How to Enter the U.S. In F-1 Status
What You Need to Know
We are looking forward to your arrival at SUNY Plattsburgh! If you follow the instructions outlined below, you should be able to enter the United States without difficulty.
IMPORTANT! DO NOT come earlier than 30 days before your program start date indicated on your Form I-20. You risk being denied entry or being admitted as another visa category (i.e. Visitor instead of a Student).
DO NOT come later than the program start date without our permission.
DO NOT pack your immigration documents in your suitcase.
Take our phone number in case of emergency: 1 (518) 564-3287.
All international students entering the U.S. by air or sea will no longer receive a paper I-94 card (the little white card in your passport). Instead, F-1 students will receive a stamp in their passport – this stamp will show the date of admission, class of admission (F-1), and date that the student is admitted to (“D/S”). International students entering the U.S. by land borders (Canada and Mexico) will be issued a paper copy I-94A with a stamp showing date of admission, class of admission (F-1), and date that the student is admitted to (“D/S”).
Have your documents ready to show a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer. You will be asked to show your passport, F-1 student visa, Form I-20, and financial documents when you are going through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Inspection.
Be prepared to explain why you are coming to the U.S. The CBP officer will ask a few questions about your purpose for coming to the U.S. Please be prepared to tell him or her why you are coming to study at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Check that the CBP officer properly stamped your documents before you leave the inspection area. Before you leave the inspection site when you enter the United States, please make sure that the stamp in your passport (F students arriving by air or sea) or I-94A (for F students arriving by Canada or Mexico) clearly reads: “F-1 D/S”. If your stamp or I-94A is missing any piece of this important handwritten notation, please walk back to the inspector at the port of entry and have them fix it immediately.
If you do not have your I-20 and you are issued an I-515A, please report to the Global Education Office as soon as possible so that we can work to fix your status. An I-515A only allows you to stay in the U.S. for 30 days.
You may be asked to go to secondary inspections. This is normal – do not worry.
Please report to the Global Education Office as soon as you arrive on campus. Please bring the following documents with you for our inspection and duplication:
- Passport (s) with your current F-1 Student Visa
- Original SUNY Plattsburgh Form I-20
- Original Forms I-20 from any other U.S. schools that you have attended
- Your original I-94 stamp or I-94A Card
We look forward to seeing you soon! Please contact us if you have questions!
If you have any questions about international education, admission, or financial aid at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:
Global Education Office
State University of New York at Plattsburgh
Kehoe Administration Building, Room 210
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, New York 12901 USA