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ColumnsThings to keep in mind while travelling to the US for education

Things to keep in mind while travelling to the US for education

Published: 10th Jul 2021 10:48 pm

In our discussion last week about EducationUSA’s ‘Step 5: Prepare for Your Departure’ of the 5-Steps to master’s programmes in the United States, we learned about the importance of departure preparations for students who have received their US student visas.

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We discussed the various travel preparations students should complete before they leave for the United States, including booking tickets, arranging for pick up, and packing bags as per the airline and US authority guidelines. In addition, we talked about the important documents that students should take along, health-related tasks (get health checks, buy a good health insurance, and pack their prescription medications), housing preparations, and arranging for some US currency before they travel.

In today’s column, we discuss port-of-entry procedures and various things students should keep in mind during travel. The port-of-entry refers to the first airport in the United States where the student lands, which may either be a transit airport (in case the student is taking a connecting flight to another US city) or the destination airport of the student.

Students will be asked to complete the immigration card while they are on the flight or after arrival at the port-of-entry. Once the student lands at the airport, they should head to the immigration section, where they will go through an interview with the immigration officer. Students should make sure to keep their I-20, passport, university admission and acceptance letters, and financial documents handy before the interview. The interview may last for about 2-5 minutes.

Generally, the immigration officer asks questions related to student’s reason to travel to the United States, their programme of study and the US university, source of funding, and duration for which they plan to stay in the country.

Students should also know the address where they plan to stay in the country for the first few days/weeks. You may find more details related to the port of entry on the website of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry

Students should check with their airlines about whether they are expected to collect their baggage from the belt at the port-of-entry in case it is their transit airport. After collecting the baggage, they should re-check-in the baggage for their continuing flight after going through a security check. However, if the student has landed at their destination airport, they may take their baggage from the belt.

Please take note that previously all foreign visitors to the United States were required to fill a paper form of I-94 form to record their arrival and departure information. Now this process has been automatised.

While traveling, students should take note of their transit airport details along with the time difference to ensure they will be on time for flight connections.

Question & Answers:

Q – What are the application requirements to apply for master’s in public health programmes in the United States? – Rajesh Reddy

A – The application process for public health programmes in the United States varies by institution. For graduate level programmes, including a master’s in public health, students submit the online application, a statement of purpose, resume/CV, two-three reference letters, bachelor’s programme transcripts (also master’s transcript for PhD applicants or those applying for their 2nd master’s), GRE score (if required), and English language proficiency.

Many graduate level programmes in the United States use a common application SOPHAS (https://sophas.org/) that allows students to apply to multiple institutions and programmes of public health through one application. Students should make sure to check the application requirements of their shortlisted universities before registering for any test and submitting their applications. If a student is looking for funding support, they should submit their applications earlier than the regular deadline.

Q – Our son is going to apply for undergraduate programmes in the US after his 12th standard. Please share what is the relevance of activity list in the applications. – Afsar Khan

A – Given the wholistic review of a student’s profile during the admission process, the activity list/resume constitutes a key component of the undergraduate or bachelor’s degree application in the United States. A resume/list of activities is used by universities to assess a student’s non-academic qualifications, including special talents, leadership potential, involvement in extra-curricular activities, and/or engagement with the community.

The experiences reflected through this component of the application are a way for US admissions officers to understand the student as an individual and how the student would fit into the overall student community at the college or university. Admissions officers are looking for experiences that are meaningful, demonstrate passion the student has towards the activity, and how it contributed to the growth and development of the student.

(The author is a Regional Officer and EducationUSA Advisor at the US – India Educational Foundation based at the US Consulate General Hyderabad)

Also read:

SEVIS, a must for higher studies in US


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