Arrival in the United States

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If you have already obtained your U.S. student visa, congratulations! You have successfully accomplished an important step as you finalize your travel plans.

Be sure to have your I-20 form (for F-1 visas) or IAP-66 (for J-1 visas) with your passport when you go through your immigration inspection at the U.S. port of entry.

Remember that if you plan to attend Wheaton College, you must present a certificate of eligibility endorsed for study at Wheaton College. You cannot enter on anther school's certificate of eligibility, as that is considered to be a fraudulent entry by the U.S. Immigration Service.

DO NOT attempt to enter the United States on a visitor/tourist visa (B-2) unless it is designated "Prospective Student" by a consular officer. The U.S. Immigration Service rarely authorizes a change of status from B-2 to F-1. DO NOT attempt to enter the United States under the visa waiver program, available to citizens from nearly 30 countries throughout the world. The waiver program is designed for tourists only, and attending school under the waiver program is a clear violation of U.S. immigration law.

Expect to go through both U.S. Immigration and U.S. Customs at the U.S. port of entry. You may also be required to go through a pre-inspection procedure at certain airports abroad. At the immigration booth, present your passport, your I-20 or IAP-66, and your completed I-94 arrival/departure card (which was distributed on the airplane). In the vast majority of cases, there will be no difficulty. 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, usually with instructions to see your international student advisor. Examine your 1-94 card carefully as you leave the immigration booth. F-1 students and J-1 students should have their I-94s marked "D/S", which means Duration of Status, along with a stamp indicating the date you entered the U.S. If an expiration date is written on the I-94 instead of "D/S," and you are in F or J status, come to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services as soon as possible.

Anyone who is denied admission at a U.S. port of entry should be very cautious about arguing with the immigration official. You may risk being issued "expedited removal," which now entails a five year bar on admission to the U.S. If you are denied admission, first try to contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services for assistance, but also make it known to the immigration official that you are willing to withdraw your application for admission to the country rather than be subject to expedited removal.

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