Entering the United States

Please review the following information to help prepare you for your arrival in the U.S. It is important to be familiar with the procedures you will go through after landing at the airport. If you are arriving before your campus housing is available, make sure you have arranged a place to stay beforehand. It is also important to plan ahead to attend International Student Orientation (ISO) and complete your OISA Check-in


When to Enter the U.S.

Per U.S. federal regulations, if you are coming to the U.S. in F-1 visa status with an I-20 that reads "Initial Attendance" for the "Form Issue Reason" on page 1, the earliest you may enter the country is 30 days before your program start date (also listed on page 1 of your Form I-20). 

If you are an F-1 international student who has already studied at an SEVP-certified school and are transferring your SEVIS record to Wesleyan, you may travel outside the U.S. and reenter more than 30 days before the program start date listed on page 1 of your Wesleyan I-20. 

What to Expect at the Airport

When you arrive at a U.S. airport, you will first go to immigration inspection. Explain that you are a student on an F-1 visa. Present the following documents to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer: 
  • Passport (valid 6 months into the future)
  • F-1 visa (valid at the time of your entry)
  • Form I-20 (issued to you by Wesleyan University)
  • SEVIS I-901 Fee receipt (physical copy you have printed)

We also recommend you have with you your letter of admission to Wesleyan and proof of funding for your program of study.   

Pack the immigration documents listed above in your carry-on bag because you will not pick up your luggage until after this process. Please note that if you are a student from Canada or Bermuda you will not have an F-1 visa. 

Upon entry into the United States, the CBP Officer will produce an electronic version of your I-94 admission record using your official passport and visa. You should access your I-94 record on the CBP’s website to ensure that you were admitted in the correct (F-1) status and for the correct period (typically, for the Duration of your Status or D/S). 

New border procedures require digital imaging of fingerprints, a photograph, and verification of your record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), the U.S. government student database.

If the immigration inspector cannot immediately find your record, he or she may ask you to go to a second station where the officer has a little more time to find your record. Do not panic – this does not mean there is a problem. If the officer still cannot access your records or needs other information, however, contact the Office of International Student Affairs at oisa@wesleyan.edu, or call the Public Safety Office at Wesleyan at (860-685-2345) and they will contact someone to help you.

Temporary Places to Stay

If you plan to arrive to the U.S. before your Wesleyan housing is available, you may wish to arrange for somewhere to stay temporarily before moving into your on-campus housing. Wesleyan’s Visitor’s Guide has information about lodging in the Middletown area as well as information about local restaurants, transportation and other Middletown attractions to help you to settle in.