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: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/clearing-cbp 

Other Campus Resources

Additional information about arrival to the U.S. and to Emerson campus can be found at:

We look forward to having you on campus soon! Stay tuned for additional information about orientation and semester check-in.