Getting Here & First Things
Once you’ve been admitted and issued your visa certificate, you still need to get here. Once you’re here, you’ll have lots of things to do. The checklist below is designed to help guide you in setting up a list of priorities and decisions.
You now have your admission offer, your passport, your I-20 (or DS-2019), copies of your I-901 SEVIS fee receipt and financial documents (bank statement, sponsor letter, or award letter), and your visa stamp. Next comes your flight arrangements. Most students arriving from abroad will try to fly into the Raleigh-Durham International airport (RDU), which is only about a 15 minute drive from NC State University and downtown Raleigh. Although it is a very nice airport, there are few direct flights from overseas points of origin, so you will likely be arriving into the US at a “major port of entry.” Students coming across the Pacific or polar cap often arrive and are “inspected” in Los Angeles, Detroit, or Chicago. Most students flying across the Atlantic will go through Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) at Newark, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, or Atlanta. If you have a choice, try to take a night flight so you arrive in the early morning and you can look out your window when landing at one of America’s great cities. New international students are permitted to enter the US up to 30 days before the program start date (listed on your Form I-20 or DS-2019). Do not plan to arrive in the US more than 30 days before this date or after this date. OIS strongly recommends new international students to arrive during the week before our New International Student Orientation (held a few days before the first day of classes each semester). Students arriving during this time can request airport pick-up at no extra charge (check the Orientation Page).
Important: Please be advised that if you plan to arrive late to NC State University, you may have difficulty with entry in the U.S. and your academic progress may be adversely affected. If you will not arrive by the 1st day of classes (1/7/2013), please follow the instructions posted here: Late Arrivals
Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is the branch of the Department of Homeland Security that reviews the travel documents for visitors who wish to enter the US and are located at all major airports in the US. CBP has a helpful website including a handout on what documents new international students should have with them when going through “Inspections” at the airport. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement also has helpful information about what to expect when arriving.
When you get off the plane at the airport (unless you are simply changing planes at an intermediate airport and will go through “Customs” or “Inspections” at the next airport), you will be directed to the luggage area where (hopefully!) you will find your bags or suitcases all in one piece. You should not have anything in your luggage (or carry-on or in your pockets) that is prohibited – or looks like or smells like something that is prohibited for entry. This includes fruit and fresh food, meat, cheese, seeds, plants, spices, weapons, animals, explosives, drugs and medicines (unless it is factory sealed, clearly described in English, and you have a prescription for it), and other items. You should report any missing or damaged bags to the airline office located there in the luggage area (they may tell you to proceed or give you other instructions if there is a general problem with luggage). In most airports, you will take your bags and your visa documents through a gated area for the CBP officer to inspect. Have on your person - not in your checked bags – and ready to present your passport, admission letter, and original I-20 or DS-2019. CBP has several other helpful webpages that you may wish to review.
You will also be given on the airplane just before landing a white Admission-Departure Card (Form I-94) on which you will write your last name, first name, date of birth, and country of citizenship. Be sure to neatly complete this form (both sections) in black ink and keep this with your passport and Form I-20. After looking at your documents (and usually scanning them or running them through a barcode reader) the CBP inspector should date and stamp your Form I-20 AND your Form I-94 with a notation of “F-1” (or “J-1” if you have a Form DS-2019) and “D/S” before returning them to you. BEFORE you leave the inspections area, check your documents to make sure both your Form I-20 and the Form I-94 are stamped the correct visa type and “D/S” or you will have a lot of difficulties later on when you get to campus. If you have family members with you, be sure their documents are also correctly marked F-2 or J-2.
International travelers must also participate in the US Visit program. Most airports have kiosks where you must enter some biographical information and scan your fingerprints. Instructions are on the kiosk itself, but you can learn more about it and watch a brief instructional video at this link.
If you are missing – or can’t find – your Form I-20 or DS-2019 when going through the Inspection process, the CBP inspector may have you fill out a Form I-515 (and pay a fine). This is called “Deferred Inspection,” and it allows you to enter in F-1 or J-1 status for up to 30 days so you can check in with OIS (you must check in with OIS immediately upon arrival) and we can assist you in sending new documents to an immigration office in Washington DC for correcting your record. The CBP officer may ask you a question or two. It is usually best to answer any questions simply and directly and not to ask them questions, joke, or volunteer more information than is requested – particularly if there is a long line of tired passengers behind you.
After “clearing customs” you will proceed –to the main lobby of the airport – either to catch your connecting flight or to your local transportation if you are in Raleigh. If you have requested airport pick-up at RDU (either through OIS or one of the international student organizations at NC State) during the scheduled times and have an email confirmation you can expect to find someone with a sign with your name on it or with “NCSU” on it. Please be patient if you have to wait a little bit since we provide airport-pick-up to hundreds and hundreds of new students and sometimes flights are delayed or several planes come into one of three different terminals at RDU at the same time. The pick-up driver will usually have a van or car and will take you to OIS office (if during business hours) or your temporary accommodations (if you requested temporary lodging) or a local hotel if you prefer. If you do not have a pick-up confirmation, or if your plane is significantly delayed, or if you prefer to arrange your own transportation at your own expense, you can take a taxi to the University area for about $30. There are also some shuttles that go downtown, regional busses (Triangle Transit Authority), or vans that can take you to a hotel. There is no train or subway.
Check In is mandatory for all new international students so that we may meet you and have a record of your arrival. At Check In we will make copies of your immigration documents and provide useful information and a Check list to help you accomplish important tasks upon your arrival to NC State. Check-in appointments can be made beginning June 1st through OIS online.. Check In Schedule and Check In related FAQs
First Things – Checklist for Newcomers
|Submit Health Info|
|Submit Health History and Immunization records||More Info|
|Temporary Housing Arrangements||(arrange before arrival)|
|Find Apartment/Roommate||Ask Student Legal Services to Review Contract|
|Update "SEVIS Local" Address||More Info|
|Move - in||Buy furniture & supplies (sheets, pillows, etc.,)|
|Check-in at OIS||(320 Daniels Hall, 111 Lampe Street)|
|Pick-up check-in packet||Take documents for copying|
|Attend check-in presentation||To download presentation click here|
|Open bank account||Deposit money, get checks & debit card|
|Pay tuition and fees||Cashier’s Office|
|Buy groceries||Purchase Meal Plan if staying in the dorm|
|Sign up for Grocery Discounts||(Vic, MVP, etc.,)(Coupons in newspapers)|
|Register for Courses|
|Meet with academic advisor||Discuss courses with DGP, professors, and others|
|Get Pin from department||Register through MyPack portal|
|Get your CampusID||West Dunn building – used for gym, busses, library|
|Drop-Add courses?||Change after attending first class?|
|Attend OIS Information Fair (optional, but highly recommended)||August 15th|
|Mini-Session with campus and community representatives||August 15th and 16th|
|Attend OIS orientation (mandatory)||
August 15th and 16th
Make-up orientation: TBD
|Attend graduate orientation||(or undergraduate orientation if you are undergraduate)|
|Attend departmental orientation||(if any)|
|Attend Study Abroad orientation||(for those on an exchange program through Study Abroad)|
|Graduate School Functions|
|Attend New Graduate Student Orientation||August 20th, McKimmon Center|
|Immunizations Records||Check to make sure they have your records|
|Health Insurance||Purchase University Student Plan|
|Locate Computer Labs on campus||Purchase laptop?|
|Phones||Buy cell phone?|
|TV||Buy HDTV? Cable/Satellite?|
|Buy or Rent a bicycle?||Buy helmet and lock!|
|We recommend newcomers to not buy a car in the first year (licenses, insurance, expenses, safety)|
|Learn the bus routes and schedules||Busses are free; maps in OIS check-in packet|
|Purchase books for classes||(Buy used books to save money)|
|Tour campus & Raleigh||TBD|
|Attend OIS Welcome Party||TBD|
|Visit the gym – get your locker||Join a fitness class or sport club|
|Make friends||Join a club or student organization; listservs, Facebook page|