Arriving in the USA
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is committed to facilitating your stay in the United States while you take advantage of our nation's academic, educational, and cultural offerings. To enhance security without slowing legitimate travel, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has instituted some changes in U.S. entry and exit procedures. Careful planning and preparation by international students can ensure that any delay based on these procedures is minimal.
PLAN YOUR ARRIVAL
You may be refused entry into the United States if you attempt to arrive more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your Form I-20.
ALWAYS HAND-CARRY YOUR DOCUMENTS
Do not check the following documents in your baggage. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will be unable to present the documents at your port of entry. As a result, you may not be able to enter the United States.
Your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay;
With the attached envelope; When you receive your nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, the consular officer will seal your immigration documents in an envelope and attach it to your passport. You should not open this envelope! The Customs and Border Protection Officer at the U.S. Port of Entry will open the envelope; and
SEVIS Form I-20.
In addition, it is strongly recommended that you also hand carry the following documentation:
Evidence of financial resources;
Evidence of student status, such as recent tuition receipts and transcripts;
Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee, Form I-797, and
Name and contact information for your "Designated School Official", including a 24-hour emergency contact number at the school.
If Arriving By Air: Flight attendants will distribute Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival Departure Record Forms (I-94). These must be completed prior to landing.
If Arriving By Land or Sea: The CBP Officer at the port of entry will provide the necessary Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival-Departure Record Forms (I-94) to be filled out upon your arrival.
AS YOU ARRIVE AT THE PORT OF ENTRY
Proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers. Have the following documents available for presentation: your passport; SEVIS Form (I-20); Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94); and Customs Declaration Form (CF-6059). The Form I-94 should reflect the address where you will reside, not the address of the school or program.
All visitors entering the United States must state their reason for wishing to enter the country. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the CBP Officer that you will be a student. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school program where you will enroll/participate.
Once your inspection is successfully completed, the inspecting officer will:
Stamp your SEVIS Form for duration of status ("D/S") for F-1 visa holders
Stamp your SEVIS Form for 30 days beyond program end date for M visa holders
Stamp the Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94) and staple it in the passport
FOLLOWING ADMISSION INTO THE UNITED STATES
Students should report to their school within 30 days of the date that appears on the SEVIS I-20 form to register for courses or to validate their intended participation. Failure to do so may result in serious consequences.
SECONDARY INSPECTION REQUIREMENTS
If the CBP officer at the port of entry cannot initially verify your information or you do not have all of the required documentation, you may be directed to an interview area known as "secondary inspection." Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information without causing delays for other arriving passengers.
The inspector will first attempt to verify your status by using the Student and Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS). In the event that the CBP Officer needs to verify information with your school or program, we strongly recommend that you have the name and telephone number of the foreign student advisor at your school. In the event you arrive during non-business hours (evening, weekends, holidays), you should also have an emergency or non-business hour phone number available for this official.
Failure to comply with U.S. government entry-exit procedures may result in your being denied entry to the United States. Under certain circumstances, the CBP officer may issue a "Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor" Form (I-515A), which authorizes temporary admission into the United States. Work with your school to submit the proper documentation without delay.
All nonimmigrant visitors holding visas -- regardless of race, national origin, or religion -- must participate in the US-VISIT program, a comprehensive registration system tracking entries to and exits from the United States.
NATIONAL SECURITY ENTRY-EXIT REGISTRATION SYSTEM (NSEERS)
Some individuals may be asked to provide additional information under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). A packet of information will be available at the port of entry explaining the registration procedure.