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Port of Entry Procedures

Once you have received your visa from the US Department of State, you are able to come to the United States and request permission to enter. Please be aware that your visa only allows you to apply for entry into the USA. It does not guarantee your admission into the USA . However, if you are prepared and all of your papers are in order you should not have any problems. 

Upon your arrival into the USA , you will go through an Immigration and Customs checkpoint. It is here that you will use your visa to request permission to enter and stay in the United States . It is important that you have all of your papers in order at this point to show the Immigration Inspector. You should present the following items to the Immigration Inspector: 

  • Passport with your valid visa 
  • Form I-20 - all 3 pages (for F-1 students only) 
  • Form DS-2019 – both pages (for J-1 students only) 
  • Customs Documents (given to you on the airplane) 
  • Financial Support Documentation (just have this with you in case the Immigration Officials ask to see it) 

The Immigration Inspector will review all of your paperwork and may ask you some questions like "What college will you be attending?" or "What do you plan to study?" Do not be alarmed by these questions - the inspector is only trying to make sure that your answers match the information given on your paperwork. If everything is in order, the following things should happen: 

  • The Immigration Inspector will stamp your passport 
  • If you are a F-1 student, the Inspector will stamp the first page of your I-20  and return it to you
  • If you are a J-1 student, the Inspector will stamp your DS-2019 and return it to you

If you are missing any of the documents necessary for entrance, the Immigration Inspector has the ability to deny your entrance into the United States . However, this is not common practice. Instead, he or she will follow all of the steps listed above with the following exception: 

  • You will be granted permission to enter the USA for only 30 days. You will be issued a Form I-515A, which you should immediately bring to the Office of International Admission.

Once you go through the Immigration check point, you will be asked to retrieve your luggage and proceed through Customs. You may be asked to open your suitcases. You should not be carrying any meat or plant products with you. 

Once you have passed through these check points, you will continue on your way to your final destination! 

For more information on the process of entering, visit the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement website for international students: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/students/index.htm

For more information on what to expect at the Port of Entry, visit Study in the States website at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/2013/04/here-to-help-what-to-expect-at-a-port-of-entry-with-a-us-customs-and-border-protection-officer.