Arriving at the Port of Entry in the United States
Arriving in the United States is a very important step, for which you should prepare. If you have everything ready, it should be a very smooth experience. The following documents give a good outline of the arrival process and exceptions:
You will need several documents:
- Passport (valid for at least the next six months)
- The I-20 from Santa Ana College
- Proof that you paid the SEVIS I-901 fee
- Proof you have the financial ability to pay for your school costs plus living expenses (the amount shown on the I-20)
- An admissions letter from the school or other proof you are a student (just in case)
DO NOT travel to the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date on your I-20!
Present all these documents to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer who will decide whether you may enter the United States.
If the CBP officer admits you into the United States, that officer then will issue you an electronic I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record”, which you will complete and route to the United States. You can find your I-94 online. Form I-94 is the only document that establishes how long you may legally remain in the United States for your studies.
What is Secondary Inspection?
If the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry cannot initially verify your information, or if you do not have all of the required documentation, you may be directed to and conduct additional research in order to verify your 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 our college information with you.
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 without delay to submit the proper documentation required by the Form I-515A.
SAC-Tip: You should be completely aware of your intended major, and that you will take at least 12 units per semester.