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USA Travel Guidlines

There's no guarantee that student will be issued a visa, it is advisable not to make buy tickets until you have a visa. Be aware that a valid visa does not guarantee entry into the US: it only allows you to travel to a US port-of-entry and request permission to enter the US. Permission to enter is given by a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official.

Always carry your visa-related documents in your hand luggage, as you’ll need to be able to present the documents at your port of entry. Documents you should keep with you include:

  • Passport

  • SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019

  • Evidence of financial resources

  • Evidence of student status (such as recent tuition receipts and transcripts)

  • Name and contact information for your Designated School Official (DSO), including a 24-hour emergency contact number at your chosen institution.

  • If you’re an exchange student: letter from your home university stating your intent to return to your home university.

You must have your Form I-20/DS-2019 every time you enter the US – if you take a vacation outside of the US you will need the SEVIS form to re-enter the country.

Arrival in the US

If arriving in the US by plane, you’ll need to fill in a Customs Declaration form (CF-6059) before you land. The flight attendants can assist you to fill the form.  You will also need to fill in an Arrival/Departure Record I-94 form, online or paper form. The validity of your student visa is the date shown on your visa. The CBP officer will record a separate date or “D/S” (duration of status) on your I-94 form. This is the date by which you must leave the US. You may stay in the US until this date even if your visa expires during your stay. However, if you depart the US with an expired visa, you will need to obtain a new one before being able to return and resume your studies. A student visa cannot be renewed or re-issued in the US; it must be done at a US embassy or consulate abroad.

If you are given a paper I-94 form, the date will be noted on the paper. Make sure to keep paper I-94 form safely with your passport as you'll need to return it to the CBP officer when you leave the US. 

If you have an electronic I-94, a CBP official will instead record your departure using manifest information obtained from the air or sea carrier with which you are travelling.

You should report to the office in your institution which is responsible for assisting international students within 30 days of your course start date, as this appears on your SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 form. This could be the Office of International Services, the Office of International Education, the International Programs Office, or similar. A Designated School Official (DSO) will validate your intended participation by reporting your arrival to the SEVIS system. This must be done within the 30 days or your record on SEVIS will be automatically terminated and you may be considered to be in violation of your status in the US.

The DSO will also be available to advise you on matters such as insurance. As the US does not have a social healthcare system, it will almost certainly be a requirement of enrolment at your US institution that you provide proof of having purchased private health insurance to cover you for medical treatment.

Using your visa

As there is no guarantee you will be issued a visa, do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa. Be aware that a valid visa does not guarantee entry into the US: it only allows you to travel to a US port-of-entry and request permission to enter the US. Permission to enter is given by a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official.

Always carry your visa-related documents in your hand luggage, as you’ll need to be able to present the documents at your port of entry. Documents you should keep with you include:

  • Passport

  • SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019

  • Evidence of financial resources

  • Evidence of student status (such as recent tuition receipts and transcripts)

  • Name and contact information for your Designated School Official (DSO), including a 24-hour emergency contact number at your chosen institution.

  • If you’re an exchange student: letter from your home university stating your intent to return to your home university.

You must have your Form I-20/DS-2019 every time you enter the US – if you take a vacation outside of the US you will need the SEVIS form to re-enter the country.