You have packed your stuff, you farewelled your family and friends and have boarded the airplane. You are extremely excited about your new chapter in life – studying abroad in the United States. You have probably imagined what your room looks like, wondered about the people you will meet and how you are going to like your classes.
Arriving in a new country as an International Student where English is not your first language, and just having left home to take on a journey by yourself, we wanted to give you some insights and tips on what to expect at the airport when you enter the U.S.
On board of the aircraft: Your airline representatives will give you a white Form I-94 (if you are a visa holder) or green Form I-94W (if you are a Visa Waiver Program traveler) to fill out before you arrive in the U.S.
Departing the plane: Make sure you carry the following items with you and have them handy when you get out of the plane:
- Passport (including attached envelope of immigration documents) with your student visa
- SEVIS Form 1-20 AB, I-20 MN, or DS-2019
- Evidence of financial resources
- Name and Address of your school
Getting in line at the Customs: Make sure you enter the right waiting line that says “non citizens”:
- When it’s your turn, a Customs and Border Protection officer will guide you through the inspection process. Have your travel documents ready, such as your passport and Form I-94 or Form I-94W.
- The officer will review your travel documents and ask you questions, such as why you are visiting and how long you will stay. Don’t be intimidated if the officer repeats his questions. It is part of the process.
- The officer will scan your fingerprints and take your photograph with a digital camera.
- The officer will then tell you when you have completed the process and you can go to pick up your luggage.
Follow the signs to the Baggage claim: Once you cleared customs, you will be going to the Baggage Claim where you will pick up your luggage. In case you need a trolley it may be a good idea to carry some US$ quarters or dollars with you, as in most airports you will have to pay to use one.
Leaving the airport: You should check with your school prior to departure whether a shuttle service from the airport to your school is being offered. Other modes of transportation are taxis, which usually depart right outside the baggage claim area, or public transport.
Arrive at your school safe and sound and have the best time of your life!
If you have any further questions on what to expect at U.S. airport, please ask us in the comments below!