Port of Entry Procedures

While flying to the US, you will have to complete your customs formalities at your first port of entry. Ensure that you have sufficient time (at least 2 hours, considering the queue) between your flights at that airport. You should have the following documents available for presentation: your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay; SEVIS Form (I-20); Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94); and Customs Declaration Form (CF-6059). (I-94 and CF-6059 would be provided in your flight.)

In addition, it is strongly recommended that you also hand carry the following documentation:
1. Evidence of financial resources;
2. Evidence of student status, such as recent tuition receipts and transcripts;
3. Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee, Form I-797, and
4. Name and contact information for your “Designated School Official”, including a 24-hour emergency contact number at the school.

Here is the basic procedure followed at port of entry:
  • Sometime before landing the flight attendant will distribute customs declaration forms & immigration forms as mentioned below. Fill these out on the plane (you will submit them to the appropriate authorities when you land). Do not hesitate to take the flight attendant's help. You can indicate that you have nothing to declare & total value of all your things is less than $ 1500 on the customs form I-94 - fill in the plane. After seeing your documents immigration officer will indicate length of stay, Univ, etc. This will be attached to your passport.

  • Important: note the expiry date and D/S (duration of status). Form I-20 ID copy - all transactions regarding your non-immigrant status will be recorded in this form. This should be retained at all times (not surrendered until when you temporarily leave the US). Your admission number will be given - memorize it & note it elsewhere.

  • Just before you land the correct local time will be announced set your watch.

  • Once you are out of the plane go straight to the immigration counter - rush for them to beat the queue. It might take 0.5-1 hour here. Keep your I-20, passport, admission & aid letters ready. They might ask a few questions like - is this your first time in the US? Student? F-1 visa? Which Univ? They will attach an I-94 card to your passport.

  • You are now in the USA! then go to the baggage are to fetch your luggage. Pick up a cart (at some airports you get this at a machine for $1) to carry the bags. Then pick up your bags as they come out on the conveyor (suitable eye-catching labels help here). If you don't get your baggage inform the enquiry section – you may have to wait 0.5-1 hour here. Cart your baggage to nearby Customs. If asked tell them that you are a student, F-1 visa, school, dept., coming to US for the first time.

  • If asked to open the baggage do so slowly - do not mess up the place.

  • If asked about the masalas tell them that they are "dried Indian spices" to make traditional Indian food like curry. Rarely might they ask you to go to the agris. Dept. nearby - that is a pain. If asked about "vibuthi" tell them that it is holy Hindu powder used for prayer.

  • Note: In most cases you will NOT be asked to open your suitcases at all & will be simply waved through. Now go to the counter of your airlines and give them your check-in bags that you will collect at your final destination.

  • Never leave your baggage unattended. Don't go out of the airport until somebody comes & picks you up. If you have doubts about the guy who comes to pick you up, don't hesitate to ask for his ID. [All this is of course being a little extra cautious]

  • Once you reach your friend's house (or other destination) call home & inform them of reaching safely.
For additional information, click here.



March 5, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Very nice Info!!!!
It can be really difficult to keep all these things in mind better take a print out of the same and keep wid you while traveling in addition i have given instructions to follow from Indian Airport to US Home in

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