Entering the US
1. Plan to enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days prior to the start of classes
“Initial entry” students are only approved entry to the United States 30 days before the start date on their I-20. This start date correlates with the first day of classes for the term and can be located in section 5 of the I-20. Please ensure your arrival is not more than 30 days prior to the indicated date. For SEVIS transfer-in students, you may reenter the US at any time if you have the transfer I-20.
2. Coordinate your travel arrangements and secure housing in the San Jose area
Once you have obtained your F-1 visa, make the appropriate travel arrangements. When planning your travel, take note that there are three airports which provide access to the Bay Area. Mineta San Jose Airport (SJC) is located closest to SJSU.
- San Francisco International (SFO, 40 miles/64 km.)
- Mineta San Jose (SJC, 6 miles/9.6 km.)
- Oakland International (OAK, 35 miles/56 km.)
Prior to arrival you should have a plan for how to travel from the airport to your accommodations. Various options for ground transportation include airport shuttles, taxis, ride shares, trains, light rail and buses. Be aware that public transport from SFO or OAK to San Jose requires multiple transfers. Super Shuttle, an airport shuttle service offers SJSU students a 10% discount if booked online with the code SJSU4.
If you taking public transportation, your options include Caltrains, BART, VTA Lightrail and buses. Here are some websites taht are helpful when planning transportation:
- From SFO: https://www.flysfo.com/to-from/ground-transportation
- Anywhere in the Bay Area: https://511.org/
3. Coordinate Housing Arrangements
Securing housing in the San Jose area can be challenging. SJSU Freshmen are required to stay in university housing for their first year. The following provides additional resources when looking for alternative housing. Students may also contact the Housing Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with housing.
Please expect this process to be a lengthy experience and prepare in advance. You must keep the following documents in your carry-on luggage so you are able to present them to a CBP officer:
- Passport, valid for at least 6 months after the date of entry
- F-1/J-1 visa stamp, valid at the time of entry*
- Valid Form I-20/Form DS-2019
- Proof of financial support and resources reflected on Form I-20/Form DS-2019 – See more details
- Tuition and/or Housing receipt(s), if you have already made payments prior to your arrival
- SEVIS fee receipt
*Canadian citizens are not required to apply for a visa to enter the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1, but must still pay the SEVIS Fee and present their Form I-20 or DS-2019 at the U.S. port of entry.
During the immigration inspection, CBP officers may ask you questions similar to those asked at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate during your visa interview.
It is your responsibility to prove your intent to enter the U.S. as a non-immigrant in F-1 or J-1 student status. Remember that the primary purpose of the student visa program is to pursue and complete a degree through full-time study.
If you have attended another school within the U.S., your Form I-20 may have the remark “Transfer Pending From” with the name of your past school listed in section 3. If the Customs Officer requests more details regarding this portion, politely inform them that SJSU will complete the transfer upon your arrival to our campus. You can learn more about entering the US at the Department of Homeland Security’s Study in the States website.
Temporary Admission or Form I-515(A)
If you forget an immigration document, the immigration officer may issue you a Form I-515 (A), which grants you temporary admission to the U.S. for 30 days. If this occurs, please visit the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) office during normal business hours as soon as possible after your arrival so we can assist you with resolving this issue. Please bring all of your immigration documents, including the form I-515 (A) issued at the port of entry.