STRATEGIES FOR A SUCCESSFUL ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES
This message is being sent to new Spring 2013 international students by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.
Remember, Your Travel Date into the United States Must Be On or Before January 23, 2013 (January 21, 2013 for exchange students and January 22, 2013 Dual Diploma students from Turkey).
If you have been issued an I-20 from Binghamton University with a start date of January 23, 2013 (01/23/2013), January 21, 2013 (01/21/2013) or January 22, 2013 (01/22/2013), and you are traveling to the United States from another country, you are required by US federal law to enter the United States on or before that date. If you have any questions regarding this requirement, please contact the ISSS at firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTENTS:1. What to Expect When You Arrive in the United States
2. Special Note for Citizens of Canada
3. Entering the United States by Plane? Expect Heightened Security, and Know the Baggage Requirements, Permitted and Prohibited Items
4. Carrying U.S. or Foreign Currency
5. Laptops and Other Electronic Devices
8. Document Problems
Immigration and customs are managed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. You will see CBP officers at all U.S. ports of entry. You should expect to go through both immigration and customs inspections at the U.S. port of entry. You may also be required to go through a pre-inspection procedure at certain airports abroad.
If you are traveling by plane from overseas, expect heightened security. Expect thorough inspections of your luggage and yourself at both departure and arrival. These inspections may delay your flights.
Whether you will be making your first entry into the United States or have entered the United States before, expect immigration and customs procedures at the various U.S. ports to result in some delays. You should present to the CBP Inspector your passport, SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 issued by Binghamton University, and the completed white, I-94 arrival/departure card that will be distributed by airplane personnel once you are on your flight to the United States. You should also be able to present proof of SEVIS Fee payment if you have been issued an I-20 for “initial entry” or a DS-2019 to “begin a new program.” We further recommend that you have with you any documents that show proof of your admission to Binghamton University and proof of financial support.
It is essential that you correctly complete the white I-94 arrival/departure card before submitting it to the CBP inspector. Please go to the following link http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/travel/i94complete.html
for a sample I-94 card and instructions for completing it correctly. We strongly recommend that you print the sample I-94 card and instruction page and carry it with you on the airplane, to assist you in filling out the card correctly.
Students must be consistent in how they enter their last, first and middle names. For example: some students may use their parent’s name as part of their name. Sometimes it is given as a middle name and other times as part of a hyphenated last name. Either usage is acceptable. However, one version must be used consistently, and no hyphen may be used when two last names are used by the student. If you have only one name, your I-20 or DS-2019, your student visa, and your I-94 card should have that name in the “family name” block. The “First Name” field will be blank.
Your name as it appears on your passport, visa stamp, I-20 and I-94 card must be identical. Spacing is an important as spelling and must be consistent.
When it is your turn at the inspection booth, be prepared to state the reason you wish to enter the United States. It is very important that you tell the CBP Inspector that you will be a student (or exchange student if appropriate). You should also be prepared to provide information regarding your final destination in the United States, which is Binghamton.
If you have recently attended another U.S. school, your Binghamton SEVIS I-20 may read “transfer pending from” and the name of your previous school. If you are questioned about the “transfer pending” notation, inform the immigration officer that Binghamton has advised you that your transfer will be completed once you arrive on campus and register for courses.
Answer all questions politely and briefly. Do not offer any information that goes beyond the scope of the question asked you.
The CBP Inspector will return your passport to you, will place an arrival stamp on one of its pages, will stamp and give to you the lower portion of your I-94 arrival/departure card, and return your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019. The I-94 card should be marked “F-1 D/S” or “J-1 D/S” on the immigration stamp.
Special Note: Remember that if you are entering the United States with a new F-1 or J-1 student visa that has never been used for U.S. entry before, the SEVIS I-20 or SEVIS DS-2019 that you present to the Immigration Inspector must be for the school listed on the visa, and you must enroll at that school. The U.S. federal immigration authorities report all arrivals to the school listed on the student’s SEVIS document, and “no shows” must be reported by the school to the U.S. federal immigration authorities.
If you have previously attended a U.S. school, have an unexpired U.S. student visa that has been used at least once to enter the United States so that you could attend the previous school, and if no more than five months has passed between the time you last attended that school and your entry date to the United States, you may use that visa and the SEVIS I-20 issued by Binghamton to enter the United States for enrollment at Binghamton.
Remember that if you carry more than $10,000 in U.S. or foreign currency, traveler’s checks, money orders or negotiable instruments, you must report it on your Customs Form at the U.S. port of entry. Failure to do so can result in the seizure of the currency. For more information on this regulation, see article 4 below.
Citizens of Canada are not required to obtain a U.S. visa to enter the United States. However, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will inspect your papers, either at a pre-inspection site in Canada or upon entry to the United States. You must have with you:
$ your Canadian passport
$ your admission letter to Binghamton
$ proof of Federal SEVIS Fee Payment
$ your Binghamton Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019)
$ proof of financial support that corresponds to the information on your I-20 or DS-2019
It is essential that you enter the United States in the appropriate status, so be sure to have complete documentation with you.
If your trip to the United States will be by airplane, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the security and safety procedures that are currently in use by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. As we mentioned earlier, if you are traveling by plane from overseas, expect heightened security. Expect thorough inspections of your luggage and yourself at both departure and arrival. These inspections may delay your flights.
Detailed information on security, access requirements, checkpoints for passengers and baggage, permitted and prohibited items, and recommendations for travel preparation is available at
Sometimes, a student carries a large amount of money into or out of the United States. Please remember that it is a federal law that anyone carrying more than $10,000 in a monetary instrument of any form must declare that money, or risk having it seized by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials. Here is the explanation of the law:
"There is no limit on the total amount of monetary instruments that may be brought into or taken out of the United States, nor is it illegal to do so. However, if you transport or cause to be transported (including by mail or other means) more than $10,000 in negotiable monetary instruments on any occasion into or out of the United States or if you receive more than $10,000, you must file a Report of International Transportation of International Currency or Monetary Instruments (FinCen105) with U.S. Customs and Border Protection denoted in the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, 31 U.S.C. 1101, et. seq. Failure to comply can result in civil and criminal penalties, including seizure of the currency or monetary instruments. Monetary instruments include U.S. or foreign coin, currency, travelers' checks, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form."
In past years, there have been students carrying large sums of money whose funds have been seized for failure to declare. Do not let this happen to you.
Many individuals, both US citizens and foreign nationals, enter the United States with laptop computers and other electronic devices. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has recently updated its website with information on their search policy for such items. Travelers should be aware that both CBP and ICE have the right to search any form of electronic media, which CBP and ICE define as any item that may contain information, including computers, floppy and compact disks, DVDs, drives, tapes, mobile phones, personal digital assistants or PDAs, BlackBerry smart phones, cameras, and music players (including iPods and MP3 players), without necessarily suspecting that the individual may be carrying unlawful information. Part of this policy is based on CBP’s concern that such searches are essential to prevent terrorists from transporting information over the border. CBP has stated that such searches are limited in scope, and that out of 400 million travelers passing through U.S. borders annually, only a tiny percentage are referred to secondary baggage inspection and of those, only a fraction have electronic devices that may be checked.
Despite the limited number of electronic devices that are checked, travelers need to be aware of what is on their computers and other electronic devices. You should remove any problematic content. If the computer or other electronic device is used by others, check the browser history and make sure that the contents will not cause problems if searched.
To learn more, read the August 27, 2009 statement from the Department of Homeland
Security regarding Border Searches of Electronic Information
From that link, you can also access the directives published by both ICE and CBP.
Procedures at the U.S. ports of entry accommodate both SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) requirements as well as U.S.-VISIT and Special Registration requirements (explained below).
CBP officials are required to record your arrival data into the SEVIS database at the time you enter, and return your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 to you, after they have stamped it. However, not all CBP officials will have access to SEVIS at their booths in the "primary lanes."
Depending upon the port of entry, some students may be directed to a secondary inspection area or separate "student lanes" so that their data can be entered into SEVIS. Do not be anxious or alarmed if you are directed to go to a secondary inspection area. It may well be that at the airport where you have landed, the SEVIS databases can only be accessed from computers in the secondary inspection area.
CBP has advised in the past that processing at land, sea, and air ports may take more time, so travel and connecting flight plans should take this into account.
US-VISIT stands for United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology. This is an entry record keeping system for all non-immigrants (tourists, students, workers, etc) traveling to and from the United States. Race, religion, and national origin are not factors in the US-VISIT program.
US-VISIT requires that non-immigrants entering the United States have finger prints taken by placing their fingers on an inkless fingerprint scanner. Non-immigrants will then be asked to look into a camera for their digital photograph to be taken. The only non-immigrants exempt from this process are citizens of Canada, based on existing agreements with the United States and Canada.
US-VISIT is also in operation at land borders with Canada and Mexico.
For more information, visit: http://www.dhs.gov/us-visit
In certain cases, if there is some problem with your documents, you may be issued a 30-day entry on your I-94 card and issued a form I-515A, usually with instructions to see your international student advisor. Examine your I-94 card carefully as you leave the immigration booth. F-1 students and J-1 students should have their I-94s marked "D/S" which means Duration of Status, along with a stamp indicating the date you entered the United States. If an expiration date is written on the I-94 instead of "D/S," and you are in F or J status, come to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services as soon as possible.
Anyone who is denied admission at a U.S. port of entry should be very cautious about arguing with the immigration official. You may risk being issued "expedited removal," which now entails a five-year bar on admission to the United States. If you are denied admission, first try to contact the office of International Student and Scholar Services for assistance, but also make it known to the Immigration Official that you are willing to withdraw your application for admission to the country rather than be subject to expedited removal.
The vast majority (99%) of all new Binghamton students will have few if any problems during their U.S. port of entry inspection. The most important thing to remember is to have all of your required visa documents with you. Do not put any visa documents such as your passport or I-20 (DS-2019 for J visa holders) that you will need for immigration inspection in your check-through luggage! Remember as well to be patient if you encounter long lines or additional inspections.
We close by wishing all of our new students a safe journey from their homes to Binghamton, and a smooth immigration inspection process. We look forward to meeting you soon.
International Student and Scholar Services
Binghamton University, State University of New York