Port of Entry | Customs

US customs documents

The earliest date that an F-1 or J-1 international student may enter the U.S. is up to 30 days before your program start date. Please review your I-20 (F-1 Students) or DS-2019 (J-1 Students) for your start date before making travel arrangements.

When entering the United states, all international visitors will be inspected by a United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. Upon arrival, personnel will direct you to the Customs area. Customs and Port of Entry mean the same thing. The CBP officer will conduct an immigration inspection and review your documents and forms.

You will need the following documents to enter the U.S. and show the CBP officer:

  1. Passport, valid at least six months or more after your expected date of entry to the U.S.

  2. Valid F-1 or J-1 Visa (Exception:  Canada & Bermuda)

    1. Check to see that your visa accurately reflects your visa classification.

    2. Check your visa expiration date.

    3. Note: Sometimes the U.S. embassy or consular officer may seal your documents in an envelope and attach it to your passport. You should not open this envelope. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at the U.S. port of entry will open the envelope.

  3. Form I-20 (F-1 Students) or DS-2019 (J-1 Students) from Miami University
  4. Evidence of financial support
  5. SEVIS Fee Receipt
  6. Admission letter from Miami University
  7. Contact Information
    • ISSS: 214 MacMillan Hall, Oxford, OH 45056; 513-529-8600; international@MiamiOH.edu
    • Miami University’s address: 501 E High Street, Oxford, OH 45056

When you travel, you should carry these documents with you. Do not leave them in your checked baggage. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will not be able to show the necessary documents to the CBP Officer and, as a result, may not be able to enter the United States.

ISSS also suggests that you make photocopies of all your documents - leave one copy at home and bring an extra copy with you as a precaution.

Entry Stamp

Upon arrival, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer stamps your passport with your admission date (date you enter the U.S.), class of admission (your visa status), and the date you are admitted until (expiration date). If you are an F-1 international student, your passport should be stamped with the visa status “F-1.” If you are a J-1 international student, your passport should be stamped with the visa status “J-1.” Both F-1 and J-1 students should receive the annotation “D/S.” This stands for “Duration of Status” and means that your visa status is valid for the duration of your studies, provided that you maintain your legal status.

Customs Declaration Form

If you are traveling by aircraft, flight attendants will distribute a Customs Declaration Form, before you arrive in the United States. Complete the form and prepare to submit to the appropriate CBP Officer upon your arrival. If you do not understand a form, ask the flight attendant for assistance.

Secondary Inspection Requirements

If your information cannot be automatically verified by the CBP officer 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 officers to conduct additional research in order to verify information. Verifications are done apart from the primary inspection lines so that an individual case will not cause delays for other arriving passengers.

In case your admission/participation needs to be verified, we strongly advise that you have readily available the phone number for our office. If you arrive during regular business hours, our office will be able to help you immediately. If you arrive during non-business hours, you may have to wait until the next business day for assistance.

Failure to provide proper documentation is cause to refuse the student or exchange visitor admission into the United States. In limited circumstances, if a student is mostly, but not fully in compliance, he/she may be issued a Form I-515A, Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor. This form authorizes temporary admission into the United States and requires the student to take immediate action to submit proper documentation. If you receive a Form I-515A, report to Miami's International Student and Scholars Services office as soon as possible!