When preparing for your initial entry to the United States for study at FIT, keep in mind that you may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the PROGRAM START DATE indicated in the PROGRAM OF STUDY section of your I-20, nor after that date.
Make sure to put in your carry-on the original 3 pages of your I-20, a valid F-1 visa,
a passport valid for at least the next six months, a copy of financial documents showing
adequate funds to study at FIT, and a copy of your letter of admission to FIT. It
is also a good idea to carry a copy of your SEVIS fee receipt. Canadians exempt from
visa requirements must also be prepared to show proof of payment of the SEVIS fee
(see Obtaining an F-1 Visa for more information).
Pay attention at the airport or any U.S. port of entry!
Status will be granted at the port of entry by the receiving Immigration inspector, who will stamp your passport and handwrite "F-1 D/S" on it. The inspector will also provide you with a sheet directing you to the I-94 retrieval website, where, after entering your arrival information, you will be able to print out your I-94 number. Once you have reached your destination, it is strongly recommended that you print out and save this information to verify you have been admitted to the U.S. in the correct status. Please note: those entering at land ports of entry will have their passports stamped, marked "F-1 D/S," and issued the paper I-94, a small white card usually stapled into your passport. Keep in mind that you will have to correct any errors made by Immigration in the entry procedure, so it is important that you pay attention.
Once you have reached your destination, make copies of these documents and keep them in a safe place. If originals are misplaced, it is often easier to get them replaced with copies.
Reentering the U.S.
Reentering the U.S. with your FIT I-20 and valid F-1 visa* is very similar to your initial F-1 entry, except you must have page 2 of your I-20 signed by the International Student Advisor before you depart the U.S. While the I-20 indicates that the International Student Advisor's signature is valid for one year, it is recommended that you have your I-20 signed each semester. To ease your re-entry, be sure to have a valid F-1 visa, a passport valid for at least the next six months, a copy of financial documents showing adequate funds to study at FIT, an unofficial transcript of courses already completed, copies of all old I-20s, and a printout of pre-registration for next semester (if unavailable, take a copy of your current schedule). You can print out your unofficial transcript and schedules from the Online Information System accessible through MyFIT.
Students traveling while on post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) should take a current, signed 1-20 showing employer information on page 2, OPT card, valid F-1 visa, and a valid passport. See F-1 Employment Options for more information on OPT and travel.
Keep in mind whenever you reenter the U.S., you should receive a new stamp and handwritten "F-1 D/S" recording the entry in your passport. Soon after you reach your destination, visit the I-94 retrieval website to verify that you have been admitted to the U.S. in the correct status. Always print out and save a copy of your most recent I-94 entry information, so that you can demonstrate your status in the U.S. at any time.
* If your visa expires before you plan to return to the U.S., you will have to renew it. See Obtaining an F-1 Visa for further instructions. Canadians are exempt from the F-1 visa requirement.