Customs and Immigration

Your literal journey to becoming an international student in the USA is almost over and your metaphorical one can almost begin. But before you get excited, you have to stand in long lines and prove that you’re allowed to be here by going through passport control and customs.

When you land in the USA, after you deplane you will go through passport control, then pick up your luggage, and then go through customs. If you have a layover with a domestic flight within the USA afterwards, you will first go through these steps, check in your luggage again with your airline, and then proceed to the gate for your next flight.

Agents both at passport control and at customs may ask you questions about why you are entering the USA, how long you’ll be here, and what you’ve brought with you. If your responses are unclear, there’s a problem with your visa or passport, you’ve packed something illegal, or for any additional reasons the agents deem valid, you may be pulled aside to have your luggage searched or for further questioning. But we hope not!

There are numerous foods and other items that are prohibited from being brought to the USA, whether in your carry on or in your luggage. Check the list before you pack so there aren’t any problems when you arrive.

And if you’re traveling with medical devices that contain parts that could be considered dangerous, make sure you have your prescription available to allay concerns from the Transportation Security Administration or any other security agency.

Finally, let’s talk about money. You are able to bring under $10,000 in U.S. dollars or the equivalent in foreign currency. If you bring more than that, however, you must declare it to customs. But you shouldn’t have even close to that amount of money with you, as it’s much easier (and weighs less) to only pack money to use for your first month or so and to open a U.S. bank account once you arrive.