Preparing for Your Arrival to the U.S.

When to Arrive at Brandeis

F-1 and J-1 students may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the program start date as listed on Form I-20 or Form DS-2019.

The program start date is the first day of classes, which is listed on the first page of the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019.

When scheduling travel arrangements, please keep in mind that you should arrive at Brandeis in time to attend the first day of orientation programming as scheduled by the academic program or department.

While you may find it helpful to arrive early to settle in before starting your orientation program, please be aware that you will need to wait until orientation begins in order to receive a campus ID card and you will need to wait to move in to any pre-arranged on-campus housing until residence halls open. Students will receive additional information from Admissions, the graduate school or their academic department regarding on-campus housing assignments (if available) and orientation schedules.

Entering the United States Through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Upon arrival to the U.S., individuals will be asked by a U.S. Immigration Inspector to present the following:

Always carry these documents on your person. Do NOT pack them in your checked luggage, as you must show your documents to the CBP officer before you are allowed to claim your luggage. The CBP officer may ask similar questions to those asked during the visa interview. Individuals should also be prepared to have their photo and index fingerprints digitally taken as part of the entry process.

If you do not have proper documentation upon arrival, the CBP officer may either deny your entrance to the U.S. or grant you a temporary 30-day entry as noted with a Form I-515A.

Please contact the ISSO immediately in case of any difficulties entering the United States or if you are issued a Form I-515A.

Form I-94

If you are entering the U.S. by air or sea, the immigration officer should stamp your passport at the port of entry after completing an inspection of your documentation and returning your documents to you and create an electronic Form I-94 for you. The stamp should have a notation that reads either "F-1 - D/S" or "J-1 - D/S." This indicates that you have an F-1 or J-1 visa and have been granted admission for duration of status ("D/S"). Duration of status means that as long as you are maintaining your F-1 or J-1 status, you may legally remain in the U.S. until the end of your academic program.

Your arrival information, or your electronic I-94, will be available to print on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

You will be required to print this out and save it for ISSO Online Check-In, as well as if you are applying for a Social Security Number or Driver's License.

Please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website to see if your arrival information is correct, and print out your Form I-94.

If you are entering the U.S. by land, the immigration officer may also issue you a paper Form I-94, a small white card stapled into your passport. It should read "F-1 - D/S" or "J-1 - D/S."

If There is a Mistake on your Form I-94 or Passport Stamp

It is important to carefully review the Form I-94 (paper or electronic) and passport stamp that is issued to you at the port-of-entry. Your Form I-94 and passport stamp should indicate the date and location of your arrival to the U.S. as well as the visa status with which you are entering the country.

If you notice a mistake on your Form I-94 (paper or electronic) or passport stamp, please try to request a correction while you are at the airport. If you do not notice the mistake until after you depart the airport, please bring it to the ISSO as soon as possible so that we can advise you on how to request a correction. If you do not request a correction, your status may not be recorded properly and/or you may have difficulties with certain immigration benefit-related applications (such as F-1 Optional Practical Training) in the future.

Once you arrive in the U.S., the next step is to complete your mandatory ISSO Online Check-In.