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.
Please find below 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:
Minor mistakes can cause major delays with some applications that must be filed upon arriving on campus, so please be careful while filling out the 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 clearly, honestly, and politely. If there is a problem, suggest that they contact Vaolele Stawiarski at email@example.com.
After clearing customs, students should proceed to the baggage claim area to collect their bags. If the bags are not on the carousel, or they are marked, students should 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. Students may be asked about the contents of the bags or asked to open the bags up. Students should follow instructions and answer questions honestly and politely.
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 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Fact Sheet.