Arriving in the U.S., HIO Registration, & Orientations
Welcome to Harvard! This section details important information you need to know to enter the U.S. to start your academic program.
When to Arrive
The U.S. immigration regulations allow F-1 and J-1 students and their dependents to enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the program start date listed on page 1 of your Form I-20 or Item 3 of your Form DS-2019.
U.S. Immigration Inspection
Upon entering the U.S., all F-1 and J-1 students must present the following documents to the Customs and Border Protection official at the airport or U.S. Port of Entry:
- Valid passport
- Printed Form I-20 or Original Form DS-2019 (no photocopies)
- Valid F-1 or J-1 visa in passport (not applicable to Canadian citizens)
- I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt
F-2 and J-2 Dependents cannot enter the U.S. before the F-1 or J-1 Student.
You may not enter the U.S. in tourist visa status unless you are coming to the U.S. for tourism only. Individuals in tourist visa status are not permitted to study in U.S. educational institutions.
Do not use NEXUS or Global Entry, or an automated passport kiosk, to enter the U.S. You must always speak with a Customs and Border Protection Officer and present the above documents in order to be admitted to the U.S. in the proper student status.
Arriving in the U.S.
Each time you enter the U.S., the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) creates an on-line, electronic entry record to record your entry to the U.S. This is called your I-94 record. Note that many U.S. airports will no longer stamp your passport when you enter the U.S. Instead, the I-94 will be your only official record of entry to the U.S.
You should check and save a screenshot of your I-94 record each time you enter the U.S. as you may need it for other purposes. If the I-94 record ever displays incorrect information, or cannot be found, please contact your HIO Advisor.
You must register your arrival with the HIO within 30 days of the start date on your visa document (Form I-20 or DS-2019), otherwise your SEVIS record will become invalid.
After arriving in the U.S., you must complete the HIO Registration Form and send it via email to email@example.com to fulfill your required immigration registration. Please note, in order to complete this form, you will need to access your I-94 record online. If you have difficulty locating your I-94 record, or your I-94 record has incorrect information, please contact your HIO Advisor.
You will receive an email from the HIO confirming when your registration has been processed.
- You may request a travel signature via our online signature request form.
- You may also visit the HIO during our walk in travel signature and document pick up hour.
The HIO offers optional orientation sessions for all incoming students and their family members. Please see HIO Orientations for more information.