What Happens Right After Flight Lands in USA (Port of Entry)

Raghuram Sukumar Travel 15 Comments

I have written few articles on this same topic about what to expect at Port of Entry in America.

  1. Steps: From Port of Entry to Connecting Flight in USA

Here is a quick overview of what happens right after you land in US Airport at Port of Entry.

Port of Entry Steps in USA

  • You will be given I-94 and Customs form to fill while in flight to USA. ( I-94 is now electronic )
  • Your Flight will land in the International Terminal
  • Take your cabin items and belongings from the flight.
  • Wait in Queue for your turn.
  • Step 1 – Clear Immigration Check
    • Have the Forms (Hand over the I-20, Customs Form and Passport)
    • CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officer at Port of Entry will ask you few questions
    • He will stamp, I-20 and stamp your customs form, take photo and finger print.
  • Collect your Checked-In Bags (you may have to get  a baggage cart)
  • Clear Customs (they might ask if you have any food items)
  • Give the customs form and they will let you go to next destination.
  • If Port of Entry is your final destination, then walk out and wait for pickup help.
  • If you have connecting flight, check in you bags again to the next flight. ( in the same terminal as you walk out)
  • Go to domestic terminal to board your next flight. ( could take 10 to 30 minutes of walk or air train or shuttle)
  • You may have to go through security check again to enter domestic terminal.

Question about Port of Entry

I got my visa for  Troy university, Alabama. I’ve planned to visit my sister’s place (San Jose,California) stay there for few days and then report back to Troy university, Alabama. In my case I would be landing in San Francisco, will that be a problem or do I have to report to the college then fly to CA.

Yes. Port of entry can be different.

You will not have any problems flying to SFO.

Many students flying to USA will have different port of entry from where university is located.

If asked, you can say that you plan to stay with your family for few days before reporting to the school.

Next : Watch this video about Port of Entry Procedures : Port of Entry Procedures (Video)


  1. Hi, HSB
    Can you please recommend me some Revised GRE mock tests available online or any other good resource.

  2. I need to add that my test date is approaching and mock tests or materials recommended by you would if of immense help

  3. Is two and a half hours adequate enough fro POE procedures and checking in to domestic flight?

  4. hi, I have adoubt. I am going to Kansas state university.I have relatives in Virginia ……….so i a m planning to take a flight to Virginia thru Chicago(POE)…Is there any problem in that……….In the I 94 we havreto mention where we are going rite??

  5. Hi
    iam traveling on f1 visa there is a local address colum in i94 what should i fill in there if i did not find any housing until i REACH THERE

    1. Author

      You can give Internatinal office address or friends address.

  6. hello there,
    I have a question. My class starts from august 24 and i have ticket for july 24 and i will reached there in july 25 .. will there be a problem in port of entry.. ? I found that we can enter 30 days prior to class start day?
    Is my arrival date is 30 days before?
    please comment here, I have fixed my ticket already. I am worry about this ?

    1. Author

      Make sure you are going to enter here on July 25th or later. Looks like if you subtract 30 days from Aug 24th, is July 25th. So, you should be fine.

  7. Hi Raghuram..I got visa for xyz univ for this spring 2016 intake and booked flight tickets too..my university is located in Texas but i’m flying to Seattle 1st on january 6th spend 4 days with my childhood friend(NOT RELATED TO FAMILY) who is currently working over there, do some shopping and fly back to my university on january 11th. So will there be any problem at port of entry for not travelling to my univ located place directly?? Will this invite any unwanted trouble ? Please help me to decide whether i should go on or cancel my ticket and book direct ticket to my univ located place?? Thanks in advance.

    1. Author

      Did you buy the ticket from Seattle to Texas? If so, take the printout of the ticket with you.

      1. Thanks for the reply..Yes I bought the ticket from Seattle to Texas..so no need to worry if I take printout??

  8. Useful commentary ! I loved the details , Does anyone know if I could get a fillable CBP I-94 document to fill out ?

  9. I have only one way ticket to the USA (landing in LA) and I am visiting my host family. I am exactly sure how long I will be staying with them therefore I didnt get my return ticket back to my country . Will it create a problem at Port Entry?
    another question: My final destination is NY and I am landing in LA and planning to spend some ticket with old friends in LA. I didnt buy connecting flight from LA to NY, can it also create a problem as I showed (I94 form) my final destination is NY
    thank you

  10. am travelling to michigan but want to check on a cousin in new york before going to michigan.is it advisable to enter thru new york or i go directly to michigan first?

Leave a Comment - Your Thoughts Counts