Entry to the U.S.

General Information for All Foreign Nationals

Below are lists of travel documents required for entry or re-entry to the U.S. Requirements vary according to visa type but all are meant to provide proof of identity and visa status.

  • Foreign nationals entering the U.S. for the first time will need to apply for an entry visa (stamp) at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy as described further below. Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are visa exempt.
  • Continuing students whose visa stamps have expired will need to apply for a new entry visa in order to return to the U.S. from abroad and should plan accordingly. There are certain exceptions to the visa requirement for travel to contiguous territories such as Canada and Mexico.
  • Some countries have an agreement with the United States that allows their citizens to enter on a current passport up to the actual date of expiration. However, it is best not to rely on this policy, because it is applied inconsistently by border officials.

Due to heightened security measures surrounding domestic travel (travel within the U.S.), you are strongly encouraged to carry your passport, status documentation (e.g. Form I-94 and Form I-20, Form I-797, etc.), and Immaculata IDs for all travel outside of the Philadelphia area.

All travel documents should be hand-carried so that they are easily accessible and available for inspection.

F-1 Students and Dependents

F-1 Students

  • Valid Form I-20 endorsed for re-entry by Immaculata’s Office of International Student Services (ISS) within the past year or within the past six months for students on post-completion OPT
  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp
  • Valid OPT card if on post-completion OPT
  • Evidence of employment if on post-completion OPT
  • Transcripts (strongly recommended)
  • Financial document(s) listed on Form I-20 (strongly recommended)

F-2 Dependents

  • Valid Form I-20 endorsed for re-entry by ISS within the past year
  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)
  • Valid F-2 visa stamp
  • If traveling alone, copies of the primary's (F-1) immigration documentation, including Form I-94. If the spouse/parent is on F-1 post-completion OPT, copies of primary's OPT I-20, Employment Authorization Document, and job offer letter or recent pay stub from the employer.

NOTE: Citizens of Canada are exempt from the visa stamp requirement. However, Canadian F-1 students must present the SEVIS fee payment receipt for their initial entries to the U.S.

H-1B or O-1 Employees (and Dependents)

H-1B or O-1 Employees

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)
  • Valid H-1B or O-1 visa stamp
  • Original valid Form I-797 H-1B or O-1 Notice of Approval
  • 2-3 most recent pay stubs or letter from supervisor confirming continued employment
  • Copy of I-129 petition

H-4 Dependents

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)
  • Valid H-4 visa stamp
  • Copy of primary's Form I-797 H-1B or O-1 Notice of Approval
  • Original Form I-797 H-4 if changed to or extended H-4 status in the United States

TN Employees & Dependents

TN Employees

  • Valid Canadian or Mexican passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)
  • Valid TN visa stamp if Mexican national
  • Job offer letter specifying the Trade NAFTA profession and duration of employment
  • Requisite educational or occupational credentials such as diploma, license, etc.

TD Dependents

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)
  • Valid TD visa stamp if non-Canadian dependent
  • Marriage or birth certificate showing relationship to TN primary
  • Copy of spouse/ parent's job offer letter specifying the Trade NAFTA profession and duration of employment
  • If traveling alone, copies of the primary's (TN) immigration documentation, including Form I-9

Admission to the U.S. - Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Admission to the United States is granted by the Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  You will receive Form 1-94 Arrival-Departure Record at or soon before reaching a U.S. Port of Entry (POE).

At the Port of Entry

  • The CBP officer will retain the arrival (top) portion of Form I-94 and you will keep the departure portion, a small white card with your name, date of birth, country of citizenship, admission number and appropriate notations.
  • The CBP officer will review your travel documents and make the appropriate determination of immigration status which is then noted on the Form 1-94 along with a stamp showing the date of entry to the U.S.
  • The officer should staple the Form I-94 to your passport. If the officer neglects to attach the card to the passport, it is strongly recommended that you do so, because Form I-94 is the only evidence of proper admission to the U.S.
  • It is also important to check that the Form I-94 is properly marked.

Form I-94 is turned in to CBP upon departure from the United States, except for short trips to Canada, Mexico, or Adjacent Islands. For individuals traveling by air, the forms are usually collected by airline officials.

US-VISIT is a tracking system in which all foreign nationals (with limited exceptions) are registered upon entering the United States. Photographs and fingerprint scans are taken, then this biometric data is matched and stored with the individual's passport information, immigration status, U.S. visa number, and other information. US-VISIT is currently in place at many airports and seaports across the United States. More information on US -VISIT can be found on the government website.

F Status Holders

  • F visa holders should have the notation D/S (Duration of Status) on the Form I-94, meaning that they can remain in the U.S. as long as they comply with the terms and conditions of their immigration statuses.
  • New F-1 students and their dependents may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the program start date indicated on Form 1-20.

H-1B, O-1, and TN Employees

  • H-1B and O-1 visa holders and their dependents, and TN workers and their dependents, will have specific departure dates written on their Forms I-94, usually corresponding to the employment end dates.
  • The CBP officer should also note the back of Form I-94 with the employer's name and/or position title for a TN employee.
  • H-1B/O-1/TN employees with more than one employer should have all employers noted on the back of Forms I-94.
  • New H-1B employees and their dependents may enter the U.S. no earlier than 10 days before the employment start date as indicated on Form I-797 Notice of Approval.

Travel to Canada, Mexico, and/or the Adjacent Islands (automatic visa revalidation)

Under certain circumstances, non-immigrants with expired entry visa stamps may reenter the U.S. after visits of 30 days or less to "contiguous territories" (Canada, Mexico, and, for those in F status, the adjacent islands except Cuba*) without having to obtain a new visa prior to reentry. This benefit is called "automatic revalidation of visa". You should carry:

  • a valid passport
  • a U.S. visa stamp (expired or not, current immigration status or not)
  • Form I-94.  It is important that the individual not surrender Form I-94 at departure (e.g. at the airline counter as leaving the U.S.)  Without the current I-94 card, you will need a valid new visa to return to the U.S.
  • Appropriate immigration document (Form I-20 for those in F status or Form I-797 Notice of Approval for those in H, O, or E status).

The automatic revalidation of visa benefit is not extended to:

  • non-immigrants from countries designated by the U.S. Department of State as state sponsors of terrorism;
  • individuals who have ever overstayed their visas; and
  • non-immigrants who are applying for a new entry visa while in a contiguous territory.
    • Those who choose to apply for a new visa in a contiguous territory or cannot use the automatic validation of visa benefit must receive the new visa before being granted permission to reenter the U.S.  If denied an entry visa, you will most likely have to return directly to your home country in order to obtain a new visa. Please click here for more information.
  • All students must carefully weigh the risks of security clearance delays and the possibility of not being able to return to United States before making arrangements to apply for a new visa in a contiguous territory.

NOTE: Individuals in H, O, and E visa status are eligible for automatic revalidation for travel to Canada and Mexico ONLY, not the adjacent islands.

* List of Adjacent Islands

Please note that entry visas to these countries may be required for certain foreign nationals. For travel to Canada, please see links below.

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