Entering the U.S.

Students and exchange visitors entering the United States for the first time under their respective nonimmigrant visa classification may only be admitted up to 30-days prior to the program start date listed on their Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. However, a U.S. visa allows you to travel to a port-of-entry (airport, for example) and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security, Customs Border Protection (CBP) immigration officer to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S.

Please have your passport with U.S. visa stamp, Form I-20/DS-2019, acceptance letter from YSU, completed I-94, and financial documents on your person. Do not check them in your baggage! If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will not be able to show the documents to the Customs and Border Protection Officer and, as a result, may not be able to enter the United States. They should be presented, upon request, to the immigration officer.

Arrival in the U.S.

Upon arrival at the port of entry, proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers for inspection. As you approach the inspection station, be sure that: passport, SEVIS Form I-20 or Form DS-2019; completed Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record; and, CF-6059 Customs Declaration Form available for presentation to the CBP Officer. The Form I-94 should reflect the address where you will reside (not the address of the school or program sponsor).

If you are entering through a land or designated seaport, the Customs and Border Protection Officer will provide the necessary CF-6059, Customs Declaration Form and Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record at the port of entry. If you do not understand a form, ask the CBP Officer for assistance.

Like all entering visitors, you will be asked to state the reason you wish to enter the United States. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the CBP Officer that you will be a student or exchange visitor. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school or exchange visitor program where you will enroll/participate.

Once your inspection is complete, the inspecting officer will:

  • Stamp your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 for duration of status ("D/S") for F and J visa holders.
  • Stamp the Form I-94 and staple it in the passport
  • Return the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019

Please make sure that both your I-94 and your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 are stamped appropriately.

If you experience problems at the border, please call CISP at (330) 941-2336 Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM Eastern Standard Time. After 5:00 PM you can call (330) 941-3527 too speak with the Youngstown State University Police Department. They can assist you in contacting a member of our staff.