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Arriving in the United States

The main airport in Chicago is O'Hare International Airport, one of the world's busiest! Chicago has a second airport, Midway International Airport.  Most international flights into Chicago arrive at O’Hare Airport. 

When your flight arrives at the international terminal, you should expect to spend at least two hours processing arrival through Port of Entry (POE), part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and retrieving your luggage.

If you are entering the United States at a different location than Chicago, please make sure to allow sufficient time for connecting flights.  You will go through the POE process at your first U.S. destination. 

CBP Port of Entry Inspection

You must have all the necessary documents with you (passport with F1/J1 visa, I-20/DS-2019, proof of finances) and that you hold them in a secure place. Do not put your documents in checked baggage! You will be expected to present them to the CBP officials upon your arrival. The immigration officer will look at your I-20/DS-2019 and stamp your passport.

After the CBP officer at POE inspects your documents your passport will be be stamped with your entry and status information.  It is very important that this entry is recorded correctly, and you may need to confirm with the CBP officer your entrance in F-1 or J-1 student status.

The entry stamp should indicate a written "F-1" or "J-1" depicting the recorded entry status.  The entry stamp should also note "D/S," which stands for "Duration of Status." Duration of Status (D/S) indicates you have been admitted to the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status for the duration of your academic program. If you are not provided a "D/S" on entry, ask the CBP officer for clarification.

You will also be photographed and fingerprinted as part of a registration procedure. This whole process should not take more than a few minutes.

You can obtain additional information, including videos of what to expect, on the CBP website by clicking here.

I-94 Record

Every I-94 record has an eleven-digit admission number. This number may be needed at the Department of Motor Vehicles and for employment purposes, but it is not a number that needs to be memorized. In fact, a new I-94 number will be given each time the student or scholar re-enters the U.S.

Every time you enter the U.S. you must print the I-94 from the CBP I-94 website.

Every I-94 record has an eleven-digit admission number. This number may be needed at the Department of Motor Vehicles and for employment purposes, but it is not a number that needs to be memorized. In fact, a new I-94 number will be given each time the student or scholar re-enters the U.S.

More Information

For more information on the I-94 automation process and passport admission stamps, please review the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Fact Sheet. Additionally, the U.S. Study in the States website has important arrival information and tips.