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Planning Your Arrival

Tips for a Smooth Arrival

  1. Plan Your Arrival
    You may be refused entry into the United States if you attempt to arrive more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your Form I-20 (for F-1 visitors) or Form DS-2019 (for J-1 visitors). Read our Pre-Arrival Guide (pdf) for more information.
  2. Hand Carry Important Documents
    Do not check the following documents in your baggage. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will be unable to present the documents at your port of entry and as a result you may not be able to enter the United States.
    • Your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay
    • Your visa document (Form- I-20 for F-1 visitors or DS-2019 for J-1 visitors)
    • In addition, it is strongly recommended that you also hand carry the following documentation:
      • Evidence of financial resources
      • Your UMass Lowell Acceptance Letter
      • Receipt of your SEVIS fee payment
  3. Complete Your Entry Paperwork

When entering the U.S. as a nonimmigrant, the Customs Border Patrol (CBP) Officer will examine your passport and visa and then issues a passport admission stamp. This stamp indicates the status the student entered the United States. 

Nonimmigrants who arrive to the United States by air or sea should be issued a passport admission stamp. If the student has received a stamp, there will also be an electronic I-94 record. To access this record, please visit the CBP website. Your electronic I-94 record should be printed immediately after each entry to the United States. 

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 that you tell the CBP Officer that you will be a student. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school program where you will enroll/participate. 

Additional Information

Secondary Inspection 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 to satisfy any questions they may have.

The inspector will first attempt to verify your status by using the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This is an electronic database tracking system.

Failure to comply with U.S. government entry-exit procedures may result in the denial of entry to the United States. 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 issued a Form I-515A upon arrival, please visit our office as this form will need immediate follow up.