Travel to the US

Once you have your F-1 visa, you can travel to the US up to 30 days in advance of your F-1 program start date. We highly recommend that you take advantage of this entire pre-program grace period. This period of time will allow you to find housing, complete orientation and other University requirements, complete the F-1 check in process, register for classes, and settle in to living in the United States before your classes begin.

Entering the US

A visa allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad to travel to a United States port-of entry and request permission to enter the US. You must be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the US. The Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States.

When you arrive at the port-of-entry, you will be asked to state the reason you wish to enter the United States. Also, you should carry some specific documents with you—do not check them in your baggage. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will not be able to show the documents to the CBP officer and, as a result, you may not be able to enter the United States.

Documents to carry on you:

  • Passport with valid F-1 visa
  • Form I-20
  • Financial documents (showing how you will pay all education, living and travel costs)

Once your inspection is complete, the CBP officer will stamp your passport and return your Form I-20 to you.

If you arrive at a US port of entry and do not have all your signed required documents or have a SEVIS status issue, the CBP officer may deny your entry into the United States. As an alternative, the officer has discretion to issue you a Form I-515A. This document allows you to have temporary admission into the US for 30 days. To maintain your nonimmigrant student status, you must address your Form I-515A within the time provided to you. If you receive a Form I-515A upon entry into the US, you must notify the Center for Global Health immediately.

I-94 Record

Each time that you enter the US, you will be issued an I-94 arrival record. The I-94 record is important because it serves as evidence of the nonimmigrant status you were granted when you last entered the US, and how long you may legally remain in the US.

Unless you are arriving at a land port-of-entry, you will not receive a paper I-94 record due to the automation of I-94 records. You can access your I-94 arrival record online at the CBP I-94 website. Each time that you enter the US, you must go to the I-94 website and retrieve your I-94 record. You must save a copy of the I-94 record for your records. We recommend that you print the I-94 record and save an electronic copy.

Your I-94 record should list F-1 as your class of admission. Your I-94 record should list D/S for your Admit Until Date, which means “duration of status.” It is extremely important that the information in your I-94 record is correct. If you find an error in your I-94 record, contact the Center for Global Health.