Entering the U.S.

International students may enter the United States no more than 30 days before the program start date listed on their Form I-20 or Form DS-2019.  When you arrive at the first port of entry to the U.S. you will be required to show the documents listed below to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer. Be sure to carry these documents with you.  Do not pack them in your luggage.

Documents to Carry With You

Upon arrival to the U.S., you will be asked by a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officer to show the following documents:

  • Passport (Valid for at least 6 months into the future)
  • Valid F-1/J-1 entry visa
  • Proof of Financial Support
  • Brandeis Admission Letter
  • Form I-20/Form DS-2019

The CBP Officer may ask you similar questions to those asked at your visa interview. You should be prepared to have your photo taken and your fingerprints are digitally taken as part of the entry process.

If you do not have proper documentation upon your arrival to the United States, the CBP officer may either deny your entrance to the U.S. or grant you a temporary 30-day entry by issuing you 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

At the port of entry to the U.S., a CBP Officer will inspect your documents and generate an electronic Form I-94. You may or may not receive an entry stamp in your passport which should show either "F-1 - D/S" or "J-1 - D/S".   "D/S" indicates that you have been granted admission for "Duration of Status." 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 (as listed on your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019).

Your arrival/departure record, or your Form I-94, will be available for you to print out on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

You should go to this website to review and print out your Form I-94 to make sure that the information is accurate.   You will be required to submit your Form I-94 for the ISSO Online Check-In. You may also need a copy of your Form I-94 if you plan to apply for a Social Security Number or Driver's License.

If There Is A Mistake On Your Form I-94 

It is important to carefully review Form I-94.  Your Form I-94 should indicate the date and location of your arrival to the U.S. as well as the visa status with which you entered the country.

If you notice a mistake on your Form I-94, try to request a correction while you are still at the airport. If you do not notice the mistake until after you depart the airport, please contact your ISSO Advisor as soon as possible so that they 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 in the future.

Helpful Resources