What to Expect at Port of Entry in USA for F1 and H1B Visa?

Traveling to USA for the first time will be overwhelming and you will be anxious.

This article will guide what to expect in port of entry in USA  for F1 and H1B visa holders.

Watch the following video to learn about what to expect during your Port of Entry

Typically after your flight lands, you will

  • clear immigration
  • collect your bags
  • clear customs check
  • Walk out of the airport ( if port of entry is final destination)
  • Go to next  terminal/gate for connecting flight
    • you have to check-in the bags again

Immigration Check

Have the following document ready for immigration check

  • Passport
  • I-20 for F1 students
  • I-797 approval for H1B
  • I94 is now electronic
  • Customs Declaration Form

Make sure you know where you are going. You are *required* to provide an address in USA.

If your apartment is not fixed, then you can provide your Graduate School or International School office address.

Update Based on Comment Below

After landing in Port of Entry (if final destination is different from your port of entry)

  • you will clear the immigration
  • get a baggage cart (free or $5 per cart)
  • then collect the bags ( all 3)
  • walk through customs ( hand over the stamped customs form to CBP officer)
  • find  Check-in counter to check the bags for domestic flight
  • Your connecting flight check-in should be located right after you  come through the customs. If you can’t find the  counter, speak-up and ask for help.

You may have to go to another terminal to get to domestic connecting flight.

For instance in New York, international flight will come to a terminal. Then you  clear immigration, pick-up your bags. Clear customs. Exit the ares, check-in the bags for domestic flight.

Then you will have to go to another terminal. Then clear security check, go to the gate to board the next flight.

It can take upto 2 hours sometimes to clear the immigration and customs.

Next –  15 last minute tips for flight travel to USA