F-Nonimmigrants: Entry and Exit FAQ – Via Ice
SEVP made every effort to provide complete answers to these common
questions. However, each person’s individual circumstances differ. So
while these questions and answers serve as a general guide, they may
not provide all the information you need to determine whether it is
appropriate to travel or whether you will be readmitted to the United
States. You can contact your Designated School Official (DSO), your
embassy or consulate, or your legal counsel for further assistance.
Please remember that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
officer at the Port of Entry (POE) decides whether or not nonimmigrants
are admitted to the United States. This decision is based upon the
facts and circumstances presented at the time you apply to enter. SEVP
cannot guarantee that you will be admitted or readmitted to the United
1. Initial Entry For Students (F-1 Nonimmigrants)
4. Reentry for F-1 Students or Conducting Research Abroad
5. Initial Entry for Spouses and Minor Children of F-1 Students (F-2 Nonimmigrants)
Schools and Programs – Via ICE
Release 5.1 Training Slides
Technical Information For Users
Web-based Training Course for School Officials
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is pleased to launch
the web-based training course entitled “SEVIS Training for School
Officials. ” This training will provide instruction to you on your
responsibilities and those of the foreign students in meeting their
obligations in Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
. The course will assist newly Designated School Officials who need
additional guidance on completing various actions required to update
and maintain student information in SEVIS, it will also serve as a
useful resource tool for the veteran school officials. Enjoy the
Privacy Impact Assessment
The availability of information is made all the easier today due to
the Internet, technological changes in computers, digitized networks,
and the creation of new information products. The E-Government Act of
2002 recognized that these advances also have important ramifications
for the protection of personal information contained in government
records and systems. The Act mandates an assessment of the privacy
impact of any new or substantially revised Information Technology
System. The document that results from these mandated assessments is
called a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA).
In addition, the Privacy Act of 1974 requires Federal agencies to
explain in a system of records notice the types of personally
identifiable information that they will collect, use and maintain. A
system of records notice also informs the public of the reason for
collecting the information, how it will be safeguarded and how it will
be used for agency purposes.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program has recently published both
a Privacy Impact Assessment and a System of Records Notice for the
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and both are
now available for review on our website.
How To File The I-17 Peition To Be Approved To Enroll Nonimigrant Students (F Or M Visa) (PDF) 10/25/2005
Notice of the System of Records Notice (SORN) (PDF) 4/8/2005
How To Prepare For A Site Visit (PDF) 11/2/2005
SEVIS Reporting Requirements for Academic Institutions at the Start of Each Term or Session 06/16/05
School Recertification through December 2004 (PDF)
Documents Accepted In Lieu of Accreditation (PDF)
Social Security Procedures
Pursuing Employment In The United States (PDF)
New Procedure between the Social Security Administration (SSA), the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (PDF)
Memo on Pursuing Employment In The United States (PDF)
Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the basis for a substantial number of denials of nonimmigrant visa applications at the consular level. It reads;“Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he/she establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status…” In short, this section of the INA presumes every applicant for a visa to America intends to reside in America. It is the burden of each visa applicant to demonstrate that this is not the case – that they only intend to visit America for a short duration. In qualifying for a B (Visitor) F (Student) or J (Exchange Visitor) visa, an applicant must demonstrate compliance with this section of the law. (Note that these requirement do not apply to H or L Visa holders who can maintain ‘dual-intent’).
Consular officers have the last word in deciding who may enter the US. They begin by evaluating each applicant for a non-dual-intent visa (B, F, J among others) to determine whether the applicant has strong ties abroad. Some examples of ties can be a job, a house, a family, and a bank account. These ties bind an applicant to their home country and demonstrate that they will return after the trip to America. Despite the fact that consular officers attempt to provide a case-specific evaluation, they have limited time allotted to each client. It is imperative that the applicant have a well documented and organized petition which demonstrates the strength of the case by providing evidence of strong ties. Unfortunately, as you can imagine, these requirements are somewhat harder to prove for younger applicants, or for those applicants who have a Green Card pending (which manifests a future intent to abandon the home country and reside in the US).
The applicant should also document how they will support themselves financially for the visit and why they are visiting the United States. Temporary trips of a short duration, for a specified period of time – with clearly defined start and end dates (such as a marriage, education, graduation or a religious event) are more likely to be approved. Remember that an invitation letter and evidence of funds of the American ‘sponsor’ are of limited benefit to the applicant – the consular officer is mainly concerned with the qualifications of the applicant themselves.
An applicant who has been refused can attempt to enter the US again since a denial under section 214(b) is not permanent, however, the more times an individual is turned down the harder it becomes to become eligible for subsequent approvals. The consular officer will only reconsider a case if an applicant can show additional evidence of ties outside the United States. The applicant’s situation must have substantially changed since the last application. Demonstration of strong ties is still key.
Via ICE – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is committed to facilitating your stay in the United States while you take advantage of our nation’s academic, educational, and cultural offerings. To enhance security without slowing legitimate travel, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has instituted some changes in U.S. entry and exit procedures. Careful planning and preparation by international students can ensure that any delay based on these procedures is minimal.
PLAN YOUR ARRIVAL
You may be refused entry into the United States if you attempt to arrive more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your SEVIS I-20 form.
ALWAYS HAND-CARRY YOUR DOCUMENTS
Do not check the following documents in your baggage. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will be unable to present the documents at your port of entry. As a result, you may not be able to enter the United State
- Your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay;
- SEVIS Form I-20.
In addition, it is strongly recommended that you also hand carry the following documentation:
- Evidence of financial resources;
- Evidence of student status, such as recent tuition receipts and transcripts;
- Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee, Form I-797, and
- Name and contact information for your “Designated School Official”, including a 24-hour emergency contact number at the school.
For comprehensive information on procedures for traveling and arriving in the United States, visit: http://educationusa.state.gov/predeparture/travel/customs.htm
COMPLETE YOUR ENTRY PAPERWORK
If Arriving By Air: Flight attendants will distribute Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival Departure Record Forms (I-94). These must be completed prior to landing.
If Arriving By Land or Sea: The CBP Officer at the port of entry will provide the necessary Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival-Departure Record Forms (I-94) to be filled out upon your arrival.
AS YOU ARRIVE AT THE PORT OF ENTRY
Proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers. Have the following documents available for presentation: your passport; SEVIS Form (I-20); Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94); and Customs Declaration Form (CF-6059). The Form I-94 should reflect the address where you will reside, not the address of the school or program.
All visitors entering the United States must state their reason for wishing to enter the country. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the CBP Officer that you will be a student. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school program where you will enroll/participate.
Once your inspection is successfully completed, the inspecting officer will:
- Stamp your SEVIS Form for duration of status (“D/S”) for F visa holders
- Stamp your SEVIS Form for 30 days beyond program end date for M visa holders
- Stamp the Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94) and staple it in the passport
FOLLOWING ADMISSION INTO THE UNITED STATES
Students should report to their school within 30 days of the date that appears on the SEVIS I-20 form to register for courses or to validate their intended participation. Failure to do so may result in serious consequences.
SECONDARY INSPECTION REQUIREMENTS
If the CBP 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, we strongly recommend that you have the name and telephone number of the foreign student advisor at your school. In the event you arrive during non-business hours (evening, weekends, holidays), you should also have an emergency or non-business hour phone number available for this official.
Failure to comply with U.S. government entry-exit procedures may result in your being denied entry to the United States. Under certain circumstances, the CBP officer may issue a “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor” Form (I-515A), which authorizes temporary admission into the United States. Work with your school to submit the proper documentation without delay.
All nonimmigrant visitors holding visas — regardless of race, national origin, or religion — participate in the US-VISIT program, a comprehensive registration system tracking entries to and exits from the United States. For more information: www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/editorial/editorial_0440.xml
NATIONAL SECURITY ENTRY-EXIT REGISTRATION SYSTEM (NSEERS)
Some individuals may be asked to provide additional information under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). A packet of information will be available at the port of entry explaining the registration procedure. For more information: www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/editorial/editorial_0440.xml