In order to enter the United States you are required to have a visa, issued by a United States Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Visitors to the United States who do not intend to become citizens or permanent residents, need to receive a “nonimmigrant visa.” The United States government issues many different types of non immigrant visas, and the type of visa issued indicates the privileges and responsibilities you have as a visitor to this country. For example, if you are planning to come to the United States as a student you will get F-1/M-1/J-1 visa.
Each visa type carries with it very specific privileges, requirements, and obligations. The United States government expects you to assume full responsibility for knowing the regulations which go along with your specific visa, and maintaining your good standing in this country by living within those regulations. You can get a good idea of these requirements by reading the information at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/study-exchange.html. You should also know any special requirements of your sponsoring institution or organization.
Your visa is an important document which may allow you to enter and leave the United States as well as to perform all of the activities and functions which bring you to the country in the first place. Please make sure that you know all of the regulations concerning your visa and any important dates relating to it (for example whether or not it expires and what you need to do if that expiry date is approaching.)
We look forward to welcoming you as a visitor in the United States.
Traveling to a foreign country means you have to be equipped with money and be safe about it. Here are some suggestions to help you. For information on current exchange rates, visit at www.xe.com.
Traveler’s checks are a safe way to carry large amounts of money. Traveler’s checks may be exchanged for cash at any bank and are accepted by many stores. However, it is advisable that you purchase them in U.S. currency. Most banks outside major cities are unable to exchange foreign currency upon demand. You may have to wait as long as five business days in order to complete the exchange. If your traveler’s checks are in U.S. dollars, your money will be immediately available to you. During your first week in the United States, you may wish to have approximately $200 in the form of traveler’s checks to cover any immediate personal expenses.
U.S. Currency and Cash
You should carry a some amount of U.S. currency with you when you travel to the United States. As long as you do not intend to take a taxi from the airport to your institution/place of stay, $500 is a reasonable amount to carry. This should be carried in small denominations such as $20, $10, $5, and $1, as well as some change in the form of coins.
As you may know, Americans like to use credit cards, and therefore they are widely accepted at stores and restaurants in the United States. If you wish to have one, you may find it more convenient to apply for a credit card in your home country. Some of the more popular and most widely accepted credit cards are Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover Card.
Note: Although it is convenient, it is not necessary to have a credit card to function in the United States. Although many international students have them, there are many who do not.
ATM cards are also useful, and you may be able to access funding from your home bank from your host institution’s city or town if you have an ATM card. Most bank accounts in the United States include the issuing of an ATM card, so you can expect to have one if you open a bank account here.
Personal Checks and Currency Not in U.S. Cash
Both of these forms of money will be accepted by U.S. banks, however, your money will not be immediately available to you. Usually, it is necessary to have an account with the bank that accepts these funds. If you open a bank account here, you will be able to deposit checks and currency from your home country, but you must wait a few days to withdraw these funds. Only major banks can exchange foreign currency in the same day.
What to Bring:
Going to school in New York means you have a lot to take care of! Use this list to help start your planning. We look forward to greeting you in New York State!
- You will need a passport with visa, extra passport size photos
- Arrange air transportation.
- Make arrangements with a responsible person and forward your mail to them while you are in the United States, if necessary.
- You will need your I-20 form with you, I-94 card will be issued at the port of entry (airport/sea port/ road)
- Your admission letter, US currency or travelers checks
- Be familiar with the health insurance information provided by your institution.
Before You Travel:
- Make two sets of copies of important documents (i.e. passport, visas, insurance card). Leave one set of copies with a trusted person and bring an extra copy with you. If possible scan and save in your email/cloud.
- Fill any necessary prescriptions.
- Reconfirm flight with airline at least 48 hours in advance and check baggage weight limits.
- Agree upon communication schedule with family, especially for arrival.
- Be sure to inform the International Student Services Office at the institution you will be attending of your travel plans, and make arrangements for transportation from the airport to campus/place of stay.
Documents and Legal Items:
- Passport, Visa, Supporting financial documents, Airline tickets
- Bank / Credit card and Insurance information
- Photocopies of important documents (passport, visa, insurance card, etc.) and Extra passport-sized photos
- Phone card / SIM card for international phone
- Emergency contact information (In USA and Home country)
- Contact information of person you are meeting in the airport
- Luggage lock and tags
- Your I-20 form and I-94 card ( you will get at port of entry in USA)
- Your admission letter
- US currency or travelers checks
- Clothing for all four seasons (shorts, short-sleeve shirts to pant, boots, and sweaters, clothes that can layer easily). Jacket, umbrella and Comfortable shoes
- Bath towel and shower shoes
- Batteries, Camera, Toiletries, Anti-bacterial hand lotions
- Eye glasses, sunglasses, contact lenses and cleaning solution, and eye bring prescriptions
- First aid kit (including: motion sickness medications, laxatives, anti-diarrhea medicine, antacids, pain relievers, decongestants, antiseptics, and bandages)
- Prescription medicines and written prescriptions
- Laptop and Backpack
At the Airport:
- On the plane, you will complete the Form 1-94 Arrival/Departure Record.
- At port of entry, present your passport with visa, I-94, and sealed envelope to INS inspector.
- Present your I-20 and original financial documents, which should be sealed in an envelope marked “For presentation at port-of-entry.”
- Once you reach New York, call the contact person (ISS Officer) at the institution you will be attending to notify them of your arrival and start making your way to campus to place of stay.