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Tips and Information: Traveling to the U.S.

 Below are some travel tips and iformation that you may find useful.

For security reasons, the airlines are asking people to arrive earlier than before; some security lines are moving quickly and some will move slowly, so if you miss a flight for some reason, don't panic. DO CALL the school and your pickup contact (if you have one) to let them know of the change of plan. The airlines will probably be able to put you on a later flight that same day.

If you have traveled at all in the past few years, you've probably already stood in security lines while your bags were x-rayed and you and your fellow passengers produced your identification papers numerous times, took cell phones and laptops out of their cases, emptied pockets of coins and keys, stripped off your shoes, belts and jewelry. And for some, the need to stand, arms and legs outstretched, while an electronic wand was waved around their body, possibly to determine what caused all that beeping when they stepped through the metal detector. Or everyone going through a Bio-scanning machine.  Remember: This is a good time to keep your sense of humor, but it is not a good time to make jokes. Comments about guns, bombs, box cutters, hijackings and anything else related to terrorist activities that have caused the deaths of thousands of innocent travelers will be taken seriously. At the very least, you will be detained not a good way to start your journey.

It is important to arrive early at your departure site 90 minutes to two hours is the general rule. Sometimes, longer for an international flight. International travelers usually go through three lines once at check-in, once for the examination of checked luggage, and once at the personal security check-through. Being late for your flight will not get you moved to the front of these security lines.

To make things move faster for yourself and for those waiting in line behind you, make use of the following tips:

-Read the permitted and prohibited items list: http://www.tsa.gov/ Some things that are not allowed in your carry-on baggage can be carried in your checked luggage.

-Keep your passport and boarding pass readily available. You will be asked for these documents more than once, so there is no point in putting them away until you are completely through security.

-How you dress for an international flight can make a difference in how quickly you can move through security. Since you will be asked to remove your shoes, we advise against intricate laces, long rows of clasps, buckles, or other fasteners that take time to get your footwear off and on because it will hold up the line. Smart travelers wear slip-on shoes, which are also convenient for getting comfortable on long international flights. Although you will not be asked to remove your clothes (other than coats, suit jackets, and blazers), clothing with metal buttons and buckles will definitely cause the beepers to go off and you will need to be "wanded" which, again, uses up time for everybody. Wear comfortable clothing with a minimum of metal fasteners. Keep in mind that you will have to remove much of your jewelry if it contains metal, and you will also have to empty your pockets of coins, keys, cell phones, and other bulky items. Even full packs of cigarettes can set off the beepers. It takes time to take things off and put them back on, to empty each of your pockets and fill them up again. Dress accordingly. If you have lots of pocket items, put them in a clear plastic bag so you can pull it out for inspection in one easy go and are not patting yourself down repeatedly while your fellow travelers are glancing at their watches. Even better, put the plastic bag in your carry-on luggage and retrieve it after clearing the inspection point.

-Pack your valuables and fragile items such as jewelry, cash, cameras, and laptop computers in carry-on baggage only. If you are traveling with a laptop computer, remember that you will have to remove it from its case and may need to turn it on for inspectors. You may be asked to do the same with other electronic devices.

-Put all undeveloped film in your carry-on baggage because the checked-baggage screening equipment could damage it. Don't hold things up by trying to locate and remove it from your suitcase while in an inspection line.

-Do not pack wrapped gifts and do not bring wrapped gifts to the security checkpoint. This will assuredly cause you to be pulled aside for further inspection. And use common sense: if you bought a friend or relative a great set of knives, pack them unwrapped in your checked, not your carry-on luggage. Items confiscated at security checkpoints are not returned, and you wouldn't want to disappoint your friends or relatives. If you wish to lock your baggage, use a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recognized lock. Go to www.tsa.gov for more information; otherwise you may find the fastener on your bag broken when you arrive at your destination. Checked luggage may randomly undergo additional inspections before being loaded onto the carrier. If your bag is chosen, it will be opened so it's best to allow unfettered access.

The Transportation Security Authority (TSA) has ruled that passengers are only allowed to bring liquids through the security checkpoint that fit in a 3 ounce or smaller container. These containers must fit in a quart size clear plastic bag. This is for all liquids and gels, including, beverages, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, hair gel, and other items of similar consistency. If you are going to transport these items in containers larger than 3 ounces, then you will need to place them in your checked luggage. Passengers may have baby formula, or juice if a baby or small child is traveling. Passengers may also have prescription medication labeled with a name which matches the name on the passenger's ticket, insulin, or other essential non-prescription medications. Items purchased passed the security checkpoints may be brought on board the aircraft.

For further information, please visit the Transportation Security Department at  www.tsa.gov. 

Please be careful at the airports. There are many pickpockets and thieves just waiting to steal your bags and wallets. We recommend that you keep your passport and visa documents on your person, not in a bag or wallet. Also, any large quantities of cash that you carry should be in a safe place on your person. (We have had people tape cash to their stomachs or sew it into their clothes.) Do be careful of anyone who is near you, because the pickpockets are very good at what they do. Also, it is important to know that you cannot bring into the US more than $10,000 cash without telling immigration. (We have had students whose money was taken from them at the boarder because they had more than $10,000.)  The safest thing to do is to have your tuition and fees wired directly to the school before you leave your country.

ARRIVING AT A U.S. PORT OF ENTRY: WHAT A STUDENT CAN EXPECT U.S.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is committed to facilitating your stay in the United States while you take advantage of our nation's academic, educational, and cultural offerings. To enhance security without slowing legitimate travel, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has instituted some changes in U.S. entry and exit procedures. Careful planning and preparation by international students can ensure that any delay based on these procedures is minimal.

PLAN YOUR ARRIVAL You may be refused entry into the United States if you attempt to arrive more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your SEVIS I-20 form.

ALWAYS HAND-CARRY YOUR DOCUMENTS Do not check the following documents in your baggage. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will be unable to present the documents at your port of entry. As a result, you may not be able to enter the United State 1. Your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay; 2. SEVIS Form I-20. 3. In addition, it is strongly recommended that you also hand carry the following documentation:    1. Evidence of financial resources;    2. Evidence of student status, such as recent tuition receipts and transcripts;    3. Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee, Form I-797, and    4. Name and contact information for your Designated School Official, including a 24-hour emergency contact number at the school. For comprehensive information on procedures for traveling and arriving in the United States, visit: http://educationusa.state.gov/predeparture/travel/customs.htm

COMPLETE YOUR ENTRY PAPERWORK If Arriving By Air: Flight attendants will distribute Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival Departure Record Forms (I-94). These must be completed prior to landing. Do NOT make any errors. It is very hard to change this after you have arrived. If Arriving By Land or Sea: The CBP Officer at the port of entry will provide the necessary Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival-Departure Record Forms (I-94) to be filled out upon your arrival.

AS YOU ARRIVE AT THE PORT OF ENTRY Proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers. Have the following documents available for presentation: your passport; SEVIS Form (I-20); Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94); and Customs Declaration Form (CF-6059). The Form I-94 should reflect the address where you will reside, not the address of the school or program. All visitors entering the United States must state their reason for wishing to enter the country. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the CBP Officer that you will be a student. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school program where you will enroll/participate. Once your inspection is successfully completed, the inspecting officer will: Stamp your SEVIS Form for duration of status (D/S) for F visa holders, Stamp your SEVIS Form for 30 days beyond program end date for M visa holders, Stamp the Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94) and staple it in the passport

FOLLOWING ADMISSION INTO THE UNITED STATES Students should report to their school within 30 days of the date that appears on the SEVIS I-20 form to register for courses or to validate their intended participation. Failure to do so may result in serious consequences.

SECONDARY INSPECTION REQUIREMENTS If the CBP officer at the port of entry cannot initially verify your information or you do not have all of the required documentation, you may be directed to an interview area known as secondary inspection. Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information without causing delays for other arriving passengers. The inspector will first attempt to verify your status by using the Student and Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS). In the event that the CBP Officer needs to verify information with your school or program, we strongly recommend that you have the name and telephone number of the foreign student advisor at your school. In the event you arrive during non-business hours (evening, weekends, holidays), you should also have an emergency or non-business hour phone number available for this official. Failure to comply with U.S. government entry-exit procedures may result in your being denied entry to the United States. Under certain circumstances, the CBP officer may issue a "Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor" Form (I-515A), which authorizes temporary admission into the United States. Work with your school to submit the proper documentation without delay. US-VISIT All nonimmigrant visitors holding visas -- regardless of race, national origin, or religion -- participate in the USVISIT program, a comprehensive registration system tracking entries to and exits from the United States. For more information: www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/editorial/editorial_0440.xml

NATIONAL SECURITY ENTRY-EXIT REGISTRATION SYSTEM (NSEERS) Some individuals may be asked to provide additional information under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). A packet of information will be available at the port of entry explaining the registration procedure. For more information: www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/editorial/editorial_0440.xml