Preparing to Enter the U.S. in F-1 Status

The Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) has put together some tips to help international students preparing to travel to the U.S. in F-1 status.

Make Certain Your Immigration Documents are in Hand and Up-to-Date

As you pack your bags for travel, make certain you have the immigration documents required for you to enter the U.S. in F-1 student status.

  1. Valid Passport – with an expiration date at least 6 months into the future
  2. Valid F-1 visa (Canadian citizens are visa exempt)
  3. Emerson Form I-20* printed out in paper copy
  4. Also suggested: I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt

*Returning students: Your Form I-20 must be signed (on page 2) within 12 months of the date you intend to enter the U.S. If you need an updated I-20 Travel Signature, please submit an OISA Request Form. Allow 48 hours for Travel Signature requests. 

New first time students: No page 2 signature is required until after you have arrived in the U.S.

Admission to the U.S. through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

As you request admission to the U.S. in F-1 status, be well prepared for immigration and customs inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP):

  • Print out a paper copy of your electronic I-20. While you may have received your Form I-20 electronically via email attachment, you must print a hard copy (paper copy) to carry with you and present to CBP.
  • Carry your immigration documents in your hand luggage. You will pass immigration inspection before retrieving your checked bags. Be sure you have your Form I-20 and other support documents with you in your hand luggage.
  • Complete your Form I-94 in flight. You will need to complete a Form I-94 Arrival Form on the airplane prior to your U.S. landing.
  • Carry proof of Emerson’s hybrid learning plan. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Guidance prohibits new students from entering the U.S. for study that is 100% online. Consider carrying proof of your course registration and of Emerson’s hybrid study plan.
  • Pay attention to customs restrictions. In addition to immigration requirements, pay attention to U.S. customs restrictions, including banned substances and currency reporting. See: 

New Student SEVIS Check-In

All new international students arriving on campus must complete a New Student SEVIS Check-In. The Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) will email you information about the SEVIS Check-In process. You will need to present copies of your U.S. immigration documents in order for OISA to verify your lawful status and “activate” your SEVIS immigration record. 

Complete the New Student SEVIS Check-In

Resources for New Students

See the following links below for answers to other frequently asked questions for new arriving students:

Getting to Know Boston