Entering the United States

Now that all the visa arrangements have been made, and you are all set to enter the United States, get ready to be inspected and be scrutinized.

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is a bureau of the United States Department of Homeland Security, is responsible with all the ports of entry to the country. These ports include inspection stations at airports, land ports and entry through seaports, and people who want to get an entry into the country should be examined by the CBP.

Have patience while the CBP officials do their job, as do not get too riled, because these very officials check around millions of travellers every day and they are trained to treat every passenger cordially and with warmth. Their job is a challenging one, as it is their responsibility to and rogue elements, hence sometimes the experience might not be very pleasant. Maintain your calm and be supportive.

In order to ensure smooth passage, ensure that you have with you critical documents like your passport, immigration documents, the receipt of the SEVIS fee payment and name and contact information of officials of the school where you have been enrolled into.

The validity of the passport should be checked and it should be made sure that it is valid for up to six months after you have started your stay in the United States.

Your visa should be valid through the date of your planned admission to the United States.

You are still an alien in the United States, and hence you can be ‘deported’, if the authorities find out that you have violated any of the immigration laws, you will be expunged from the United States. This is ordered by an immigration judge without any punishment being mauled or carried out.

Also, mentioned in the rules (US federal regulations), it is mandatory for every educational institution to report the personal, academic and the F-1 student status information to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).


Going through the Form Filling process

People entering the boundaries of the United States, get a CBP Declaration Form (6059B) for customs declaration at the time of their admission. Declare all the purchased items either on the plane, or any item from a duty free shop. Also, declare all those items which you have brought in as a gift for someone you know. Additionally declare all types of food-items, alcoholic products, cash and other such items.

While filling in the CBP Declaration Form, be sure about the answers that you are filling in. If you face any doubts, make sure that you avail clarification from www.cbp.gov. If you do not wish to be unnecessarily haggled by immigration officers about your belonging, make a concerted effort to disclose as many items as possible.  Items that might violate the US trademark and copyright laws, like importing gold, pets, firearms, vehicles, etc., will have to face scrutiny under special rules.

People holding a non-immigrant visa will also have to complete a CBP Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Card Record. Currently a fee of US $6 is applicable for completing and validating an I-94 form at different points of entry. Now do not get too worked up, yes, there is another form but it is all part of the process. The form just seeks basic information like name, date of birth, passport information, the flight number, and residence details back home and where you will stay in the United States.

The form has two sections and both sections must be duly filled. The CBP inspector will complete all the relevant information during the time of inspection. The bottom section of Form I-94 is the record of your departure schedule, and will be documented in your passport once you are allowed admission into the United States.

For the students who love to pack their bags and explore place, there are few conditions that you need to register. As a student, you can go for a trip to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, and then when you return, you can hold onto your I-94, The SEVIS form I-20 and the DS-2019.