How to prepare for entry into the U.S.

  • What can you bring into the U.S.
  • Determine how early you can arrive in the U.S.
  • Allow a lot of time between connecting flights, if you need to fly from your port of entry to Washington, D.C.
  • Be sure that your I-20 or DS2019 are in your hand luggage (not in your suitcase).
  • Take a copy of your admission letter
  • Make sure that you arrive to be here in time for the start of classes and so be sure to plan your arrival a few days before classes start (maintaining F-1 status means coming to all classes all the time)
  • Take a copy of your financial letter

Upon arrival at the U.S. border, all individuals must pass through Customs and Immigration inspection. During this inspection, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Officers determine whether or not an individual will be admitted into the U.S. in the status sought.

Documents to Present Upon Entry into US

  • Valid passport (valid six months into the future)
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp
  • Original financial documentation
  • Copy of your acceptance letter to CUA
  • Copy of SEVIS Fee Payment (
  • Other documentation needed to show eligibility for the status desired
    • F-1 Students: Form I-20 (be sure you have signed it)
    • J-1 Students: Form DS-2019 (be sure you have signed it)

Completing Customs and Immigration Forms at the Border

Correcting Errors Made in Customs Border Patrol Database at Time of Entry

Sometimes, mistakes are made at the time a foreign national enters the U.S. in the transcription of I-94 information into a database. For errors that occur at the time of entry, the foreign national should work with the Customs and Border Patrol officers at a Deferred Inspection Office.

Obtain your I-94.