Travel to the US: U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

This web page covers important information about arrival procedures (entry paperwork, port of entry, secondary inspection, etc).


Complete Entry Paperwork

In order to streamline passenger processing, U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has automated its arrival and departure process and eliminating the paper Form I-94 for air and sea travelers. You will be able to obtain your admission number and electronic I-94 record through the website Different versions of Form I-94 might still be issued by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies. If you are traveling by air, flight attendants should hand you a U.S. Customs Declaration Form (CF-6059). If you are arriving by land or sea, the immigration officer will provide you with the CF-6059 at the port of entry.

Port of Entry

Proceed to the Custom and Borders Inspection site near the terminal area. Be prepared to present your passport, I-20, and the CF-6059. 

You will have to state your reason for entering the United States. You should tell the Customs and Borders Protection (CBP) officer that you will be a student. Be prepared to provide university address and additional information such as financial documents or your admission letter. Do not leave without getting your passport stamped, “F/1 D/S”

Secondary Inspection

If the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer cannot verify your information or if you do not have all of the required documentation, you may be directed to what is known as secondary inspection. The CBP officer will first try to check your status by using SEVIS. If the CBP officer needs to verify information with your school or program, please call (703) 993-2970.

If you fail to provide required documentation, the CBP official may give you a form I-515A which authorizes temporary admission into the United States. If you receive an I-515A, come directly to OIPS and speak with an advisor.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

In this video, you will learn about U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  Upon arrival, you will follow the sign "Non-US citizens." Please note that students in F-1 status do NOT qualify for the Global Entry program or the Automated Passport Control (APC).   Make sure you complete a U.S. Customs Declaration form while you are in the plane.  You will need to present this form, together with your passport and your I-20 or DS-2019 upon arrival in the US.  Watch the video to learn more.

Marie’s Travel to the US Experience

In this video, Marie talks about her travel to the US experience.  Marie flew direct from Paris to Washington Dulles International Airport.

Useful links:

Dulles International Arrivals (includes map of terminals)
Sample Customs Declaration Form
Prohibited and restricted items
Money and Other Monetary Instruments

Sudhamini’s Travel the US Experience

In this video, Sudhamini talks about her travel to the US experience, including her interaction with the CPB officer and tips on how to label your bags. Sudhamini's itinerary was as follows: Hyderabad - Mumbai - London - Philadelphia - Washington DC.

Useful links:

A Day at Customs
Tipping in America

Hamza’s Travel to the US Experience

In this video, Hamza talks about her travel to the US experience. Hamza first came to the US to participate in a summer research program at Mason. He later returned to pursue a graduate degree.

Useful links:

Preclearance locations.  There are 15 air Preclearance locations in 6 countries: Dublin and Shannon in Ireland; Aruba; Freeport and Nassau in The Bahamas; Bermuda; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Winnipeg in Canada.