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Travelling to US on F1 Student Visa – List of Documents to Carry

Raghuram Sukumar Travel

Now, your F-1 Visa is approved and you are ready to fly to the USA. What document should you take with you? Are there anything things to take care while you are here?

Question from Rajarshi

  1. For students from India, who will be pursuing higher education abroad (be it any country ), do you suggest that we travel with all our previous academic documents (school and bachelors degree mark sheets and certificates)?
  2. Will it be wise to do so so that they can be offered instantly if asked by any academic departments later on?
  3. Do the employers who come via career service (here again the discussion is not restricted to USA ) demand the student’s previous academic documents?
  4. There are many incidents of burglaries in student halls and one must decide before traveling whether he or she should leave the documents back home or not.

F1 Students: List of Documents for Travel

Let’s divide the documents into two categories

  • Travel Documents
  • Required Documents
  • Other Documents

Travel Documents

  • I-20
  • Passport
  • Admission Letter
  • Copy of your Flight ticket
  • Cash (Bills)

Above documents are required to board the flight, clear Immigration at the port of Entry and then Customs, then on to your final destination via domestic flight.

Don’t forget to carry cash with you in smaller bills in US Dollars. While exchanging your local currency, ask for smaller Dollar Bills (like $5, $20). If in case of emergency, you need them.

Other Documents

  • Academic Documents
    • Degree certificate
    • Course completion certificate
    • Provisional certificate
    • Original Mark sheets
  • I-20’s from other universities
  • Extra copies
    • Recommendation letter
    • University transcripts
  • Any other documents, like certifications, paper presentation reports, etc.

How to Take care of your documents

  • Carry all the documents in with you in the carry on baggage (the one you take with you)
  • Do NOT put these document in your big suitcase that is checked-in at the time of boarding
  • Leave copies of your documents at home (passport, USA Visa, I-20, transcripts, passport size photos)
  • Don’t laminate your I-20
  • Don’t pack the documents in the bigger suit case that you will check-in. If the checked-in bags is lost, you will lose the documents.
  • Leave a couple of signed papers (empty) with your parents, if in case they want your signature for Bank or other needs.

At some universities, you will be asked to show the original Mark Sheets after completing orientation.

Extra copies of Recommendation letters and transcripts (signed and sealed) will be required of you want to apply for a new set of schools to transfer.

It will be a huge hassle for you to get recommendation letters from India while you are in the USA. So, get few extra copies before you leave India.

Answers to Questions

1. For students from India, who will be pursuing higher education abroad (be it any country ), do you suggest that we travel with all our previous academic documents (school and bachelors degree mark sheets and certificates)?

Yes. USA is your new home. Take it with you. I have essentially digital copies of every document you can imagine in organized folders in the cloud.

2. Will it be wise to do so so that they can be offered instantly if asked by any academic departments later on?

I had to provide the original Degree Certificate and Transcripts after arriving in the University. The process varies. But, have it with you. They belong to you and you have to keep it safe.

3. Do the employers who come via career service (here again the discussion is not restricted to the USA ) demand the student’s previous academic documents?

Never in my career, I had to provide the originals to Employer. But, I had to give the photocopies for immigration and visa purpose. For Green Card process, formal transcript evaluation would be done by your attorney.

4. There are many incidents of burglaries in student halls and one must decide before traveling whether he or she should leave the documents back home or not.

I have seen students losing their passport. There was a birthday party on our campus and as any birthday party goes, it got out of hands. People started throwing some of the friends into the swimming pool. Guess what? One guy had his passport in his jeans!

I haven’t seen anyone till date, who lost their entire document set. It will safely stay in your apartment inside your suitcase in the closet.

See Also :   Flight Travel India to the USA: Documents, Tips and Caution