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Preparing to Leave for U.S.

Preparing to Travel

When it comes time to make your trip to St. Louis, there are a few things you can do to prepare.

Here are a few steps to take as you begin making travel plans:

  1. Renew your passport for an expiration date no earlier than your program end date at Fontbonne. This will ensure that you are able to enter and depart the country during your program of study.
  2. After receiving your I-20 form, schedule an appointment with the American Embassy to complete your visa interview. Be sure to bring the appropriate documentation with you including your visa application, I-20 form, I-901 fee payment receipt (, your letter of acceptance at Fontbonne, financial statements and any other requirements.
  3. Before scheduling your flight to the U.S., contact the Housing Office or Office of International Affairs to verify your room assignment and earliest possible check-in date at Fontbonne.
  4. As an F-1 student, you must plan to arrive no earlier than 30 days prior to your program start date. Do not book your airline ticket before confirming that your room will be available for check in on the date that you plan to arrive at Fontbonne.
  5. The Housing Office requires students to check in to their rooms on certain dates and during certain time periods. Ensure that you will arrive to check in to your room on these dates and within these hours. If your flight is delayed and you are unable to arrive within these hours, please have a back-up plan including a local hotel option.
  6. Make copies of your immigration documents including your I-20 form, student visa, passport, financial statement, and acceptance letter to Fontbonne. Leave one copy of the documents in a safe place with a family member.
  7. Update your immunization records. An international student is required to submit proof of two immunizations against measles, mumps, and rubella during his/her lifetime. International students are also required to submit proof of a negative tuberculosis test dated within 30 days or a letter from physician confirming that the student is TB free.
  8. Notify your banking institution in your home country that you will be studying in the U.S.A. and for what time period you will be abroad. Discuss using your debit/credit card in the U.S. and whether it will function. Do not rely solely on your debit/credit card from your home country bank as sometimes these cards do not function in the U.S.
  9. Plan to bring a small amount of U.S. dollars that will provide enough funds to sustain you until you are able to meet with a U.S. banking official to open up an account in the U.S.
  10. Make travel arrangements from the St. Louis Lambert International Airport to Fontbonne University The average travel time from STL to Fontbonne  is 15 minutes.
  11. Send your travel itinerary to the Office of International Student Services with your arrival date. If you experience a delay at Customs and Immigration, this information will allow us to support you through the entry process.
  12. Also, you should schedule an appointment to confirm your arrival for visa purposes with the Office of International Affairs.
  13. Double-check to ensure you have included all necessary items in your carry-on bags and checked luggage before you depart.

Information about student visas, how to apply, required documentation and preparing for the interview is available from the U.S. Department of State.

We also recommend reading: “10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa.”

Tips for Travel

On the day of your travel, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Be sure you know your flight itinerary (flight numbers, departure and arrival times). You will most likely be flying into the St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL).
  • Verify that you have transportation arranged from the airport. If you need assistance with transportation from STL to Fontbonne contact the International Affairs Office for information on shuttles.
  • If your flight information changes and you have pre-arranged transportation, be sure to notify them of any changes whenever possible.
  • Hand carry all of your important documents, including your passport, I-20 (F-1), acceptance letter, financial documents and all other supporting documents. These must be readily available for immigration officials at your port of entry.
  • When you arrive at your Point of Entry and pass through Customs and Border Protection, you will receive a stamp in your passport with the date of admission, class of admission (F1 or J1) and admitted-until-date (D/S). Check that your information is correct. If it is not correct, notify the Office of International Affairs as soon as you arrive on campus. Your electronic arrival/departure record (I-94) can be found online.
  • If for some reason, the CBP inspector cannot verify your information or you do not have all your required documents, you will go through secondary inspection. This allows inspectors more time to research and verify your information without delaying other passengers. It is very important that you have name and contact information for the Office of International Affairs.
  • If you do not have all your required documents, you may be issued a Form-515A which will allow you temporary admission for 30 days in order to submit necessary documentation. If you receive this form, you will need to contact the Office of International Student Services immediately.

See further information from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Department of Homeland Security: Study in the States.

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