DHS Issues Final Rule on SEVIS Fee Collection
July 1, 2004
Beginning September 1, international students and exchange visitors will be required to pay a $100 fee prior to obtaining their visas, according to final rules published July 1 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Certain applicants for J-1 visas, including participants in summer work or travel programs, au pairs, and camp counselors will be charged a $35 fee. Foreign students and scholars will have the option to pay with a check by mail or with a credit card via the Internet. The fee will cover the costs for the continued operation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.
Under the final rules, all individuals receiving SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 with an issuance date of September 1 or later will be required to pay the fee. In addition, exchange visitor sponsors can pay for a group of individuals through a batch payment process. DHS will also accept fee payment by a third party, including those outside the United States. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program is continuing to explore additional methods of payment and will provide notice as new methods are implemented. SEVP is also working on establishing a Web site that specifically addresses SEVIS fee information.
GAO Report Finds Improvements
In related news, the General Accounting Office (GAO) recently released a report summarizing its congressionally mandated review of DHS's Web-based system for tracking foreign students and scholars (SEVIS). The report, based in part on feedback from campus administrators, indicates that although DHS has taken steps to improve SEVIS, some problems still exist.
The GAO report notes several indicators of improved SEVIS performance:
- program office reports show that key system performance requirements are being met;
- daily system use by program officials and unsolicited user feedback;
- GAO's analysis of new requests for system changes, including changes to address reported performance problems, shows that such requests are declining; and
- officials at educational organizations generally see performance as having improved.
In the report, GAO makes recommendations designed to improve DHS's monitoring of key system performance requirements, address performance concerns, and expedite collection of the fee from student visa applicants.
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