SEVIS: Student-Exchange Visitor Information System

One of the benches that overlooks the bluff.What is SEVIS?

Student-Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s web-based data collection and monitoring system. It records the same information that the US government has always collected from international visitors to the USA, but SEVIS collects that information electronically from a number of sources at the time that any action occurs. These sources and actions include:

LMU: After LMU enters required information, SEVIS generates I-20s and DS-2019s. When you officially check in with the Office for International Student & Scholars (OISS), we put that information into SEVIS. Every semester, OISS is legally required to transmit information about your registration status. Also, as you access some of the services that OISS offers, we will be updating information in SEVIS.

US Consulates Abroad: When you apply for an F or J visa to enter the USA, you present an I-20 or DS-2019. When the US Consul places a visa in your passport, more information is recorded in SEVIS.

US Port of Entry/Exit: When you enter the USA, you are issued an I-94 card (white card stapled in passport) to stay in the USA. The information on your I-94 card is recorded in SEVIS. When you leave the USA, again, your departure information is input into SEVIS.


Effective October 27, 2008, a one-time SEVIS fee has increased to $200 for all new F-1 applicants and $180 for all J-1 applicants. The purpose of the SEVIS fee is to fund the operation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program Office, which has oversight over SEVIS, a federally mandated tracking system for F, M and J visa holders.

F-1 Applicants Fee

  • Students with I-20s marked for “initial attendance (#3 on I-20)” who are applying for a new F-1 visa from outside the US.
  • Students with I-20s marked for “initial attendance” who are applying for a change to F-1 status from another status (B-2 for example).
  • Current F-1 students in the US filing for reinstatement after being out of status more than 5 months.
  • Canadians (who do not need an F-1 visa to enter the U.S.) should take a copy of the SEVIS fee receipt to present at the port of entry with the appropriate I-20. It will not be possible to pay the fee at the port of entry.

International Students Who are Not Required to Pay the SEVIS Fee

  • Students who meet ALL of the following criteria:
    • Started at a school with a Form I-20 dated before Sept. 1, 2004
    • Have not completed a program, including students who transfer schools and changed program levels; and
    • Have maintained status
  • An individual applying for a change of status to F-2 visa.
  • An individual who paid the fee and was denied a visa within the last twelve months.
  • F students who fell out of status but who are applying for a reinstatement within five months of the status violation.

J-1 Applicants Fee

  • An individual applying for a J-1 visa for initial participation in a program
  • An individual in the U.S. applying for a change of status to J-1
  • An exchange visitor who is a U.S. government sponsored program and who is transferring to a non-U.S. government-sponsored program
  • An exchange visitor applying for a change of category (example: J-1 student to J-1 researcher)
  • An exchange visitor applying for reinstatement for a substantive violation

Exchange Visitors Not Required to Pay the SEVIS Fee

  • Continuing J-1s: No SEVIS fee is due for J-1 students or scholars, whose program began before September 1, 2004, who maintains that status, and whose initial DS-2019 for the current program was issued before September 1, 2004.
  • J-1s sponsored by the U.S. federal government: No SEVIS fee is due for a J-1 exchange visitor who is coming to the United States as a participant in an exchange visitor program sponsored by the U.S. federal government (i.e., Fulbright).

How to Pay the SEVIS Fee

A Form I-20 or DS-2019 is needed in order to pay the SEVIS fee. Once you have received the I-20 or DS-2019 from LMU, SEVIS Fee can be paid by various ways. We recommend the following:

  1. Electronically, by completing a form I-901 through the Internet and using a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express credit card.
  2. By mail, by submitting a form I-901, Fee remittance for Certain F, J, and M Nonimmigrants, together with a check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank and payable in U.S. currency.

Another person such as a friend or a family member can pay the fee on your behalf through the same means described above.

Please obtain a proof of payment or receipt for your visa interview or for submitting a change of status application to DHS.

Learn more about the SEVIS Fee from U.S.I.C.E.