Crossing the Border

Once you have obtained your visa (if required), you will use it with your I-20/DS-2019 and passport to enter the United States. You will also need proof of payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee. You may need to show proof of funding as well, so it is a good idea to bring copies of your financial documents with you. Be sure that you do not pack your passport, SEVIS I-20/DS-2019, SEVIS Fee receipt, or proof of funding in your checked baggage. These documents should be hand carried. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will be unable to present the documents at your port of entry. As a result, you may not be able to enter.

**Note Be advised that you may be refused entry into the United States if you attempt to arrive more than 30 days (F-1 students) or 15 days (J-1 students) prior to the program start date listed on your SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 form. If you wish to enter the country 30 days or 15 days prior, respectively, you will need to do so as a tourist. However, before you begin your studies, you will need to leave the United States and reenter in F-1/J-1 status. 

Once You Are In the United States

I-94 Admission Number

It is important to safeguard all your immigration documents at all times, especially your I-20/DS-2019 and your passport as these documents are what demonstrate your lawful entry into the United States and eligibility to study in the United States for the duration of your status as a F-1/J-1 student.

After you have entered the United States, ​you must log on to Please follow the instructions below to retrieve the number as soon as possible from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  You may need this entry information when you  apply for a Social Security Number, a Driver's License, bank account, OPT Application, etc.   

To find your Admission Number, please enter the information as it appears on the travel documents - passport, visa and I-20/DS-2019 

  1. Family Name - Enter your family name as it appears in the Family Name or Surname field on your passport/I-20 or DS-2019.
  2. First (Given) Name - Enter your first (given) name as it appears in the First or Given Name field on your passport/I-20/DS-2019. Do not include middle names, nicknames, or titles.
  3. Birth Date - Enter the date of your birth in the DD/MM/YYYY format (e.g., March 4, 1960 is 04/03/1960).
  4. Passport Number - Enter your passport number as it appears on your passport biographic page. The passport number may contain numbers and/or letters. Please closely distinguish between the two. Some commonly confused characters are the number zero (0) and letter 'O' and the number one (1), and the letter 'I'.
  5. Country of Issuance - The passport country of issuance is your country of citizenship as it appears on your passport. The country of citizenship on your passport is the passport issuing authority, regardless of the country the passport was physically obtained in.
  6. Most Recent Date of Entry - The most recent date of entry refers to the most recent date you entered the United States. This date can be found on the admission stamp located on your passport.
  7. Class of Admission -Your class of admission can be found on the admission stamp in your passport. Class of Admission is typically two to three characters, which may contain numbers or letters (F-1 or J-1).

Report to The Chicago School

Check in with The Chicago School within 10 days of your arrival. Be sure to bring all your immigration documents with you at that time so the Designated School Official (DSO) can make copies of all your documents and properly register you in SEVIS as required by immigration regulations. 

Lastly, you are required to attend International Student Orientation. ​Important information will be covered on how to maintain your immigration status while in the United States. The legal responsibility to adhere to all United States immigration regulations falls upon your shoulders; consequently, it is important you do not miss International Student Orientation!

If you have any questions about your immigration status or the information outlined in this document, please contact your Designated School Official

Helpful Links:
How To Navigate the US Immigration System

Contact Us

Office of Global Engagement
​(800) 595-6938​​, Option 6