Arriving in the U.S.
When booking your flight, keep in mind that you can only enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the program report date on your I-20/DS-2019.
Please review the Academic Calendar for other important dates for the start of your program.
If you cannot arrive by the program report date, please contact your college for approval.
- Once approved, the college will then submit a Late Arrival Request e-form to OGS on your behalf.
- Students will then receive an email with a link to complete a Travel Support Letter Request which explains to Customs & Border Protection that your late arrival has been approved by your institution.
- OGS will process the request email the letter to the student. You may present the letter during Primary or Secondary inspection if needed.
Please ensure that you have connected with your professors regarding your late arrival so that any necessary arrangements for the first few class sessions can be made.
OGS will assist in connecting undergraduate students with Housing and Orientation as well.
Before the Airport
Preparing for a successful entry begins before you even leave your home.
Register Your Travel with the International Safety Office.
Ensure that you have gathered and printed the following important paperwork and pack it in your carry-on luggage for easy access:
- Original Form I-20 or DS-2019 (make sure you have signed it in the appropriate spot)
- Acceptance Letter from Northeastern University
- Proof of Funding (generally the financial documents you provided in your I-20/DS-2019 application)
- Proof of SEVIS Fee Payment (I-901 Fee Receipt)
- Passport, valid six months into the future from the date of your arrival)
- F-1/J-1 Visa Stamp (in your passport)
After Landing in the U.S.
When you are in the airport, you will first go through Primary Inspection. This is where a Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officer will review your documents to determine if you may enter the U.S. They may also ask you some basic questions. Provide truthful answers and ask for clarification if needed. Some items to note:
- Currency: if you/the family members you are travelling with currency amounting to more than $10,000, you must fill out an additional form to declare this. More information can be found here
- Food items: there are restrictions on certain food and agricultural items that are allowed into the US. Please reference the CBP website for more details
Generally, this step should not last more than a few minutes. If everything is in order, you may receive an entry stamp in your passport and you can proceed to collect any checked luggage. In most cases, the officer notes “D/S” (Duration of Status) on your passport pages (note that some airports no longer provide a stamp). This means you are allowed to stay in the U.S. for the length of time indicated on your I-20, provided that you maintain full-time enrollment and a valid F-1 visa status. Ensure your passport is properly stamped before exiting the immigration inspection area. Do not enter the U.S. in visitor status (B-1/B-2, WT, or WB). This status does not permit full-time study in the U.S.
If the officer has additional questions, you may be directed to Secondary Inspection.
Secondary Inspection (also called Deferred Inspection) allows a CBP officer more time to ask you additional questions and gather information to determine if you may be allowed entry. It is not a punishment, and does not mean that you will be denied entry.
The officer may ask you additional questions, or try to reach out to Northeastern to confirm your status. The following contact information may be helpful for you and the officer:
- International Safety Office:
- Office of Global Services:
Most importantly, ensure that you cooperate with the officer as much as possible so as not to create further difficulties. More information on Secondary Inspection can be found here.
The CBP officer may issue you a Form I-515A if you are missing paperwork, or if they are not able to verify your status. This form allows you temporary entrance into the US for up to 30 days, during which time you must collect and submit the necessary evidence to the government to be able to remain in the US for the duration of your F-1 status (not just 30 days).
If you receive a Form I-515A, the Office of Global Services (OGS) is happy to provide guidance with your response to the government. Please complete the Request to Comply with I-515A e-form to notify us so that we may best assist.
Note that an I-515A should not have any negative impact on your status as long as you respond in a timely manner. More information on the form I-515A can be found here.
Check Your I-94 Record
The I-94 is an admissions record that contains information about your most recent entry to the US. It is issued to everyone who enters the US, and is updated with each entry you make. It contains your basic biographical information, as well as information about your visa status and how long you are allowed to remain in the US.
Once you have successfully cleared inspection and entered the US, you should retrieve your electronic I-94 record here. Note that it may take a few days after your entry for the record to populate.
Please review your record for accuracy. Two fields you may be unfamiliar with are “Class of Admission” and “Admit Until Date.” These fields should be filled out as follows:
- Class of Admission: matches what is listed on your visa stamp
- Admit Until Date: D/S (NOTE: this stands for “Duration of Status”)
If anything looks incorrect on your I-94 record, please visit this page for more information on how to request a correction.
Departing the Airport
A car service is great way to pre-arrange a convenient and safe ride from the airport to your final destination. OGS recommends Boston Carriage. Click here to visit their website and enter your reservation details. Use promo code HUSKY2020 for a 5% discount!
Tips for using Boston Carriage:
- Book your ride in advance as soon as possible to guarantee that there is availability on your date of travel. You will receive detailed instructions about where to meet your driver upon your arrival.
- Make sure to build in a 60-minute delay for clearing Customs & Border Protection and baggage claim after your flight arrival time.
- Traveling with friends or family? Consider booking a van instead of a car so there is enough room for your luggage.
- Expect “no-contact service” to decrease risk of COVID-19 transmission; this means all cars are outfitted with a partition between the driver and passenger area, the driver will be wearing a face mask, and vehicles will be sanitized before/after pick-up.
Ride-Share Apps (such as Uber or Lyft)
- Download the app before you travel. You can log onto wifi at the airport to use the app and communicate with your driver.
- Some airports, such as Boston-Logan, have a designated Ride App pick-up area. After collecting your luggage from baggage claim, follow signs and head to the appropriate spot before ordered the ride.
- Always check that the license plate of the car matches the information in the app to make sure you are getting into the correct car.
- Ask your driver to wear a mask and put down the windows for airflow to decrease risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Depending on your final destination, public transportation can be a great way to get around your new city! Make sure to look up in advance directions to get from the airport to your destination. Many areas have a transportation app you can download before you arrive.
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