Arriving at the U.S. Port of Entry
How soon can I enter the U.S.?
You cannot enter the country more than 30 days prior to the start date on you I-20.
What documents will I need to present?(Do not pack these in your baggage!)
- Passport with F-1 visa
- Form I-20 or Form DS-2019
- Evidence of financial resources
- I-94 card given to you on the airplane or with your boarding pass
The Immigration Inspector will review your papers and give you a Form I-94, your “Arrival/Departure” record. This is a small white card normally stapled into your passport. Although it may appear insignificant, this card determines your status in the United States and costs over $330 to replace! Be very careful with this document! The I-94 card and your I-20 or DS- 2019 form should read F-1 or J-1 D/S for “duration of status”, meaning that you can remain in the U.S. as long as you remain a student in valid immigration status.
NOTE: You must be especially aware of which visa status you are admitted into the U.S. with, especially if you have another visa stamp in your passport (such as a B-2 tourist visa) or if you are from a "visa waiver" country like Canada.
US-VISIT is a new exit and entry verification system. Most visitors traveling on visas will have two finger prints scanned by an inkless device and have a digital photograph taken. This should only take seconds.
Visit the DHS website for more information and for videos illustrating the process.