50 Acacia Avenue
San Rafael, CA 94901-2298
The majority of new Dominican international students arrive at the San Francisco Airport (SFO), which is located an hour away from the campus. As a result, for most students SFO will be their Port of Entry (POE), the first entry point into the United States as a legal non-immigrant.
Here is a guide on procedures that need to be followed while on the aircraft, the customs at the POE, and at baggage claim. Prior to landing, the flight attendant will distribute customs declaration forms and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) forms. The most important form is the I-94 arrival/departure document.
Important reminders when filling out I-94 document:
Upon arrival, students will present their passport, visa, I-20 form, and I-94 document. The top of the I-94 document is the arrival record and a Customs and Border Protection officer will collect this. The bottom portion is a departure record, which must be returned upon exiting the United States. Detailed instructions about the I-94 card can be found on the back of the card itself.
The I-94 is an important document that is the official record of admission and permission to remain in the United States. The officer will stamp it and staple it to the passport. Please don't attempt to remove it.
After reviewing the documents and updating the student’s SEVIS record with the entry information, the port of entry official will stamp the student’s I-20 form and I-94 card and return them.
The I-20 form and the I-94 card must be stamped by the port of entry official noting the F-1 D/S (Duration of Status), date and location of arrival in the U.S. If this is not completed, please bring it to the attention of the port of entry official so that it can be stamped with this annotation.
While the CBP officer is inspecting the immigration documents, students may be asked some general questions. If this happens to you, don't get agitated or nervous, it's just a routine procedure. Always answer any questions clearly, honestly, and politely. If there is a problem, you may suggest they contact Vaolele Stawiarski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After clearing customs, you may proceed to the baggage claim area to collect your bags. If the bags are not on the carousel, or they are marked, inform the airline service kiosk in the baggage claim area.
It may be necessary to meet with a U.S. Customs Official (or the Agricultural Department) if you bags are marked. You may be asked about the contents of the bags or asked to open the bags up. Please follow U.S. Customs Official's instructions.
Please bear in mind that the penalty for carrying contraband is very high and may result in deportation.
For more information on what to expect at a U.S. Port of Entry, please see this U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Fact Sheet.