Port of Entry
- iStart Checklist
- Immigration: SEVIS Fee
- Acquiring a Visa
- Immigration: Port of Entry
- Immigration: Department of State (DOS)
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Transferring from another US University as an F-1 Student
- Transferring from another US University as a J-1 Student
- Arrival Housing
- Housing (On and Off Campus)
- Special Housing Options
- Transportation to Bloomington
- Insurance Information
- Registering for Classes
- Final Instructions/Checklist
- Late Arrival Instructions
Here you can find information about what you can expect when you enter the United States through the Port of Entry (airport or border crossing).
What a Student or Exchange Visitor can Expect upon Arrival at a US Port of Entry
If you are an initial student or exchange visitor entering to attend school for the first time, or if you are transferring to a new school or program, you cannot enter the United States more than 30 days before the program start date indicated on your I-20/DS-2019.
Before leaving your country, confirm that your passport and visa are still valid for entry into the United States. The passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected entry. Remember to renew your passport well before it expires! Also, check to see that your visa accurately reflects your correct visa classification. When you receive your nonimmigrant visa at a US embassy or consulate, the consular officer may seal your immigration documents in an envelope and attach it to your passport. You should not open this envelope! The Customs and Border Protection Officer at the US port of entry will open the envelope. We strongly recommend that you make a couple of photocopies of all your immigration documents—leave one copy at home and bring an extra copy with you.
When you travel, 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 Customs and Border Protection Officer and, as a result, may not be able to enter the United States. Here are the documents you should carry with you:
- Passport (including attached envelope of immigration documents)
- SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019
- Evidence of financial resources
In addition, SEVP recommends that you also carry the following:
- Admission Letter
- Evidence of Student/Exchange Visitor status (recent tuition receipts, transcripts), if you are a transfer student
- SEVIS Fee Receipt
- Name and contact information for Designated School Official at your intended school or program (There are multiple DSOs at IU; just call the main office line at 812-855-9086)
- Writing instrument (pen)
If you are traveling by aircraft, the flight attendants on board will distribute CF-6059 Customs Declaration Forms and I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Forms for immigration, before you land at your initial point of entry in the United States. Complete these forms while you are on the aircraft and submit them to the appropriate Customs and Border Protection Officer upon your arrival. If you do not understand a form, ask the flight attendant for assistance. When completing the I-94 card, please be sure to print clearly, in your best American-style hand-writing, and use the exact same name that appears on your passport. An error on your I-94 card could cause problems for you in the future. If you make a mistake, ask for a new card!
Upon arrival at the port of entry, proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers for inspection at one of the Department of Homeland Security stations. As you approach the inspection station, have your passport, SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019, and Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record available for presentation to the Customs and Border Protection Officer. The Form I-94 should reflect the address where you will reside if you know it. Otherwise, use the address of our office.
If you are entering through a land or designated sea port (rather than by air), the Customs and Border Protection Officer will provide the necessary CF-6059 Customs Declaration Forms and I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Forms at the port of entry. If you do not understand a form, ask the Customs and Border Protection Officer for assistance. Like all entering visitors, you will be asked to state the reason you wish to enter the United States. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the Custom and Border Protection Officer that you will be a student or exchange visitor. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school or exchange visitor program where you will enroll/participate.
Once your inspection is complete, the inspecting officer will:
- Stamp your SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 for duration of status for F and J visa holders
- Stamp the I-94 and staple it in the passport (do not lose your I-94 card!)
SECONDARY INSPECTION REQUIREMENTS:
If your information cannot be automatically verified by the inspector 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. Verifications are done apart from the primary inspection lines so that an individual case will not cause delays for other arriving passengers.
In case your admission/participation needs to be verified, we strongly advise that you have readily available the phone number of our office or the person responsible for your J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. If you arrive during regular business hours, someone from our office will be able to help you immediately. If you arrive during non-business hours, you may have to wait until the following business day for assistance.
Failure to provide proper documentation and to comply with entry/exit procedures is cause to refuse the student or exchange visitor admission into the United States. In limited circumstances, if a student or exchange visitor is mostly, but not fully in compliance, he/she may be issued a Form I-515A, Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor. This form authorizes temporary admission into the United States and requires the student or exchange visitor to take immediate action to submit proper documentation. Noncompliance with the directions contained on these forms may result in denied re-entry. If you receive a Form I-515A, report to the Office of International Services as soon as possible!
On January 5, 2004, US-VISIT, a comprehensive entry-exit registration system was implemented at all international airports throughout the United States, pre-clearance inspection facilities and designated seaports servicing cruise ships. All nonimmigrant visitors holding visas (including students and exchange visitors) will participate in the program that involves obtaining a scan of two index fingerprints and a digital photograph. Race, national origin, and religion are not factors in the US-VISIT program, as it applies to nonimmigrant visa holders. For more information visit: www.dhs.gov/us-visit.
If you have any questions, please contact the Office of International Services. We look forward to meeting you soon!