U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is committed to facilitating your stay in the United States while you take advantage of our nation’s academic, educational, and cultural offerings. To enhance security without slowing legitimate travel, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has instituted some changes in U.S. entry and exit procedures. Careful planning and preparation by international visitors can ensure that any delay based on these procedures is minimal.
Plan Your Arrival
Exchange Visitors are prohibited from entering the United States more than 30 days in advance of the program start date identified in Item 3 of the DS 2019. Some Exchange Visitors Program sponsors may restrict early entry to less than 30 days. Please check with you sponsor for specific requirements.
Always Hand Carry Your 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. 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 and, if re-entering the United States, the DS-2019.
In addition, it is strongly recommended that you also hand carry the following documentation:
- Evidence of financial resources;
- Letter of acceptance as a participant in the Exchange Visitor Program;
- Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee, Form I-797; and
- Name and contact information for your sponsoring organization, including a 24-hour emergency contact number.
For greater detail on procedures for traveling and arriving in the United States, visit: http://educationusa.state.gov/your-5-steps-us-study/prepare-your-departure
Complete Your Entry Paperwork
If Arriving By Air: Flight attendants will distribute Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival- Departure Record Forms (I-94). These must be completed prior to landing.
If Arriving By Land or Sea: The CBP Officer at the port of entry will provide the necessary Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival-Departure Record Forms (I-94) to be filled out upon your arrival.
As You Arrive at the Port of Entry
Proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers. Have the following documents available for presentation:
- your passport;
- the sealed envelope that contains your DS-2019;
- Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94);
- Customs Declaration Form (CF-6059).
The Form I-94 should reflect the address where you will reside, not the address of the program.
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 an exchange visitor. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school program where you will enroll/participate.
Once your inspection is successfully completed, the inspecting officer will:
- Stamp your SEVIS Form for duration of status (“D/S”) for J visa holders with date and port of entry
- Stamp the Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94) and staple it in the passport
Following Admission Into The United States
Exchange Visitors must report to their Exchange Visitor Program sponsor within 30 days of the program begin date identified in line 3 of the DS 2019 to have their participation in the program activity validated.
Exchange Visitors in programs beginning with “G” listed in item 2 of the DS 2019, and who are being sponsored for less than 30 days, must have their sponsor validate their participation prior to the end date listed in Item 3 of the DS 2019. Failure to have participation validated will result in an automatic invalidated SEVIS record.
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 in order to verify information without causing delays for other arriving passengers.
The CBP officer will first attempt to verify your status by using the Student and Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS). In the event that the CBP officer needs to verify your admission/participation with your sponsor we strongly recommend that you have the name and telephone number of your J-1 Exchange Visitor Program sponsor available. In the event you arrive during non-business hours (evenings, weekends, holidays), you should also have the emergency phone number.
Failure to comply with U.S. government entry-exit procedures may result in your being denied 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. Work with your program sponsor to submit proper documentation without delay.
National Security Entry-Exit (NSEER) Registration System
Some individuals will be asked to provide additional information under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS. A packet of information will be available at the port of entry explaining the registration procedure. For more information: http://www.ice.gov/doclib/nseers/SRProc.pdf