Arrival in the U.S.
When You Arrive in the U.S.
A U.S. visa gives you permission to travel to the United States, but does not guarantee your entrance or determine the length of time you will be allowed to stay. An immigration officer at the point of entry makes those decisions.
When you arrive, an immigration officer will review your passport, visa, and I-94 arrival and departure card to verify if and how long you can be admitted to the U.S. The immigration officer will capture your photo and your fingerprints just like during the visa interview process. If you are approved, you will be directed to the baggage and customs inspection areas to collect your luggage.
In some cases, an immigration officer may direct you to the secondary inspection area for further questions. During secondary inspection, a second immigration officer will review your case and ask you about your travel and background.
Know Before you go
For detailed information on arriving in the U.S., please visit the following websites:
- Filling Out Form I-94
- Admission into the United States: Q & A
- More Info on All Aspects of the Arrival Process
- Complaints about the Arrival or Inspection Process
- Frequently Asked Questions about U.S. Arrivals
- Lost/Stolen Passports, Visas, and I-94s
- National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS)
Bringing Goods into the U.S.
After you collect your luggage and are cleared through passport and visa inspection, you must clear any goods that you brought with you through the customs inspection area. For information on what goods you can and cannot bring into the country and the fees you may have to pay, please visit:
- Clearing Goods Through Customs (PDF 116KB)
Departing the U.S.
When you are ready to depart the U.S., you should plan additional time into your departure for airline check-in and security screening. For up-to-date information on prohibited items, personal preparation for screening and the screening process, please visit:
If you returned home with your departure record Form I-94 (white) or Form I-94W (green) in your passport, your departure was not properly recorded. For the most current procedures on turning in your I-94 in order to correct your travel record, please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection site.
All downloadable documents on this page are provided in PDF format. To view PDFs you must have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader. You can download a free version by clicking the link above.