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Students: Follow These Steps to Avoid Receiving a Form I-515A

December 23, 2015

F or M students who arrive at a U.S. port of entry without all of their necessary documents or with a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) status issue may receive a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor.”

If you are traveling internationally this holiday season, you can avoid receiving a Form I‑515A by following these important steps:

  1. Check in with your designated school official (DSO) before traveling abroad. Your DSO can ensure that your SEVIS record is up-to-date and in active status before you leave.
  2. Make sure that your Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” is up-to-date and signed.  Travel signatures must be within the past 12 months for F-1 students, and the past 6 months for M-1 students.
  3. Ensure that you have a valid passport. Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the date that you plan to re-enter the United States.
  4. Bring the letter of acceptance from your Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified institution, applicable financial evidence and your I-901 SEVIS Fee receipt. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer may ask you to show these documents upon arrival. Remember, the SEVIS ID on your Form I-20 and the SEVIS ID on your I‑901 SEVIS Fee receipt must match.
  5. Hand-carry all travel documents with you while you are in transit. Do not put documents in your checked luggage.

If you are missing documents and do receive a Form I-515A when you arrive, it is important that you respond in a timely manner. If you do not properly respond, you are at risk for termination. The best way to avoid termination is to make sure that you prepare and have everything you need before you travel abroad.

Do you have friends who plan to travel during the holiday season? Share this post with them on social media using the hashtag #StudyintheStates.

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