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New US Immigration Entry procedures are effective immediately at all US Borders

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We recently received the email below from our International Students Office. I know pretty much the same email went out to students at other schools; this is effective immediately and should also affect new students who are beginning their education in the Fall (of course you don't need the documents proving current enrollment that are mentioned below, if you're entering for the first time!).


I don't think there is anything to worry about, but make travel plans accordingly: have any connections outside the US so you reach the US at your final destination, or leave enough time for a connection in the US. Remember that wherever you enter the US for the first time is where you have to go through immigration (also pick up and re-check your bags) and even without these new procedures it could take fairly long.




Dear International Students:    I have just confirmed with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that new interim border procedures forALL international students  entering the US have been put in place, effective immediately.  Immigration confirms that there is no timetable as to how long these interim procedures will last. . but my guess is that it will be at least through out the summer.  So if your  summer plans take you outside the US, you need to be prepared for extra long inspection and delays when you enter the US:

Any student entering the U.S. should be prepared to proceed to secondary inspection at a U.S. port of entry. Secondary inspection allows a Custom and Boarder Protection (CBP) officer to more carefully inspect your documents and search data bases that are not immediately available at the initial inspection line. 

This change is in direct response to the recent Boston Bombings. Until a system can be established to ensure the validity of an I-20/DS-2019 at the initial port of entry, secondary inspection will be required.

If you plan to re-enter the U.S. this summer, you should plan the following:
-Make sure that your US SEVIS address is current and accurate.
-Make sure that you have sufficient time between U.S. flights to accommodate a delay in secondary inspection.
-Carry evidence of your spring 2013 registration and, if possible, fall 2013 pre-registration.
-Carry all previously issued I-20s/DS20192 in addition to your current I20/DS2019 with a travel signature no older than one year.
-Carry a copy of your latest transcript with you.
You may not need all these documents, but my strong advise is that you be prepared in the event you are asked for any evidence which confirms your student status.  Secondary inspection also gives the CBP border official the opportunity to ask you many questions about your academic program and your personal plans. Be prepared to answer questions about your background, and your professional and personal plans. Remember that F-1 and J-1 immigration statuses are NON immigrant statuses.
In addition to the new documentation referenced above, you will need all the documents you have always needed to enter the US:
-valid passport
-valid F-1 or J-1 visa  ( F-2 or J-2 for your dependents)
- valid (unexpired ) I-20 (see Section #5) or DS-2019 (See Section # 3) which has been endorsed for travel by the ISO within the past year (from the date you plan to re-enter the US)
-updated evidence of funding for your program; in the event that you are asked about this.   (In secondary inspection, it is more likely that you will be asked about your funding.)
Please be prepared for long delays and try to maintain a flexible travel schedule.
One more reminder:  Never EVER work off campus without legal employment authorization.   If you have a CPT, OPT, or AT authorized on your immigration documents, you should be prepared to answer questions about it by border officials.
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  • 1 month later...

We got a similar email too, except it was less scary sounding. For example, it did not tell us to carry any documents in addition to what was required before (i.e. no transcripts or proof of registration). I just returned to the US after an international conference yesterday. I was expecting to get more questions and secondary screening but that did not happen.


I gave the agent my passport, boarding pass and DS-2019 and the agent just asked if this was my first entry on this status (it was my second). He also asked where I was going and whether or not I was a researcher. He also told me about the new electronic I-94 after I asked about how it works -- it's all electronically stored now and there is a website you can use to get your I-94 number in case you need it for e.g. the DMV. There was no additional questions at all -- even less questions than I usually get when crossing the border by car! 


It could just be the agent I got, or it could also be that they are reducing the extra security checks from last month. Or, maybe I didn't get asked all the proof of funding stuff since this wasn't my first entry. It would be interesting to hear from the reentry experience of others!

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Ugh, didn't see this until now. Will be returning to the states in the fall but I should have all the necessary documents (and more) with me. Hopefully there won't be any issues.

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