Arriving in the US
How soon can I enter the U.S.?
You cannot enter the country more than 30 days prior to the start date on you I-20 or DS-2019.
What documents will I need to present?
Please be sure to have the following items in your carry on luggage. You will need to present them when you enter the US
- Passport with F-1 or J-1 visa
- Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 (Do not open the envelope if the immigration officer at the embassy or consulate put this in a sealed envelope. The officer at the airport will open it.
- Payment receipt for SEVIS Fee
- Evidence of financial support
- I-94 card given to you on the airplane or with your boarding pass
- Name and contact information of Designated School Official or Responsible Officer at USM: Kimberly Sinclair, Interim Director, International Programs, 207-780-4959
Completing the I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Form
If you are traveling by plane, the flight attendants on board will distribute I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Form, before you land at the airport. Complete the form accurately. Make sure your name, date of birth, citizenship matches exactly as it is written in your passport. If you do not understand a form, ask the flight attendant for assistance.
Inside the Terminal
Once inside the terminal proceed to the immigration booth, and present your passport, your USM I-20 or DS-2019, and your completed I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Form. Expect to have your index fingers scanned for fingerprint purposes and a digital photograph taken, as required by regulations. Once the inspection is complete, the officer will:
- Stamp your USM I-20 or DS-2019 for duration of status (“D/S”) and the date you entered the U.S.
- Stamp your I-94 card for duration of status (D/S”) and the date you entered the U.S., and staple it in the passport. Be sure the I-94 card has the appropriate visa status (F-1 or J-1).
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-515, with instructions to see your international student advisor. If you receive this form, come to the International Services office upon your arrival.
Secondary Inspection Requirements
If the Customs Border Patrol officer at the port of entry cannot initially verify your information or you do not have all of the required documentation, you may be directed to an interview area known as “secondary inspection.” Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information without causing delays for other arriving passengers.
The inspector will first attempt to verify your status by using the Student and Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS). In the event that the CBP Officer needs to verify information with your school or program, provide them the name of the Interim Director of International Services, Mrs. Kimberly Sinclair, 207-780-4959. In the event you arrive during non-business hours (evening, weekends, holidays), you can call campus police at 207-780-5211 and they will contact Mrs. Sinclair on your behalf
Citizens of Canada
Citizens of Canada are not required to obtain a U.S. visa to enter the United States. The following documents should be presented to either the customs officer at the border or to an officer at the airport:
- Valid Passport
- University of Southern Maine Admission Letter (sent to you by either undergraduate admission or graduate school)
- University of Southern Maine I-20 or DS-2019
- Payment receipt of SEVIS Fee
- Proof of financial support
Note: Permanent residents of Canada are required to obtain a visa from the U.S. embassy or consulate before entering the U.S.