Entering the US

US Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is committed to facilitating your stay in the US while you take advantage of the United States’ academic, educational, and cultural offerings. To enhance security, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has instituted some changes in U.S. entry and exit procedures. Careful planning and preparation by international scholars can ensure that any delay based on these procedures is minimal.  

Immigration Documents  

Immigration documents should never be packed in luggage that will be, or has the potential to be, checked by an airlines — be sure to keep your Form DS-2019, visa stamp and passport with you at all times.  

In addition, it is also strongly recommended that you hand-carry the following documents:  

  • Evidence of financial resources
  • Paper receipt of your SEVIS I-901 fee
  • Evidence of scholar status (letter from your supervisor, employment offer letter, etc.)
  • Phone number for the Office of International Services  

*The US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) reserves the right to deny entry to any person who does not have the correct documentation at a US port of entry. Failure to provide the documents listed above will result in secondary questioning. Secondary questioning can take up to four hours and could cause significant delays in your travel schedule. 

Entry Documents

(I-94 & Customs Declaration) 

Arriving by Air: Flight attendants will distribute customs declaration forms. When you arrive at the US port of entry (POE), you will be digitally assigned an I-94 admission number. 

Arrival Procedures

Proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers. Have the following documents readily available for presentation: 

  • Passport dated at least six months into the future
  • Visa stamp (in passport)
  • Form DS-2019
  • Customs declaration form 

All visitors entering the US must state their reason for entering the country. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important to tell the CBP officer that you will be a scholar. Be prepared to include the name and address of the institution you will be attending. 

Once your inspection is complete, the officer will stamp your passport and assign you an I-94 number. If you enter the US through a land border or are held for secondary screening, a paper I-94 card will be issued. If this occurs, please take great care not to lose the I-94 card. It is strongly recommended that you staple it into your passport. 

US-VISIT: All nonimmigrant visitors holding visas regardless of race, national origin or religion participate in the US-VISIT program, a comprehensive registration system tracking entries and exits into the US. 

National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS): Some individuals may be asked to provide additional information under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. A packet of information will be available at the port of entry explaining the registration steps. 

Check-in with Office of International Services: Once you arrive in the US, you are expected to report to the Office of International Services for check-in. This is mandatory. Failure to check in with the Office of International Services within 30 days of arrival will result in cancellation of your J-1 visa status. 

Quick Reference

Pamela Redmond
Immigration Specialist



M-F, 10 am - 5 pm
Office of International Services
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Medical Center Blvd.
Winston-Salem, NC 27407
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Last Updated: 08-10-2016
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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