Gather Pre-departure Materials and Important Documents
Before you leave your home country, take the time to double-check that you have gathered all the documents you will need for your travel and stay in the United States.
Passport and nonimmigrant visa: Hand-carry your passport and certificate of eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) with you at all times during your travel. On the plane before you land, you will complete the Arrival Departure Record (I-94 form) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will take your biometric fingerprints and photograph. Be sure to complete the I-94 form completely and accurately. Part of the I-94 will be stapled into your passport. Do not lose it! The stapled portion will be removed when you leave the United States.
Certificate of eligibility: Confirm you have the I-20 or DS-2019 issued by the school or program you will be attending.
Contact information: Have the name and phone number of your international student adviser on campus, in case you need to call him/her upon arrival in the United States.
Birth certificate and marriage certificate: If applicable, be sure to obtain notarized translations of these certificates if they are not in English.
Medical documents: Bring certificates of immunizations and vaccinations, prescriptions and medical and dental records.
Academic transcripts: Bring your official transcripts, outlines, or descriptions of courses you have taken, and contact information for your U.S. campus. College or university acceptance letter.
Make Travel Arrangements and Depart for the United States
Before you make travel arrangements, confirm with your international student adviser when you are expected to arrive on campus.
You should not make your travel reservations until you have received your U.S. visa. You are not allowed to enter the United States earlier than 30 days prior to the beginning date on your I-20 or DS-2019. Be sure you know how to get from the airport to your college or university.
Arrive On Campus: Once you arrive on campus, you should report to the office responsible for assisting international students. It is helpful to bring your passport and other immigration documents with you on your first visit.
Your international student adviser is your friend! Keep in close touch with this person during your university experience to help you with visa issues, adjustment to life in the United States, and anything else you may need.
Additionally, you will need to make plans to:
Obtain health insurance: This insurance provides coverage for medical care. The United States does not have a government medical plan of health care service that covers the whole population. Most people have private health insurance.
Attend on-campus orientation: All colleges and universities in the United States offer new student orientation programs that ease your transition to a new place.
Move into your housing: Most graduate students live off campus and it is important to find available options as early as possible. The housing office on campus can help answer your questions and provide resources for local housing options. Off-campus housing may require an extra financial commitment for fees such as a security deposit or electricity connections.