• What to Expect

    To learn about pre-departure orientations in your home country, contact the nearest EducationUSA Advising Center and inquire about practical information sessions on living and studying in the United States. For information on how best to prepare, visit the Prepare for Your Departure page on EducationUSA, where you will find other useful information, such as how to Finance Your Studies. You can also view our International Student Pre-Departure Checklist (PDF).

    To learn about student/exchange visa regulations and expectations, please visit the official government website Study in the States. This website includes all of the regulatory information and is translated into different languages.

    The Department of Homeland Security has instituted changes in U.S. entry and exit procedures to improve security without slowing down travel. Here is what you can expect at the U.S. port of entry. A paper I-94 arrival/departure record is no longer issued at air and sea ports. Students arriving through air and sea ports should print out their I-94 admission records after arriving in the United States by logging on to www.cbp.gov/I94 and keep them in a safe place. View a Customs and Border Protection presentation on entering the United States and tips for successfully retrieving your I-94 record ( PDF).

    Basic Concepts

    Primary Purpose

    When nationals of other countries wish to visit the United States, U.S. immigration authorities require them to declare the primary purpose for the visit. Visitors make that declaration twice: once at the time when they apply for a visa and again at the port of entry when they apply for entry status. There is a unique visa and corresponding status for every primary purpose identified by the U.S. government. If you have applied for and received an I-20 or a DS-2019 from The New School, your primary purpose for applying for a visa and entry into the United States is to study.

    Visa and Status: Know the Difference


    A visa is official authorization affixed to a valid passport that allows entry into the United States.

    • Think of your visa as a key and your I-20/DS-2019 as a contract—you need both to be allowed to enter and reside in your temporary home. Once in the United States, you will no longer need your visa until the next time you wish to enter the country. As with a key, you use your visa only to "open the door" and enter. Once in, you do not use your key until you leave and need to reenter, but you do need to have a valid contract (I-20/DS-2019) at all times.
    • You can apply for a visa only from outside of the United States. If you are in the United States and wish to apply for a student visa, you must return to your home country to make the application.


    Your status in the United States is maintained by your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1). All non-immigrants are assigned a status upon entry into the United States.

    • When you enter the United States, expect a Customs and Border Protection officer to stamp your passport and write your status on the stamp. Beginning in spring 2013, officers will no longer issue I-94 Arrival/Departure records; students will have the option of printing out their I-94 records after arriving in the United States by logging onto www.cbp.gov/I94 (recommended).
    • Remember that both visas and I–94 statuses are specific to the primary purpose of your visit. The type of visa you hold determines the type of status you receive. Your I–94 status determines which rules you must follow while you are in the United States.

    Arrival Date

    Do not attempt to enter the United States more than 30 days before the start date of your program of study as shown on section 5 of the I-20 or section 3 of the DS-2019. Although the activation date of your visa may precede this date, you may not be allowed to enter at a U.S. port of entry if you arrive more than 30 days early; if you do enter, you may be in violation of your immigration status. Also, you should not attempt to enter the United States after the start date of your program as shown on section 5 of your I-20 or section 3 of the DS-2019. Notify New School International Student and Scholar Services immediately if you are unable to arrive by this date.

    B-1/B-2 (Tourist) or F-2 (Dependent) Status

    Students who plan to pursue a full-time course of study (including students accepted in the Parsons Summer Intensive Studies and Summer Studies in Constructed Environments programs), do not apply for a B‑2 or F‑2 visa. U.S. immigration regulations prohibit individuals who enter the United States as tourists (B-2) or dependents of F-1 students (F-2) from enrolling in any full-time course of study. In order to attend school in the United States, you must apply for your own F‑1 or J-1 student status even if you are living with a spouse, parent, or guardian who is in this country on a student visa. Otherwise, you will be in violation of your B‑2 or F‑2 status.