Arrival at 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 your Form I-20.
What documents will I need to present?
You must have in your possession (Do not pack these in your suitcase!)
- Passport with F-1 visa stamp
- Certificate of Eligibility - Form I-20
- Evidence of financial resources
- I-94 card (Recieved on the plane)
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!
Check Your Documents!
The I-94 Card and your Form I-20 should read F-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-1/B-2 visitor’s visa).
US-VISIT is an 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 a few seconds.
Visit the following website for more information and for videos illustrating the process: http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/usv.shtm