Arriving F-1 and J-1 Students

Important Information

Your arrival as an F-1 student in the U.S. will be smoother if you know what to expect. The Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has prepared the following guide to ensure the quality of your experience.

Through its “Student and Exchange Visitor Program” (SEVP), the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is committed to facilitating your stay in the U.S. as you enjoy 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 U.S. if you attempt to arrive more than 30 days before the academic program start date listed on your SEVIS I-20 form.

Always Hand-Carry Your Documents
There are documents you will need to keep with you when you arrive. Please do not check these documents with 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.

Documents Needed

  • Your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay.
  • Sealed nonimmigrant documents. (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. Do not open this envelope! The Customs and Border Protection Officer at the U.S. Port of Entry will open the envelope.)
  • Your SEVIS Form I-20.

We strongly recommended that you also hand-carry the following additional documentation:

  • Evidence of financial resources.
  • Evidence of student status, such as recent tuition receipts and transcripts.
  • A 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.

For comprehensive information on procedures for traveling and arriving in the U.S., visit Education USA link.

Complete Your Entry Paperwork

If you arrive 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 you arrive 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.

When You Arrive At Your Port of Entry

Go directly 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 your University or academic department.

You will be asked to state your reason for entering the U.S. 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, along with the name and address of the University in which you will enroll.

When Your Inspection is Completed

Once your inspection is successfully completed, the inspecting officer will do the following:

  • 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.

Following Your Admission Into the U.S.
You should report to St. John’s to register for your courses within 30 days of the date that appears on your SEVIS I-20 form. Failure to do so may result in serious consequences.

Additional Information

Secondary Inspection Requirement
If the CBP officer at your port of entry cannot initially verify your information, or you lack some required documentation, you may be directed to an interview area known as “Secondary Inspection.”

This allows inspectors to conduct extra research to verify your information – without causing delays for other arriving passengers. First the inspector will attempt to verify your status by using the Student and Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Sometimes a CBP Officer needs to verify information with a student’s university or program. You should keep on hand the name and telephone number of your foreign student advisor at St. John’s. In case you arrive during non-business hours (evening, weekends, holidays), have an emergency or non-business hour phone number available for the CBP officer.

Failure to comply with U.S. government entry-exit procedures may result in your being denied entry to the U.S. Under certain circumstances, the CBP officer may issue a “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor” Form (I-515A), which authorizes temporary admission. Work with your school to submit the proper documentation without delay.

U.S.?Visit
Every nonimmigrant visitor holding a Visa - regardless of race, national origin or religion - participates in the U.S.-VISIT program, a comprehensive registration system tracking entries to and exits from the United States. For more information visit www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/editorial/editorial_0440.xml

National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS)
Some nonimmigrant visitors with a Visa may be asked to give additional information under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). At your port of entry you can obtain a packet of information explaining the registration procedure.

To learn more, visit Homeland Security site.

* U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

Your arrival as a J-1 Exchange Visitor in the U.S. will be smoother if you know what to expect. The Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has prepared the following guide to ensure the quality of your experience.

Through its “Student and Exchange Visitor Program” (SEVP), the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is committed to facilitating your stay in the U.S. as you enjoy 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

Exchange Visitors are prohibited from entering the U.S. more than 30 days in advance of their academic program’s start date, as identified in Item 3 of the DS 2019 Form.

In addition, some sponsors of an Exchange Visitors Program may restrict early entry to less than 30 days. Please check with your own sponsor for specific requirements.

Always Hand-Carry Your Documents

There are documents you need to keep with you when you arrive. Please do not check these documents with 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 U.S.

Documents Needed

  • Your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay.
  • Your sealed immigration documents. (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. Do not open this envelope! The Customs and Border Protection Officer at the U.S. Port of Entry will open the envelope.)
  • If re-entering the U.S., your DS-2019 Form.

In addition, we strongly recommend that you also hand-carry the following documentation:

  • Evidence of financial resources.
  • Your Letter of Acceptance as a participant in the Exchange Visitor Program;
  • A paper receipt for payment of your SEVIS fee, Form I-797.
  • The name and contact information for your sponsoring organization, including a 24-hour emergency contact number.

For comprehensive information on procedures for traveling and arriving in the U.S., visit Education USA.

Complete Your Entry Paperwork

If you arrive 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 you arrive 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 Your Port of Entry

Go directly to the terminal area for arriving passengers. Have the following documents available for presentation: your passport; the sealed envelope that contains your DS-2019 Form; Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94); and Customs Declaration Form (CF-6059). Form I-94 should reflect the address where you will reside, not the address of your University or academic department.

You will be asked to state your reason for entering the U.S. 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 an Exchange Visitor, as well as the name and address of the University in which you will enroll.

When Your Inspection is Completed

Once your inspection is successfully completed, the inspecting officer will do the following:

  • Stamp your SEVIS Form for duration of status (“D/S”) for J Visa holders.
  • Stamp the Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94) and staple it in the passport

Following Your Admission to the U.S.

As an Exchange Visitor, you must report to St. John’s (your Exchange Visitor Program sponsor) within 30 days of your program’s start date, as identified in Line 3 of your DS 2019 Form. ?St. John’s will then validate your participation in the program.

If you are an Exchange Visitor in a program beginning with “G” - as listed in Item 2 of the DS 2019 Form - and are being sponsored for less than 30 days, you must have your sponsor validate your participation before the end date listed in Item 3 of the DS 2019. ?Failure to have your participation validated will result in an automatic invalidation of your SEVIS record.

Additional Information

Secondary Inspection Requirement
If the CBP officer at your port of entry cannot initially verify your information, or you lack some of the required documentation, you may be directed to an interview area known as “Secondary Inspection.”

This allows inspectors to conduct extra research in order to verify your information – without causing delays for other arriving passengers. First the inspector will attempt to verify your status by using the Student and Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Sometimes a CBP Officer needs to verify information with a student’s sponsoring university or program. We strongly recommend that you keep on hand the name and telephone number of your J-1 Exchange Visitor Program sponsor. In case you arrive during non-business hours (evening, weekends, holidays), have an emergency or non-business hour phone number available for the CBP officer.

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.

U.S. Visit
Every nonimmigrant visitor holding a Visa - regardless of race, national origin or religion - participates in the U.S.-VISIT program, a comprehensive registration system tracking entries to and exits from the United States. For more information visit Homeland Security.

National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS)
Some nonimmigrant visitors holding a Visa may be asked to provide additional information under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). At your port of entry you can obtain a packet of information explaining the registration procedure.

For more information, visit Homeland Security.?

* U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.