On Monday, October 27, 2003, the Department of Homeland Security published a proposed SEVIS fee rule. Exactly when the fee will become required depends on how long after the 60-day public comment period (comments are due on or before December 26, 2003) DHS takes to publish a final or interim final rule.

Highlights of the proposal:
  • This is a PROPOSED rule, not a final or interim final rule, i.e., it is not yet law
  • There is a 60-day public comment period (comments are due on or before December 26, 2003), after which DHS will review comments received before publishing an interim final or final rule
  • The fee is proposed at $100 (the statutory maximum) [$35 for J summer work/travel; camp counselors; and au pairs]
  • If an alien paid an initial SEVIS fee when seeking an F, M, or J visa and the visa is denied, the alien would not have to pay the fee again if he or she reapplies for the same visa type within 9 months of the denial
  • Dependents do not have to pay the fee
  • The proposal says the fee may be paid "by any procedure approved by DHS." The only ways referenced in the proposal are: by mail using Form I-901, or electronically "using a credit card or other electronic means of payment accepted by DHS."
  • The proposal would allow DHS to accept payment of the fee made on behalf of the alien by an approved school or exchange visitor program
  • The proposal calls for DHS to maintain an electronic record of fee payment, and states that "If the alien's record indicates that the fee has been paid, an alien who has lost or did not receive a receipt for a fee payment...will not be denied an immigration benefit solely because of a failure to submit proof of payment of the fee."

-The rule specifies who does and who does not have to pay the fee, and when. The proposal contains a table that summarizes who has to pay and when, as follows:

I. Fee payment is NOT required if applicant is:
- An F-2, J-2, or M-2 dependent
- A J-1 participant in an exchange program sponsored by the Federal government
- An F-1, F-3, J-1, M-1, or M-3 nonimmigrant transferring between schools, programs or program categories
- An F-1, F-3, J-1, M-1, or M-3 nonimmigrant requesting/applying for an extension of course of study or program
- An alien who paid an initial fee when seeking an F-1, F-3, J-1, M-1, or M-3 visa from a consular official abraod for initial attendance at an approved school or exchange program, who was denied a visa by the consular officer, and is re-applying for the same status within nine months of the denial
- Applying for a change of classification between an F-1 and F-3 nonimmigrant or between M-1 or M-3 nonimmigrant

II. Fee payment IS required if the applicant is:
- An alien seeking an F-1, F-3, J-1, M-1, or M-3 visa from a consular officer abroad for initial attendance at a DHS-approved school or initial participation in a Department of State-designated exchange program
- An alien exempt from the visa requirement described in section 212(d)(4) of the Act, applying for admissioin to the United States to begin initial attendance at a DHS-approved school or initial participation in a Department of State-designated exchange program.
- An alien in the United States seeking a change of status to F-1, F-3, J-1, M-1, or M-3 (except in the case of change of classification between F-1 and F-3 or between M-1 or M-3)
- A J-1 nonimmigrant who is applying for renstatement after a substantive violation, or who has been out of program status for longer than 120 days but less than 270 days during the course of his or her program
- An F or M nonimmigrant applying for reinstatement of student status because of a violation of status more than 5 months in duration. AMDOC#: 200310009