Entering the U.S.
You can plan to enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the program start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019.
WHAT DOCUMENTS TO PREPARE
- Original and signed paper CCA I-20 or DS-2019
- Valid Passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)
- Valid F-1 or J-1 visa (Canadian citizens exempt)
- Proof of funding and financial support
- I-901 SEVIS fee receipt
- CCA admission letter
Keep all documents in your carry-on where it can be easily accessible. Do not leave in any checked luggage. Without sufficient documentation, you might not be able to enter the country.
IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS PROCESS
Admissibility into the U.S. is determined by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.
STEP 1: IMMIGRATION INSPECTION
You will first be directed to the immigration counter. Be ready to present your I-20, passport, visa, and supporting documents to the CBP officer. The CBP officer will review your documents and ask you about your reasons for coming to the U.S. Be sure to answer all questions honestly!
Examples of possible questions include:
- What is your reason for entering the United States?
- What is the total length of stay in the U.S.?
- Where will you be staying/living?
- Who will provide your financial support while you are studying?
Once finished, the CBP officer will electronically create an I-94 record of your arrival and will give you a stamp in your passport with the date you arrived, your class of admission, and your 'admitted-until' date. This should say “F-1 D/S” or “J-1 D/S.” “D/S” means duration of status. You can access your I-94 online here.
STEP 2: BAGGAGE CLAIM & CUSTOMS INSPECTION
You will then head over to baggage claim where you will collect your luggage and go to Customs inspection. Turn in your custom declaration form to the CBP officer. You will then exit the doors into the international arrivals area.
The CBP officer may determine additional screenings may be required and pull you aside for secondary inspection. This is where the CBP officer will ask you additional questions to verify your information and/or luggage. If the CBP officer issues you a Form I-515A, meaning you are given only 30-day admission to the United States. Contact International Student Services (ISS) immediately.