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Arriving in the U.S.

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a port of entry to request permission to enter the U.S. for a specific activity, it does not guarantee entry. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official at the port of entry has the authority to permit or deny entry to the United States and to determine length of stay based on the documentation presented.

International students seeking F-1 or J-1 student status may only request entry to the U.S. within 30 days of the program start date indicated on the I-20 or DS-2019.

Port of Entry Documentation Requirements

Foreign citizens seeking entry to the U.S. should be prepared to present documentation of their identity, purpose for traveling to the U.S., and ability to financially support themselves in the United States. Be sure to pack port-of-entry documentation in your carry-on luggage !

  • Valid passport
  • Valid U.S. visa ( exceptions )
  • Original I-20 or DS-2019 issued for your current SBU program
  • SEVIS fee receipt
  • Financial support documentation (e.g., bank statement, affidavit of support, scholarship letter required for I-20 or DS-2019 issuance)
  • VIS' phone number (631-632-4685)

Additional documentation may be required—e.g., admission letter/ exchange program acceptance letter; previous I-20/ DS-2019 and transcript (transfer student); etc.


Port of Entry Procedure

The CBP official will review your documents and may ask you questions about the purpose of your travel to the United States. The CBP official will determine if you are admissible and, if so, will provide you with an admission stamp.

Your admission stamp should indicate your visa status (F1 or J1); expiration date of your status in the U.S. (D/S), and the date and port of entry.

CBP will create an electronic I-94 record of your arrival or, if you are entering at a land border, issue a paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.

Please access your electronic I-94 two days after entering the U.S. to confirm your entry was recorded properly .

Additional U.S. Entry Resources


Arriving On-Campus

International Student Orientation is for all incoming international students in F-1 or J-1 status, including freshman, graduate, professional, transfer, and exchange students. This orientation is designed to help you learn about and understand important immigration regulations and procedures required of F-1 and J-1 students and to assist you in adjusting to Stony Brook University.

Upon arrival to the U.S. you are required to complete the Immigration Intake in accessVIS , and attend a mandatory Intake Check-In session.  Please visit the Immigration Intake & Check-In page for the  Check-In Schedule .

Undergraduate students are required to attend the in-person VIS Presentation during orientation week. Visit the Student Orientation and Family Programs website for information.

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