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Where can I enter on my F1 Visa?


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My classes aren't due to start until August 23rd (orientation) and I'll be in Boston. However, I'd like to fly into LA to meet my girlfriend before driving across to Boston to get her car etc. out there and enjoy the road trip! We would take about a week as her job will be starting. My question is this:

Can I arrive in LA on my F1 Visa if I'm going to school on the opposite coast? Will customs/immigration be funny about it?

Do I have to show evidence of a return flight to the UK say, for Christmas, even though I'm taking part in a 5-year course?


Any help would be hugely appreciated.

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Usual disclaimer: I'm not an expert, just another foreign student sharing their experience.

1. You do not have to enter the US where you are going to school. When you enter, they will likely ask you where you are staying that night and what is your ultimate destination in the US. These are normal questions, just answer truthfully. Give the address of where you are staying that night and say that you will be heading to Boston for school. Just tell the truth and there won't be any problems. Whether you get asked for details just depends on the mood of the officer. Sometimes I get asked detailed questions about my field of study, other times I get nothing more than a "Thank you, welcome to the United States."

Also, it's very normal for foreign students to enter the US not where they start school. For example, I entered from Canada and Canadian airports have US preclearance, so my original port of entry was a Canadian city. Many other students that come from Asia, for example, will connect in Los Angeles and since you have to cross the border/enter on F-1 at the first US airport, they will enter at Los Angeles and then make their way to the other coast (or elsewhere). 

2. No, if you are staying for a long time, you don't need to have booked a return flight. If you are planning to return for Christmas and you already have a flight booked, then bring the confirmation since it doesn't hurt to have it. But I and many other students on long programs enter the US regularly with no return flight. In fact, my status will expire on June 30 (I am graduating) and for my last entry to the US (late April), they did not require a return flight booked. 

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