Documents to Have On Arrival in the U.S.
Upon arrival, you will go through immigration inspection, where your electronic I-94 entry record will be created. Be sure to have your passport, immigration document, and the rest of the recommended items below with you. Do not pack them in your checked luggage.
We want you to have all the documents that you may need in entering the U.S. When you arrive at the U.S. port of entry or preclearance, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will mainly ask to see the first three documents below, but they may ask to see other documents on this list. The officer may also ask you to answer additional questions about what you intend to do at Yale or your purpose of travel to the U.S.
- Valid Passport*: must be valid at least 6 months into the future at the time of admission.
- Valid U.S. Visa** (Canadian citizens do not need a visa)
- Your Immigration Document: an I-20 for F-1 status or a DS-2019 for J-1 status.
F-1 students must print (double-sided) the electronically sent I-20s. At the border, you cannot present your electronic I-20 on your phone.
- Printed I-901 Fee Receipt (a.k.a. Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee receipt)
- Copy of your admissions letter and proof of funds: while you may not be asked for it, it is advisable for new students to carry these documents as well. Proof of funds can include the same documents you submitted to obtain your I-20 or DS-2019, such as bank statements and scholarship/financial aid letters.
* All international scholars and family members planning to depart from the U.S. and return after a temporary absence must have a valid passport in order to exit the U.S. The passport must also be valid for a minimum of six months into the future at the time of re-entry to the U.S. Some countries have an agreement with the U.S. that automatically extends passport validity for 6 months, for U.S. entry purposes only.
**U.S. visas cannot be obtained or renewed inside the U.S.
What to Expect at the U.S. Port of Entry
Your visa and other immigration documents are evidence of your eligibility to apply for admission in a particular visa status at a U.S. Port of Entry.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and is the government agency that controls admission to the United States. The CBP officer makes the final decision on your admission to the U.S. in a particular status and determines how long you may stay based on your documents.
The officer will review your documents and ask you a few questions about the purpose of your travel to the U.S.
If all is in order, the officer will admit you to the U.S. and will stamp your passport with:
- date and place of arrival
- immigration status
- expiration of your stay in status
CBP announced the elimination of issuing entry stamps for visitors arriving in the U.S. Instead, each time you enter the U.S. an electronic entry record, called I-94 record, is created. After your entry to the U.S. please look up your I-94 record as soon as possible to make sure it is accurate. Print or save a copy on your device.
Most Yale students and scholars will clear U.S. immigration after your documents are reviewed by a CBP officer. However, a few of you may be referred to another officer to verify your immigration status or for additional questioning. This is referred to as “secondary inspection”. Although a referral to secondary inspection can be intimidating and make you feel anxious, there is usually little cause for alarm. Be aware that it can take a while to complete this inspection process.
If the CBP officer has questions that can be answered by OISS, please ask the officer if they would like to call OISS for confirmation. During office hours, you can call your adviser directly or our front desk at (203) 432-2305. After hours please call the Yale Police Department at (203) 432-4400 who will immediately call the OISS director or associate director.