U.S. Port of Entry

Arriving at a U.S. Port of Entry ... What a Student Can Expect.


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 SEVIS I-20 form.


ALWAYS HAND-CARRY DOCUMENTS! 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.

Do not check the following documents in your baggage:
• Your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay.
• 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
• Name and contact information for your "Designated School Official", including a 24-hour emergency contact number at the school.


• 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.

• 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.


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)
• 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 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


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 with you the name and telephone number of Shirley Michaels that is included in your I-20 packet.

Form (I-515A)
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 - participate in the US-VISIT program, a comprehensive registration system tracking entries to and exits from the United States.


Students should report to their school before the first day of classes to register for courses or to validate their intended participation. Failure to do so may result in serious consequences.