Once you have received your I-20 from SFAI or DS-2019 from the Institute of International Education (IIE), the next step is to pay the SEVIS fee or I-901 fee. SEVIS is the acronym for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, the U.S. government’s central database for tracking international students. The SEVIS fee is currently $200 USD for F-1 students and $180 for J-1 students and may be paid online with either a credit card or via Western Union.
Be sure you have access to a printer when you pay the SEVIS fee, as you will need to keep proof of payment for your records and bring it with you to your visa interview. SFAI does not receive any funds from the SEVIS payment. The fee covers maintenance costs for the database.
F-1 students who are transferring into SFAI from another U.S. institution and have been continuously enrolled do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again. The SEVIS fee should be paid at least three days before your visa interview or, for Canadian students, at least three days before you plan to enter the U.S. You should carry proof of payment with you when entering the U.S.
To pay the SEVIS fee, you will need to provide your SEVIS ID. Your SEVIS ID is in the upper right-hand corner of your I-20 or DS-2019 and begins with the letter “N” followed by ten numbers.
Importance of Name Consistency
It is paramount that your name on all of your legal documents exactly matches your name as it appears on your passport. Do not use nicknames or shortened versions of your name on any of your documents including your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, SEVIS Fee payment, entry visa, I-94 card, or any additional documents that you acquire before or after your arrival to the United States. Inconsistency in the way you note your name on documents can cause significant problems for you in obtaining your visa, entering the U.S., or applying for F-1/J-1 benefits after your arrival.