Most students will arrive in the U.S. at an airport other than Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX). If you will arrive at PHX on an international flight, please see the information video on the Sky Harbor website.
Regardless of your Port of Entry (POE), the first entry point into the U.S. as a legal non-immigrant, you will be required to complete the items below. For more explanation of what to expect at a POE, visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs website.
I-94 Admission Record
- An I-94 is a form denoting the arrival-departure record of particular foreigners (including students on an F-1 and J-1 visa) used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
- All arrival and departure information will be gathered electronically at a custom-made website, where visitors can print a paper copy and/or verify immigration status or employment authorization as well as record number and admission information.
Customs at the Port of Entry
Upon arrival in the U.S., you will be asked to present your passport and I-20/DS-2019 to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.
The passport must be stamped by the port of entry official notating F-1 D/S or J-1 D/S (Duration of Status), date and location of arrival in the U.S. If this is incomplete or the stamped date/visa classification is incorrect, please bring it to the attention of the port-of-entry official so they can make the correct annotation.
While a CBP officer inspects your immigration documents, you may be asked some general questions. Don't get agitated or nervous; it's just a routine procedure. Always answer clearly, honestly and politely. If there is a problem, suggest that they contact the International Students and Scholars Center at 480-727-4776. We are open during office hours, Mon.-Fri., from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.
International Baggage Claim and Transfers
After checking your documents and clearing you to enter the U.S., you will proceed to the baggage claim area to collect your luggage. You will then need to enter a line with U.S. Customs (or Agricultural Dept.) officials where they may ask about the contents of the bags or ask to open them up. Students should follow their instructions and answer their questions honestly and politely. Please bear in mind that the penalty for carrying contraband is very high and may result in deportation.
Once you have completed this step, you will exit into the international arrivals area of the airport. If you need to catch a connecting flight (to get to PHX), you will need to take your bags with you to the proper terminal/check-in counter for your domestic flight. At many airports, you will need to take a free "inter-terminal shuttle" to get to the proper location. We highly recommend visiting the website of your international destination airport to become familiar with what you will need to do. Additionally, each U.S. airline has separate policies regarding charges for checked luggage and weight requirements. We strongly recommend researching your airline's domestic flight baggage policies so that you know if you will incur charges at check-in for your domestic flight. Finally, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has very detailed information about what you can carry-on and things to consider when traveling within the U.S.