Preparing to Enter the United States
Date of Entry to the U.S.
U.S. immigration regulations permit new F-1 students to enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to, but no later than, the program start date printed on page one of the Bennington I-20. Please consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the U.S.
Entry to the U.S. after the program start date is not guaranteed and is at the discretion of the Port of Entry Officer at the airport. In general, a student cannot arrive more than one week after classes start and must be enrolled full time for that term. Students who are not able to enter the U.S. by the program start date on the I-20 must contact ISS to request a late arrival permission letter.
Immigration Inspection Upon Arrival
Upon arrival to the U.S., students will present their passport, visa, I-20, and SEVIS I-901 Fee Payment Receipt to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer at the port of entry.
After reviewing the documents and updating the student’s SEVIS record with the entry information, the CBP officer will stamp the student’s passport notating F-1 D/S (Duration of Status), date and location of arrival in the U.S. If this is not completed, please bring it to the attention of the CBP officer so that it can be stamped with this annotation.
While the CBP officer is inspecting the immigration documents, students may be asked some general questions. Always answer honestly and politely. If there is a problem, suggest that they contact ISS.
After clearing customs, students should proceed to the Baggage Claim area to collect their bags. If the bags are not on the carousel, or they are marked, students should inform the airline service kiosk in the Baggage Claim area. It may be necessary to meet with an U.S. Customs officials (or Agricultural Dept.) if the bags are marked. They may ask about the contents of the bags or ask to open them up. Students should follow their instructions and answer their questions honestly and politely.
I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
All non-immigrants are assigned an I-94 number upon entry to the U.S. Students can access their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record from the CBP website. The printout will serve as an official I-94 record for federal and state government-based benefit applications, such as driver’s license and social security number.