Arriving in the US and Traveling to Bellingham
US Immigration Inspection
When you arrive in the US, you will need to have the following items available to present at immigration inspection:
- a valid passport (passports should be valid for at least 6 months into the future)
- a valid US visa (Canadians do not require a visa)
- an immigration document (an I-20 for F-1 status or DS-2019 for J-1 status)
- a receipt for the SEVIS I-901 fee
- evidence of funding
In airports, immigration inspection is located before baggage collection -- keep these items in your hand luggage so that you can easily access them.
The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will evaluate your documents and may ask you a few questions. He or she will then issue you with either an admission stamp in your passport or Form I-94, a small white card usually stapled to the passport opposite the visa stamp. In summer of 2013, CBP transitioned to electronic arrival/departure records for air and sea ports of entry. For most travelers arriving by air or sea, a paper I-94 card will not be issued. Instead, the CBP official will issue an admission stamp in the passport. Travelers at land borders will continue to receive paper I-94 cards.
The admission stamp or I-94 card records the date and place you entered the US, your immigration status (for example, J-1 or J-2), and authorized period of stay (indicated by "D/S", meaning "duration of status"). Be sure to check the stamp to make sure it is correct. If you receive a paper I-94 card, keep it stapled in your passport. A $330 fee is required to replace a lost, stolen or damaged paper I-94 card. Consult your ISSS advisor if you lose your I-94 card.
You might need a printout of your I-94 information to apply for various benefits such as a Washington State ID card or a Social Security Number. You can obtain a printout of your I-94 record at the CBP website.
Bringing Food and Agricultural Products into the US
Please be aware that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) places restrictions on the types of food and agricultural products allowed into the United States. This is done to protect US agriculture from pests and disease. Read over the USDA guidelines for international travelers before bringing any food items or agricultural products into the US, as items that are not permitted will be seized. These restrictions also apply to items sent by mail, so it's a good idea to inform family and friends who may be sending you packages containing food products from home.
Traveling to Bellingham
Bellingham is located between Seattle, WA, USA and Vancouver, BC, Canada. Many students traveling from overseas or from other parts of the US fly into Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) International Airport (SEA). You can then transfer to a flight to Bellingham International Airport (BLI) or take the Airporter Shuttle to Bellingham. It is also possible to fly into Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and travel to Bellingham by Quick Coach, but remember that citizens of some countries are required to have a visa to visit Canada. It is also possible to travel between Portland (Oregon), Seattle, Bellingham, and Vancouver by rail and Bolt Bus.