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The U.S. Is Increasing Visa Application Fees for International Students

Tuesday | June 11, 2019 | by Melissa Mace

us visa fees

The U.S. has finalized a rule to increase application fees for F, M, and J visas. However, don’t let this news discourage you! Instead, learn the key facts regarding this rule from Expert Ambassador Melissa Mace.

Keep reading so you will be prepared when the new fees take effect June 24, 2019.


Why Is the United States Raising Application Fees?

On July 17, 2018, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its plan to raise the fees for certain visa applications managed by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The reason for the increases is simple: Costs to applicants have remained the same since 2008, while the costs of managing the SEVP and its related Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) have continued to rise.

The fee increases have nothing to do with keeping international students out of the United States. The SEVP wants to provide better service to applicants, students, and institutions, but needs to generate more revenue to make improvements.

Who Is Affected?

There are two overarching categories of applicants affected by the fee changes:

  • Individuals: visa applicants
  • Organizations: schools that are submitting certification or recertification petitions

What Are the Increases for Individuals?

F & M Nonimmigrant Visa Applications      

Currently, academic (F) and vocational (M) visa seekers submit the Form I-901 and pay a fee of $200 USD. Beginning June 24, 2019, that fee will increase by 75 percent to $350 USD.

J Visa Nonimmigrant Visa Applications

J exchange visitor applicants currently pay a Form I-901 submission fee of $180 USD. For most categories under this description, an increase of $40 USD, or 22 percent, will make the new, adjusted fee $220 USD. However, not all J exchange visitor applicants will be affected by the fee increase. Au pairs, camp counselors, and summer work travel category applicants will continue to pay the same fee of $35 USD.

What Are the Increases for Organizations?

Nonimmigrant visa applicants are not the only category that will see fee increases. As mentioned earlier, schools will also experience a fee increase. Currently, there is no charge for a school that issues the Form I-20 to petition for recertification—a requirement that must be completed every two years. Beginning June 24, 2019, schools must pay a $1,250 USD fee when filing a petition for recertification.

In addition to recertification fees, the fee for applying to become an SEVP-certified school (initial certification) will increase from $1,700 USD to $3,000 USD.

Is Your Form I-901 Fee Still Valid?

If you paid the Form I-901 fee of $200 USD prior to June 24, 2019, and have not obtained a visa or entered the United States, you will not need to pay the difference between the old and new fees. Please contact your school if you have any questions about the new fees.

Be sure to check the WES Advisor Blog regularly for immigration updates and news.

Related Reading

Updated for 2019: Preparing for the F-1 Visa Interview

Employment Options for Students on an F-1 Visa

Dr. Melissa Mace is the Assistant Vice President of Enrollment at Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of World Education Services (WES).