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Celebrating Columbus Day and Arriving in the United States

Learn about arriving in the United States as an international student.

On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in North America. To celebrate this moment and what it means to our history, we celebrate Columbus Day on the second Monday of every October in the United States.

When did you come to the United States? Are you just getting ready to travel here? Make sure you are prepared to arrive in the United States.

Once you have received acceptance to a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school, received your Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” and applied for your F or M student visa, it is time to prepare for your arrival to the United States. Here is what you need to know:

  • Hand-carry all of your forms to present to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the port of entry.
    • Form I-20
    • Passport
    • Visa, if required
    • Proof of acceptance to your school
    • Your designated school official’s (DSO) contact information
    • Evidence of financial support
  • If you are missing any necessary forms or information, CBP officers may direct you to secondary inspection for more research to verify your status.
  • If a CBP officer cannot verify your status, you may be denied admission into the United States, but you will more likely receive a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor.” If so, you must submit this form and your missing information to SEVP within 30 days or you will need to depart the United States. Contact your DSO for help.
  • When you enter the United States at a land or sea port of entry, CBP will issue you a Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record.” See the CBP website for more information about the paperless Form I-94.
  • You must report to your school within 30 days of arriving in the United States. While you study in the United States, remember to maintain your status.

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