Port of Entry (Customs)

Planning your arrival to the United States

When you arrive in the United States at an airport or through a border crossing, you will have to go through customs. There are a few important things you need to know and do in order to enter the country.

Before you leave home

  • Confirm that your passport and visa stamp are valid for entry into the United States. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected entry.
  • Make sure that your visa stamp accurately reflects your correct immigration status.
  • Make photocopies of all your immigration documents. Leave the photocopy at home and bring your original documents with you.

Documents you need to enter the United States

There are some specific documents you need to successfully enter the United States. You should carry these with you—not in your baggage.

Make sure you have these documents

  • Your passport, with valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp (ensure that your passport will be valid for at least 6 months from the date you plan to enter the U.S.)
  • Your SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019
  • Your SEVIS fee receipt
  • Evidence of financial resources

It is also a good idea to carry these documents

  • Your admission letter
  • Evidence of Student/Exchange Visitor status (such as recent tuition receipts or transcripts), if you are a transfer student
  • OIS contact information

Going through U.S. customs

You will be directed to a Department of Homeland Security inspection station when you arrive. Have your passport and SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 ready.

You will be asked to state the reason you wish to enter the United States. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the customs and border protection officer that you will be a student or exchange visitor. Be prepared to include the name and address of the IU campus where you will enroll.

Once your inspection is complete, you are free to continue on your journey to IU.

Important information if you bring agricultural products into the United States

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Department of Agriculture–Animal Plant Health Inspection Service personnel ensure appropriate and consistent importation of plant and animal products shipped or carried via air, land, and sea through U.S. ports of entry.

Here you will find links to information that will be helpful to you if you are bringing agricultural products into the United States.

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