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Traveling to the US first time; Connection flights


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1- as a student you are NOT immigrating. Be sure to not reply to any questions in a way to make them suspect otherwise. Have proof of ties to you home country and be confident when you say you want to go back.

airports have signs for connections so no need to stress over it (although do not try to be "smart" and stay cool. I could have gotten tased because I tried to bypass customs on a european flight.)

 

Right, it's just that most airports call the whole process "Immigration" and/or have signs that say "Immigration" as a shorthand for Customs, Border Control & Immigration etc. Definitely make it clear to the border agent that you are not immigrating and be sure to say that you are entering on an F-1 (or J-1) status and provide documentation. But for airport logistics, the signs might say Immigration for short.

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1- as a student you are NOT immigrating. Be sure to not reply to any questions in a way to make them suspect otherwise. Have proof of ties to you home country and be confident when you say you want to go back.

 

But didn't we just go through that check at the embassy/consulate? Am I supposed to carry financial documents (i.e. for ties)? This is a little new to me because I've never been asked questions like that at airport immigration; they'd just see if I have the visa and if the I'm right person or not.

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But didn't we just go through that check at the embassy/consulate? Am I supposed to carry financial documents (i.e. for ties)? This is a little new to me because I've never been asked questions like that at airport immigration; they'd just see if I have the visa and if the I'm right person or not.

 

The only "required" documents are your passport, your visa, and your valid* I-20 or DS-2019 as proof of status. However, admittance to the US (or most countries really) happen at the discretion of the border agent. The border agent can deny you entry if they have a reason to suspect your documents, so most of the advice is, when you are entering for the first time, to bring all of that with you. You would only have to go through this if they decide they want to see a lot more or if you get a secondary screening. 

 

(*valid I-20 or DS-2019 means you need to have an authorization signature on this form within the last year from your school if you are re-entering the US)

 

I have never had to show any additional documents besides my passport and DS-2019 (no visas for Canadians). After the Boston Marathon terrorist attack, it seemed like the border became a lot stricter for international students and my school notified us that we might be more likely to be selected for secondary screening. They also suggested that it would be a good idea, but not required, to carry a copy of a letter from the Registrar stating that we are a registered student. They did not recommend carrying additional documents though, especially if there is a risk you would lose them.

 

They have also informed us (in general, not just for the above incident) that if you are missing something that they want, it does not mean that you will be denied entry. For example, if you lost your I-20 or DS-2019 while traveling (or forgot to get an updated signature), they might still let you enter but require you to submit a copy to DHS within 30 days. So, this might happen if they wanted to see some of the non-"required" documents but you don't have them. (Of course, another alternative is that they simply deny you entry untii you can get the right paperwork).

 

Finally, for things like the financial documents, I would bring them with me for the first entry to the US. I don't know about you but I would want to keep those kind of documents with my current address, not in my home country. So, since I would be taking them with me when I first moved, I just made sure they were in my carry on bag instead of checked luggage so that I can get to them at customs. I don't bring extra documents other than for the first trip though.

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Guys, how to know if your luggage will be transferred?

I will be flying this way A(US city)-Chicago-Istanbul-B(Asian city).

Now, A-Chicago flight is provided by United, other flights-by Turkish Airlines,

but I made only 1 reservation on Turkish Airlines website, I mean I didn`t buy separate tickets, so it`s connection flight, the flight from A to Chicago is codeshare flight (or whatever it is called, I don`t know)

so I assume my luggage won`t be transferred from Chicago to Istanbul, so I have to do it myself, am I right? But it will be transferred from IST to B, right?

Edited by virtua
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I think you should just ask the airline(s).

 

Luckily, both my flights will be with the same company, so it seems the luggage will be transferred. But I am still not 100% sure I will make it on time for the second flight.

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It depends on your airlines and you will have to check with them. I have flown separate airlines with connections before and it was no problem (United and Air Canada) -- my luggage was always checked through to the final destination. Turkish Airlines is a Star Alliance airline (i.e. same group as United and Air Canada and many others), so I think you will be fine. Especially since you booked it all on the same ticket/reservation!

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Whenever you check in baggage, they always tell you till where it is checked in. That way you know where to manually re check in your baggage.

The baggage tag you receive on check in also has the airport code where you must pick up.

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For the tags that I remember getting, it will list all the airport codes that your bag will travel through. This should match your own itinerary! The final code listed is where you pick it up and it's usually formatted different from the others. If you are not sure, just confirm whether or not your bag will be "checked through to your final destination" as you give the airline agent your bag.

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Thank you, guys, for your replies! I called the airlines company-they confirmed that it will be transferred, but I asked here because I just wanted to know how I would observe it in the airport  :)

Edited by virtua
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1. Guys, I bought a ticket to JFK, what would you recommend me in order to get well-prepared for the immigration things? I mean, is it easy to know which route I should go in the airport or it would be better to study the map of JFK to be well-oriented?

2. Any review on JetBlue?

1. Be as fast as possible when you get off the airplane. Try to get to the immigration line as fast as possible. Your fellow plane members could add to up to an hour of lining up.

2. JetBlue is a fun little airline. No complaints. Again, domestic so you will not get free food. It is normal in the US to carry on board meals if you want to do so. You may have to pay for carry on although your transfer ticket may cover it.

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