If you arrive at the U.S. port of entry without all of your required documents or with unsigned or missing information, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer may deny your entry into the United States. As an alternative, the officer has discretion to issue you a Form I-515A, which allows you temporary entry into the United States for 30 days.
What does it mean if you receive a Form I-515A?
Receiving a Form I-515A is not good, but it is better than having to travel back home. It is serious and can become a real problem if you do not pay attention.
You must send all of the required documents, signatures or information to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) I-515A processing team within the period of temporary entry. If you do not do this, SEVP will terminate your SEVIS record. Your student, exchange visitor or dependent status will end, and you must leave the United States or file for reinstatement of status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within five months.
How to Avoid Getting a Form I-515A
To avoid receiving a Form I-515A, you should hand-carry the following paperwork when you arrive at the U.S. port of entry (Do not put them in your checked baggage. You will not receive your baggage until you have received admittance from CBP.):
- A valid passport
- A signed Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status" for F or M nonimmigrants (students or their dependents) or a signed Form DS-2019, “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status” for J nonimmigrants (exchange visitors or their dependents)
- Evidence of financial support (If you must have a visa, provide whatever information you provided to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate)
You also should hand-carry (not put in checked baggage) the following documentation, if applicable:
- Evidence of acceptance by your school or exchange visitor program, such as recent tuition receipts or an acceptance letter
- Paper receipt for payment of your I-901 SEVIS fee
- Name and contact information for your designated school official (DSO), including a 24-hour emergency contact telephone number at the school
Make sure that all this paperwork is up-to-date, accurate and verified, where necessary.
What to do if CBP issues you a Form I-515A:
The CBP officer who issues you a Form I-515A may tell you what documents, signatures or information are missing or incomplete. The form is a checklist that describes exactly what is missing or incomplete and tells you what you must do.
You have 30 days from the date of entry into the United States to submit your correct paperwork to the SEVP I-515A processing team. If you receive a Form I-515A, the first thing you should do is to alert your DSO. Your DSO will work with you to make sure you have everything in order. Collect the necessary paperwork, and send the originals by mail.
You must submit this paperwork before the “admit until” date on your Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record.” Mail the documentation to the following address:
Student and Exchange Visitor Program
ATTN: SEVIS/I-515A Processing Team
500 12th Street SW STOP 5600
Washington, DC 20536-5600
SEVP will process your documents and return them to a DSO at your school. If your submission is correct, SEVP will return your documents with a letter of approval and the Form I-94 will have an extended departure date. Then, you can get the documents from your DSO for you to keep safely.