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Admitted student next steps

Travel and arrival for new international students

Travel and arrival checklist

Arizona State University is committed to your safe and seamless transition from your home country to the U.S.

From staff at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport to stepping into your residence hall or off-campus apartment, ASU is here to welcome you every step of the way.

Pre-arrival checklist

Make travel arrangements

You are expected to arrive in the U.S. for International Welcome. You may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the start date listed on your SEVIS I-20 Form or DS-2019. If you are not able to arrive by the first day of classes due to travel or visa delays, you must contact Admission Services at Admission Services will provide you with further instructions.

Do not attempt to enter the U.S. after the school start date indicated on your I-20 or DS-2019, as you will be denied entry. See the academic calendar for important dates for the upcoming semester.

Entering the U.S. 

Most students will arrive in the U.S. at an airport other than Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX). If you will arrive at PHX on an international flight, please see the international information on the Sky Harbor website.

Regardless of your port of entry, or POE, at the first entry point into the U.S. as a legal nonimmigrant, you will be required to complete the items below. For more explanation of what to expect at a POE, visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs website.

Visa and I-20

Not applicable for Canadian citizens.

At your point of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will check your documents. This is where you will need to present your passport, visa and I-20 to the Customs and Border Protection officer.

The passport must be stamped by the port of entry official notating F-1 D/S or J-1 D/S (Duration of Status), date, and location of arrival in the U.S. If this is incomplete or the stamped date or visa classification is incorrect, please bring it to the attention of the port of entry official so they can make the correct annotation. Errors noticed after you leave the airport should be brought to the attention of the International Students and Scholars Center.

While a CBP officer inspects your immigration documents, you may be asked some general questions. Don’t get agitated or nervous; it’s just a routine procedure. Always answer clearly, honestly and politely. If there is a problem, suggest that they contact the International Students and Scholars Center at 480-727-4776. We are open during office hours, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You should have received an email with tips for navigating this process as you may be asked questions to verify information. You are allowed to ask the officer what the issue is - just do so respectfully.

Customs checkpoint

After checking your documents and clearing you to enter the U.S., you will proceed to the baggage claim area to collect your luggage. You will then need to enter a line with U.S. Customs (or Agricultural Department) officials where they may ask about the contents of your bags or ask to open them. Students should follow their instructions and answer their questions honestly and politely. Please bear in mind that the penalty for carrying contraband is very high and may result in deportation.

After you collect your luggage, you will go through the customs checkpoint. This is where you turn in the form you were given on the airplane. On this form, you must declare if you have funds exceeding $10,000 (in any currency) and any items that need to be declared. Please visit for detailed information on what you are allowed to bring and what items you need to declare.

List of documents for new students to travel with:

  • Valid passport (must be valid for at least six months past the date of intended arrival in the U.S.)
  • Valid I-20 (Initial or Transfer-Pending)
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa (Canadians are exempt)
  • ASU admission letter
  • Financial Guarantee documents
  • SEVIS I-901 fee payment receipt
  • ASU’s travel letter (Recommendations for travel in the U.S., proof of on-campus, in-person classes)

In addition to asking for these documents, the Customs and Border Protection officer may ask the following questions to determine several pieces of information:

  • The purpose of your visit to the United States
  • How long you plan to visit
  • Where you will be staying
  • If you have the means to support yourself financially in the United States
  • If the documents you are presenting are compatible with the purpose and intent of your visit

Airport transportation and connecting flights

Once you have cleared the customs checkpoint, you will exit into the international arrivals area of the airport. If you need to catch a connecting flight to get to PHX, you will need to take your bags with you to the proper terminal or check-in counter for your domestic flight. At many airports, you will need to take a free inter-terminal shuttle to get to the proper location. We highly recommend visiting the website of your international destination airport to become familiar with what you will need to do.

Additionally, each U.S. airline has separate policies regarding charges for checked luggage and weight requirements. We strongly recommend researching your airline’s domestic flight baggage policies so that you know if you will incur charges at check-in for your domestic flight. Finally, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has detailed information about what you can carry onto the flight and things to consider when traveling within the U.S.


Post-arrival checklist

Obtain I-94 form

An I-94 is a form denoting the arrival or departure record of particular foreigners (including students on an F-1 or J-1 visa) used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

All arrival and departure information will be gathered electronically by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, where visitors can print a paper copy of their I-94 record or verify immigration status or employment authorization, as well as record number and admission information. Prior to completing your SEVIS check-in, you will need to obtain a copy of your I-94.

Get a copy of your I-94

Complete your online SEVIS check-in

SEVIS check-in is a mandatory process per U.S. immigration policies. In order to stay in compliance, all international students are required to complete the online check-in, including:

  • The purpose of your visit to the United States
  • How long you plan to visit
  • If you have the means to support yourself financially in the United States
  • If the documents you are presenting are compatible with the purpose and intent of your visit

After you arrive in the U.S., you can use your smartphone or computer to complete the SEVIS check-in by following these three simple steps to report your arrival before the start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019:

  • Upload copies of your immigration documents by logging in to My ASU and clicking on Complete New Student Check-in under your Priority Tasks.
  • Update your local address and SEVIS address in My ASU.
    • Local address must be a residential address in the U.S. and must contain street number, street name, city, state and postal code.
    • SEVIS address must be a residential address in your home country.
    • PO boxes, company addresses or school addresses are not valid addresses.
  • Learn how to maintain your visa status.

During the International Student Arrival and Welcome, you will be guided through the process of SEVIS registration and receive important information about F-1/J-1 immigration compliance, enrollment and other essential matters to facilitate a smooth transition to the university and to successfully begin your ASU experience.

Please email if you have any questions.

Get your ASU ID card

You have the option to obtain the Sun Card or the Pitchfork Card when you arrive at ASU. The Sun Card is the official ASU student photo ID that allows you to complete in-person transactions and gain access to ASU Libraries and other services. The Pitchfork Card is two cards in one — an ASU student ID card and a MasterCard® check card.

Learn about the main differences between the Sun Card and the Pitchfork Card.

Learn more

Get your Sun Card or the Pitchfork Card as soon as you arrive at ASU. It is also highly recommended that you obtain an Arizona state ID card. If you want to drive in the U.S., you need to get an Arizona driver license (instead of an Arizona state ID card).

Set up a bank account

You can set-up a bank account with your student ID. Review the International Student Guide for advice on getting a bank account and other items to support your transition to the U.S. and ASU.

Review guide

Get a cell phone

Review the International Student Guide for advice on getting a cell phone.

Review guide

Attend the International Student Welcome event

Incoming international undergraduate students are required to attend International Welcome. You will learn important information about the university and how to prepare for a successful academic year. For specific information and to register, visit the International Welcome website.

Register now

Get involved at ASU

Explore ASU’s international student organizations, and meet other ASU international students when you arrive. ASU has more than 1,000 student clubs and organizations, giving you many opportunities to make connections and pursue activities that you are passionate about.

Get involved

Stay up to date with the ASU mobile app

Through the ASU Mobile app, you’ll have access to all things ASU. Events, maps, directories, Sun Devil Rewards, My ASU, athletics — you name it, it’s there.

Print enrollment

Along with printing and bringing all of your other important documents, remember to print your enrollment documents.