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Travel Tuesday

Travel Tuesday: Know What to Expect During Holiday Travel

December 9, 2014
The holiday season is upon us, which means end of term exams, assignments that are winding down and perhaps plans to travel outside of the United States back to your home country.  It is important that you to know what to expect and what is required of you upon your return to the states.  Last week, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Director wrote a post for U.S. News about holiday travel and we want to follow his lead with our own Travel Tuesday blog series.  
This week, we start the series with three tips to ensure smooth holiday travel that we will expand on in the coming weeks. 
Tip 1: Prepare for the U.S. Port of Entry
Every time you enter the United States, you will arrive at a port of entry and meet with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers for primary and sometimes a secondary inspection. The CBP officer may ask questions about your reason for travel. They will inspect important documents, such as your passport, visa and Form 1-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status.” Hand-carry these items and do not put them in your checked luggage.
Tip 2: Understand Secondary Inspection
If the CBP officer cannot verify your information or you do not have all of the required documentation, you may be directed to an interview area known as secondary inspection. This allows CBP officers to do additional research to verify your information without causing delays for other passengers. In case a CBP officer needs to verify your information with the school, you should have your designated school official’s (DSO) contact information on hand, including a 24-hour emergency phone number. 
Tip 3: Know About the Form I-515A
Under certain circumstances, the CBP officer may issue you a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor.” This form authorizes temporary admission to the United States for 30 days while you obtain and submit the proper documentation to SEVP. Notify your DSO right away if you receive a Form I-515A. They will work with you to make sure you have everything in order and submitted on time.
Check the Study in the States blog throughout the month for more tips and information to help you maintain your status during the holiday season. Share your own holiday travel tips for international students with us on Facebook and Twitter using #TravelTuesday. 
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