Entering the United States / Arrival Information
Enter U.S. within 30 days before program starting date on I-20
DO NOT attempt to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program starting date on your I-20! Although you may apply for an F-1 visa up to 120 days prior to the I-20 start date, F-1 visa holders are NOT permitted to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the start date on your I-20. Also, entry to the U.S. after the first day of classes requires permission from University officials and may require issuance of a new I-20 form.
Enter U.S. on F1 visa only
DO NOT enter the United States on B-1/B-2 visitor visa or F-2 dependent visa even if you have one in your passport. You will not be allowed to attend school on B-1/B-2 or F-2 visa in the U.S. U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) would deny your application to change status from B-1/B-2 to F1 if you have evidence of intending to go school prior to your arrival, such as having applied for school or having requested a Form I-20.
Use CUI I-20 when entering the U.S.
DO NOT enter the United States with an I-20 issued by another school! If it is the first time you have attended school in the U.S., your F1 visa stamp should bear the CUI name. If you have already obtained a visa with another school's name listed on it, please contact PDSO by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (949) 214-3473.
Procedures at the Port of Entry
Before you arrive at the U.S. port of entry (airport or immigration check-point at the border), you will be asked to complete an Arrival/Departure Form ‖ (I-94 card) which consists of two identical parts. Be certain to write your name on the Form I-94 exactly the same as it appears in your passport and on your F1 visa.
At the port of entry, you will go through immigration and customs inspection lines, and you will need to present your passport, I-20, and I-94 form. After stamping your documents, the Immigration Officer will return your passport, I-20 and one part of your I-94 card.
Check Your Documents After the Immigration Officer Gives Them to You
U.S. Immigration Officers handle thousands of people every day and, like all of us, they occasionally make mistakes. We strongly recommend that you check your documents before leaving the inspecting officer's desk to ensure they have been processed correctly. Errors on these documents will cause complications at a later date if you apply for a U.S. Social Security Number or a California Driver's License. Your documents ARE correct if all of the following are true:
- Your I-20 has been stamped with your arrival date, AND the Immigration Officer has hand-written two items on the stamp:(1) your correct immigration status (F-1) AND (2) the notation ―D/S.
- Your I-94 Arrival/Departure Form (little white card stapled in your passport by the Immigration Officer) ALSO bears the same stamp as your I-20, and ALSO has your immigration status (F-1) AND the notation ―D/S‖ handwritten on it.
- Your passport has been stamped with an entry date.
Keep all these documents (the I-94 card, and your I-20 stamped and returned to you by the inspecting officer) together with your passport at all times. Carry all of these documents with you each time you travel.