etc.) If your dependents will accompany you, they will need J-2 visas, and you should take their passports with you to the consulate and be prepared to show proof of marriage to your spouse (marriage certificate) and parenthood of each child (birth certificate).
The following steps are a guideline for obtaining a J-1 visa from abroad:
- Receive DS-2019 from the Exchange Visitor Program
- Make visa appointment with U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
- Submit $180 SEVIS I-901 fee payment in time to allow DHS to process payment at least three (3) days prior to visa interview.
- Print SEVIS fee payment receipt from Internet or wait to receive form I-797 receipt from DHS via mail and submit receipt with visa application.
- Receive J-1 visa stamp in passport from U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
- Enter U.S. up to 30 days PRIOR to the start date indicated on the DS-2019 and no later than 30 days AFTER the start date indicated on the DS-2019.
- Report to the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office to validate program no later than 30 days AFTER the start date indicated on the DS-2019.
Procedures for payment of the SEVIS fee:
- On-line submission of Form I-901 (www.FMJfee.com) to DHS using a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express accepted).
- Mail-in submission of Form I-901 to DHS address on form, along with the $180 SEVIS I-901 fee paid by check, money order, or foreign draft drawn on a financial institution in the United States and payable in U.S. currency.
Other SEVIS fee facts:
- Another person (friend or family) can make the payment for an exchange visitor by one of the two methods above.
- Receipts: DHS will issue and mail an official paper receipt (I-797) acknowledging every payment regardless of payment method. Express delivery service for the I-797 receipt may be requested at an additional cost. Anyone who submits an individual fee electronically will be able to print out an electronic receipt immediately at the time of payment for use in advance of the mail delivery of the official paper receipt.
- Although SEVIS fee payments will be recorded by DHS in the J-1 exchange visitor’s SEVIS record and will eventually be used by government officials to document the SEVIS fee payment, it is recommended that a SEVIS fee receipt be used to request any status-related benefit (i.e., application for visa, admission at U.S. port-of-entry, application to change status).
- NOTE: DHS will not refund the SEVIS fee if prospective exchange visitors are not granted a visa or choose not to come to the United States after their visas are granted. In the case that a visa is denied, the applicant does not need to pay the fee again as long as the new request for a visa is completed within a 12-month period of the original SEVIS fee payment.