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Increased Fees for International Students, Exchange Visitors, and SEVP-Certified Schools

6/3/2019
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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced changes to the fees charged by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to international students, exchange visitors, and SEVP-certified schools. The revamped fees are scheduled to go into effect on June 24, 2019, and in addition to increasing the expense for both students studying in the United States and the institutions they’re attending, the move could have a lasting impact on the U.S.’s position as a world leader in international education. 
 
The reason for the update to the fees associated with SEVP is to cover the cost of maintaining the program’s technological systems, paying operational staff, and making enhancements to the program. According to Rachel Canty, SEVP program director, “SEVP’s fees have not changed since 2008, although our costs have continued to grow due to inflation, expanded program operations and enhancements to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The new and increased fees will enable the program to continue to provide oversight of international students and SEVP-certified schools.”
 
SEVP acts as a conduit between the government and students coming to the United States to study—working on the behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DoS) to manage schools and nonimmigrant students on F and M visas. The DoS manages the Exchange Visitor Program and nonimmigrant exchange visitors on J visas. Both SEVP and the DoS use SEVIS to track and monitor schools and nonimmigrants in the U.S. participating in these programs.  
 
For students, the most notable fee increase is the I-901 charge for international students on F and M visas, which will go from $200 to $350—a rise of 75%. Also expanding is the full I-901 SEVIS fee for J exchange visitors, growing from $180 to $220. However, the $35 partial I-901 fee for J exchange visitors in the au pair, camp counselor, and summer work travel program participant categories will remain the same. 
 
Colleges and universities are also seeing consequential swelling of fees. The SEVP school certification petition fee that is required for the initial certification of an institution is increasing from $1,700 to $3,000—an increase of over 75%. Additionally, these schools will have to pay a new $1,250 fee bi-annually for recertification. Another new fee facing SEVP-certified schools is a $675 charge when schools file the Form I-290B, “Notice of Appeal or Motion,” and a $655 fee when a school changes its physical location or adds a new physical location or a new campus to its Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student.”

Fee Type

Current Fee

Final Fee

Incremental Fee Adjustment

I-901 F/M

$200

$350

$150

I-901 J-Full

$180

$220

$40

I-901 J-Partial

$35

$35

$0

I-17 Initial Certification

$1,700

$3,000

$1,300

I-17 Recertification

$0

$1,250

$1,250

Site Visit-Initial

$655

$655

$0

Site Visit-New Location

$0

$655

$655

Appeal Fee

$0

$675

$675


Prospective international students and exchange visitors are required to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee before being issued a visa—those who pay the fee before the price increase do not need to pay the difference between the old fee and the new fee. Schools filing an initial certification or recertification petition, petition update, or Form I-290B before the fee increase (even if it’s not adjudicated before the fee implementation date), are not required to pay the new or increased fee. 
 
The main concerns over the lofty increases in fees is that it could threaten the U.S.’s position as a world leader in international education, disrupt an important sector of the economy, and damage the other contributions—both academic and cultural—that these valuable students bring to the U.S. 
 
The U.S. is currently home to 1,078,822 international students, more than double the country with the second largest international student population, the U.K., with 501,045. According to the National Association of International Educators (NAFSA), international students contributed $36.9 billion and supported more than 450,000 jobs to the U.S.
the economy during the 2016-2017 academic year. The fear is that, as the U.S. makes it more expensive and challenging for international students to study here, other English-speaking countries such as Canada and Australia are striving to be more welcoming to international students. 
 
If you have questions about what the increased SEVP fees mean for you or your school, contact GoffWilson today. Solely practicing immigration, for decades GoffWilson has helped the world’s best and brightest people pursue their education in the U.S. while assisting educational institutions host these brilliant minds. Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion. 
Filed under:Immigration Law