“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~Lao Tzu
Careful planning and preparation by exchange visitors can ensure that the delay in processing their visa application is minimal. If you are a non-immigrant exchange visitor, here are some things you should do:
- Before leaving your country, confirm that your passport and nonimmigrant visa are still valid for entry into the United States. The passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay.
- Check to see that your visa accurately reflects your correct visa classification (J-1).
- If the visa states the name of the institution you will attend or identifies the exchange program in which you are participating, verify that this information is accurate as well. If your review indicates any discrepancies or potential problems, visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain a new visa.
- Exchange visitors entering the United States for the first time under their respective nonimmigrant visa classification may only be admitted up to 30-days prior to the program start date.
- When you receive your U.S. nonimmigrant visa at the Embassy or Consulate in your country, the consular officer will seal your immigration documents in an envelope and attach it to your passport. You should not open this envelope! The Customs and Border Protection Officer at the U.S. port of-entry will open the envelope.
- When you travel, you should carry specific documents on your person. Do not check them in your baggage! If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will not be able to show the documents to the Customs and Border Protection Officer and, as a result, may not be able to enter the United States.
Documents You Should Carry on Your Person
- Passport (including attached envelope of immigration documents) with nonimmigrant visa;
- SEVIS Form I-20AB, I-20MN, or DS-2019;
- Visa exempt nationals presenting a SEVIS Form I-20AB, I-20MN or DS-2019 issued on or after September 1, 2004, who are entering the United States for the first time should have a Form I-797, Receipt Notice or Internet Receipt verifying SEVIS Fee payment. For additional SEVP/SEVIS Program Information, refer to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website at http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/index.htm
- Evidence of financial resources
In addition, it is recommended that you also carry the following documents:
- Western University of Health Sciences offer letter
- Name and contact information for Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Officer (RO) at your intended school or program;
- Writing instrument (pen).