In this video, EducationUSA discusses the documents you need to get and carry when entering the United States.

Here are a few quick steps about securing the proper visa to study in the U.S.

  • Your institution must be in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS) administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which ensures national security. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) gives schools oversight to enroll F and M non-immigrant students.

  • The F visa refers to foreign students coming to the U.S. to pursue a full course of academic study in SEVP-approved schools. An F-2 non-immigrant is a foreign national who is married for the child of an F-1 student.

  • The M visa refers to non-immigrants pursuing a full course of study at an SEVP-approved vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution in the United States. (Other than in language training programs.) An M-2 non-immigrant is the spouse or qualifying child of an M-1 student.

  • You can only enter the U.S. 30 or fewer days before your program starts. Your start date is listed on your Form I-20.

  • In addition to the Form I-20, you will need:

    • A valid visa

    • A valid passport

    • Proof of enrollment

    • An acceptance letter

    • The name of your Designated School Official (DSO)

    • The DSO's contact information.

Don't pack these documents in your luggage. Keep them on your person as you are traveling so you can get to them more quickly and more easily.

Hope this helps you prepare for your entry to the U.S. and your new school. Safe journeys!


EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State network of over 400 international student advising centers in more than 170 countries. It promotes U.S. higher education to students worldwide by offering accurate, comprehensive and current information about studying at accredited post-secondary institutions in the United States, according to its website.

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