ENTERING THE UNITED STATES

Enter U.S. within 30 days before program starting date on I-20 or DS-2019

DO NOT attempt to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program starting date on your I-20 or DS-2019! Although you may apply for an F-1 visa up to 120 days prior to the I-20 start date and you may apply for a J-1 visa at any time after receiving the DS-2019, F-1 and J-1 visa holders are NOT permitted to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019. Also, entry to the U.S. after the first day of classes requires permission from University officials and may require issuance of a new I-20 or DS-2019 form.

Enter U.S. on F1 or J1 visa only

DO NOT enter the United States on B-1/B-2 visitor visa or F-2 dependent visa even if you have one in your passport. You will not be allowed to attend school on B-1/B-2 or F-2 visa in the U.S. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would deny your application to change status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 or J-1 if you have evidence of intending to go school prior to your arrival, such as having applied for school or requested a Form I-20 or DS-2019.

Use Rutgers I-20 or DS-2019 when entering the U.S.

DO NOT enter the United States with an I-20 or DS-2019 issued by another school! If it is the first time you attend school in the U.S., your F-1 or J-1 visa stamp should bear Rutgers name. If you have already obtained a visa with another school’s name listed on it, please contact OISS by email at oiss@andromeda.rutgers.edu or by phone at (973)353-1427.

Procedures at the Port of Entry

At the port of entry, you will go through immigration and customs inspection by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. Your photo and finger prints will be taken. You will need to present your passport and original Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. After stamping your passport, the CBP Officer will return your passport and I-20 or DS-2019 to you.

Check Your Documents After the Immigration Officer Gives Them to You

U.S. CBP Officers handle thousands of passengers every day and, like all of us, they occasionally make human errors. We strongly recommend that you check your documents before leaving the inspecting officer’s desk to ensure they have been processed correctly. Errors made at this point will cause complications at a later date if you apply for a U.S. Social Security Number or a New Jersey Driver’s License. You should make sure that:

  • You have obtained a stamp on your passport marked “F-1/DS” or “J-1/DS” with the entry date.
  • Your original I-20 or DS-2019 has been returned to you.

Secondary Inspection 
 
If the CBP officer at the port of entry cannot verify your information, or if you do not have all of the required documentation, the CBP officer may direct you to an interview area known as “secondary inspection.” Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information without causing delays for other arriving passengers.
 
The inspector will first attempt to verify your status by using SEVIS. In the event that the CBP officer needs to verify information with Rutgers, we strongly recommend you present the cover letter from OISS sent to you with your I-20/DS-2019 that has all detailed contact information. If you will arrive during non-business hours (evening, weekends, holidays), you may call the campus Department of Public Safety at (973) 353-5111/5581/5582.