Arriving in the United States

The idea of traveling across the globe to study in the U.S. can be bother exciting and frightening. The information provided below will make this journey easier to navigate. 

Please note: You may be refused entry into the U.S. if you arrive more than 30 days before the Program Start Date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 form.

Initial Arrival into the U.S.

Procedures for anyone arriving in the U.S. from a foreign country are controlled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Also, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers helpful information for international students preparing to travel to the U.S.

The first airport or border crossing that you arrive to in the U.S. is referred to as your "Port-of-Entry." Upon arrival in the U.S., you will need to "clear" CBP.  Entrance into the U.S. is not guaranteed even if you have a valid F1 or J1 visa.CBP officers have the authority to grant or deny your admission into the U.S. You will have a face-to-face meeting with a CPB officer so you should be able to state the reason you are requesting to enter the U.S.

Be prepared to tell the CBP inspector that you are a student, studying at Winthrop University, located in Rock Hill, South Carolina.Be prepared to show the following required documents (do NOT pack these in your checked luggage):

  • Valid passport containing your valid F1 or J1 visa;
  • Form I-20 (F1) or DS-2019 (J1);

The CBP officer may want to see:

  • The I-797, Receipt Notice for your I-901 SEVIS fee payment;
  • Financial documentation to compare it with the amount shown on the I-20;

After granting you entrance into the U.S., the CBP officer will place a date stamp inside your passport to indicate the date you arrived in the U.S and allow you to exit the airport. Please note: as long as you maintain legal F1 or J1 visa status, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. to study. 

Important Travel Notice

Before leaving for the U.S., make photocopies of all-important documentation for your records (passport, F1/J1 visa, I-20/DS-2019, etc.) and keep them in a safe place!  Make sure to give a photocopy of your documents to a family member and keep another set of the photocopies in your baggage.While you are traveling keep your passport and important papers on your person at all times. Students have had baggage lost or stolen and their important documents disappeared with their baggage. Once you arrive for Orientation, the International Center will make photocopies of all your documents to keep in your student file in our office.  

Please contact the International Center with any questions you may have concerning traveling to the U.S.