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What F-1 Students Need to Know About Entering the U.S.

Know before you go! Here are some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to review to help make sure you have an easy arrival to SUNY Plattsburgh.

We are looking forward to your arrival at SUNY Plattsburgh! If you follow the instructions outlined below, you should be able to enter the United States without difficulty.


  1. IMPORTANT! DO NOT arrive earlier than 30 days before your program start date indicated on your Form I-20. You risk being denied entry or being admitted as another visa category (i.e. Visitor instead of a Student).
  2. DO NOT arrive later than the program start date without our permission.
  3. DO NOT pack your immigration documents in your suitcase.


  1. Take the Global Education Office (GEO) phone number in case of emergency: 1-518-564-3287.
  2. Have your documents ready to show a United States Customs and Border Protection Officer (CBP). You will be asked to show your passport, F-1 student visa, Form I-20, and financial documents when you are going through United States CBP Inspection.
  3. Be prepared to explain why you are coming to the United States. The CBP officer will ask a few questions about your purpose for coming to the United States. Please be prepared to tell him or her why you are coming to study at SUNY Plattsburgh.
  4. Check that the CBP officer properly stamped your documents before you leave the inspection area. Before you leave the inspection site when you enter the United States, please make sure that the stamp in your passport (F students arriving by air or sea) or I-94A (for F students arriving by Canada or Mexico) clearly reads: “F-1 D/S”. If your stamp or I-94A is missing any piece of this important handwritten notation, please walk back to the inspector at the port of entry and have them fix it immediately.
  5. If you do not have your I-20 and you are issued an I-515A, please report to the Global Education Office as soon as possible so that we can work to fix your status. An I-515A only allows you to stay in the U.S. for 30 days.
  6. You may be asked to go to secondary inspections. This is normal — do not worry.
  7. Check in and report to the Global Education Office as soon as you arrive on campus. Please bring the following documents with you for our inspection and duplication:
  • Passport(s) with your current F-1 Student Visa
  • Original SUNY Plattsburgh Form I-20
  • Original Forms I-20 from any other U.S. schools that you have attended
  • Your original I-94 stamp or I-94A Card

Additional Notes:

All international students entering the United States by air or sea will no longer receive a paper I-94 card (the little white card in your passport). Instead, F-1 students will receive a stamp in their passport. This stamp will show the date of admission, class of admission (F-1), and date that the student is admitted to (“D/S”). International students entering the U.S. by land borders (Canada and Mexico) will be issued a paper copy I-94A with a stamp showing date of admission, class of admission (F-1), and date that the student is admitted to (“D/S”).

We look forward to seeing you soon! Please contact us if you have questions!

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