Step 7: Enter the U.S.

At the Port of Entry

A Port of Entry is the U.S. immigration and customs inspection location at an international airport or land border crossing. When you reach a Port of Entry, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will ask about the purpose of your trip and for information about your final destination (i.e., FSU). The CBP officer may ask you to present any of the following documents:

  • Valid passport with valid F-1 visa (visa not required for Canadian citizens)
  • Original, signed I-20
  • SEVIS I-901 fee receipt
  • Funding information (to support the amount documented on your I-20 form)
  • Previous Academic Records
  • Birth or Marriage Certificates
  • Destination address in the U.S. (even if temporary). Do not use the address of your academic department or the Center for Global Engagement
  • Customs Declaration form

In addition to the above documents, we recommend you carry with you on the plane money to cover initial expenses, immunization records and a list of any medications you are bringing into the U.S. Certain medications, including vitamins, may be confiscated if you do not have proper documentation. Do not pack any of the above documents in your check-in luggage.

After inspecting your documents, the CBP officer will stamp your date of entry and write your visa status (“F-1,” “F-2”), and “D/S” (duration of status) in your passport. If the CBP officer writes an incorrect visa status or a date instead of “D/S”, let him or her know right away. It is much easier to get this corrected at the Port of Entry than it is later.

Your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record is proof of your lawful admission to the U.S. You will receive an I-94 each time you go through a Port of Entry. If you traveled to the U.S. by airplane, you will be able to access your I-94 online at Save it as a PDF file or print out a hard copy for your records. If you enter the U.S. through a land border crossing, a CBP officer will issue you a paper I-94 form.

Additional situations at the Port of Entry

Secondary Inspection. If the CBP officer at the Port of Entry cannot initially verify your information, or if you do not have all of the required documentation, the officer may direct you to an interview area known as “secondary inspection.” Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research to verify information without causing delays for other arriving passengers. If the CBP officer asks to contact the Center for Global Engagement, the main phone number is 850-644-1702. Business hours 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. If you are asked to contact the Center for Global Engagement after business hours, call the Center for Global Engagement main line for after-hours emergency instructions.

Form I-515. If the CBP officer believes your immigration documents are incomplete or erroneous, you may receive a form I-515 with an instruction sheet. If you do, come to the Center for Global Engagement as soon as you arrive. Do not send any documents anywhere before consulting with one of our staff members, as the address provided for mailing the I-515 varies. The form I-515 gives you only 30 days to remain in the U.S. legally and provide proof of your visa status, so do not delay.

Items prohibited on flights or at the POE

Make sure that you do not bring any items in your carry-on or checked luggage that are prohibited by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). In addition, certain items cannot be brought into the U.S. See the CBP website for details.