International Students to Pay $100 Fee for SEVIS Administration
The Department of Homeland Security announced at the end of October that most international students are now required to pay a $100 fee to cover the cost of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) that tracks their whereabouts on college campuses.
International students can pay the fee over the Internet by credit card or by check or money order by mail. J1 exchange visitor visa holders will have to pay a lesser fee of $35. The fees pay for the upkeep of the SEVIS database and for liaison officers that work with the schools to make sure they are complying with the tracking system.
Once an international student is admitted to an institution in the United States, the student pays the SEVIS fee, applies for a visa to study in the United States, and then is approved or denied by a consular official in their home country. If a student is rejected for a visa, they will not have to pay the SEVIS fee again as long as they reapply within nine months of the denial.
NAFSA, the association of international educators, has criticized the fee payment system arguing that it poses problems to students without Internet access, credit cards or reliable mail delivery. The American Council on Education has also complained, asking the Department of Homeland Security and Congress to consider changing the current payment options.
SEVIS is an Internet-based program administered by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of Homeland Security, formerly known as the
Immigration and Naturalization Service. The system monitors the movements and enrollment status of international students in the United States (see Black Issues, Sept. 11).
The Patriot Act mandated that schools produce student visa petitions, known as I-20s, for all international students enrolled in U.S. institutions and for spouses and dependents and enter this information into the SEVIS system. The schools are then required to meet a series of strict deadlines in updating the information with reports on a student’s failure to enroll, dropping below the number of program credits, changing majors, change in the number of dependents, extensions of stay and other areas.
Colleges will have until the end of this month to comment on the new fees. A department spokesman said final SEVIS regulations will not be issued for at least several months.
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