Getting into the U.S.
Always Hand-Carry Your Documents
Do not store your passport or DS-2019 or other immigration documents in your baggage or luggage.
If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will be unable to present the documents at your port of entry. As a result, you may not be able to enter the United States.
As You Arrive at the Port of Entry
All visitors entering the United States must state their reason for wishing to enter the country. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important for J-1 Visa holders to tell the CBP Officer that they will be an exchange visitor. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school program where you will enroll/participate.
Once your inspection is successfully completed:
- The inspecting officer will stamp your passport with date and port of entry information. The officer will also write the classification being given which should be valid until D/S meaning duration of status
Secondary Inspections Requirements
If the CBP officer at the port of entry cannot initially verify your information 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 without causing delays for other arriving passengers.
It is important to answer all questions the CBP officer asks. Remember to remain calm. Secondary inspection is a normal process.
The CBP officer will first attempt to verify the status of J-1 visa holders by using the Student and Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS). In the event that the CBP officer needs to verify your admission/participation with your sponsoring school or program, the school may be called.
Under certain circumstances, the CBP officer may issue a “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor” Form (I-515A), which authorizes temporary admission into the United States. If you are admitted with the Form I-515A, bring this to the attention of the Office of International Programs International Student Advisor so that proper documentation can be submitted by the deadline.
All non-immigrant visitors holding visas-regardless of race, national origin, or religion -participate in the US-VISIT, a comprehensive registration tracking system for entries to and exits from the United States. The program involves obtaining a scan of fingerprints and a digital photograph. For more information click here.
The I-94 is the Arrival / Departure Record, in either paper or electronic format and serves as an official record of where and when non-U.S. citizens entered the country. It also gives the classification and the date by which the visitor may stay. Most Arrival/Departure records are electronically created and must be printed by the foreign visitor after arrival. Visitors to the U.S. arriving via air or sea are no longer required to complete paper Customs and Border Protection Form I-94 or I-94W. Visitors will need to file their I-94s electronically within a few days of their arrival, and print two copies of their I-94s: one for OIP and one for their personal records. Visitors can access their CBP arrival/departure record information online here. For more information, please visit the CBP website.