Entering the United States


You have your visa, your bags are packed and you’re ready to go! Learn about documents needed to enter the U.S. for the first time as a KU Scholar/Employee. For travel during your time at KU, visit our Documents Needed to Return to the U.S. page.

How to Enter the United States

Present your Documents

Have these documents in your hand (and not packed in a suitcase) for the officer to review:

  • Unexpired Passport (valid for at least six months beyond the date of travel to the U.S.)
  • Valid Visa (Canadians are exempt from visa requirement)
  • SEVIS fee receipt
  • DS-2019
  • Letter of Offer (if employed by KU)
  • Invitation Letter
  • Financial documentation

The earliest date you may enter the U.S. is 30 days before the program start date in item 3 on your DS-2019.

  • Unexpired Passport (valid for at least six months beyond the date of travel to the U.S.)
  • Valid Visa (Canadians are exempt from visa requirement)
  • Offer Letter
  • Original Form I-797 (H-1B Approval Notice from the USCIS)
  • Copy of I-129 H-1B Petition

The earliest date you may enter the U.S. is 10 days before the start date on the I-797 approval notice of your petition.

  • Unexpired Passport (valid for at least six months beyond the date of travel to the U.S.)
  • Valid Visa (Mexican citizens require entry visa; Canadians are exempt from visa requirement)
  • Offer Letter
  • TN Letter

The earliest date you may enter the U.S. is 10 days in advance of the job start date.

  • Unexpired Passport (valid for at least six months beyond the date of travel to the U.S.)
  • Valid Visa (Canadians are exempt from visa requirement)
  • Offer Letter
  • Original Form I-797 (O-1 Approval Notice from the USCIS)
  • Copy of I-129 O-1 Petition)

The earliest date you may enter the U.S. is 10 days before the start date on the I-797 approval notice of your petition.

Enter through the U.S. Port of Entry

CBP (Customs and Border Protection) is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and is the government agency that controls admission to the United States. Your visa and other immigration documents are evidence of your eligibility to apply for admission in a particular visa status at a U.S. Port of Entry. The CBP officer makes the final decision on your admissibility.

1. Get in line

There will be two lines for Customs and Immigration—one for U.S. citizens and the other for international visitors.

2. Meet the Immigration Officer

The immigration officer will review your documents and ask you a few questions about the purpose of your travel to the U.S..

If all is in order, the officer will admit you to the U.S. in the immigration classification. The officer will stamp your passport with:

  • date and place of arrival
  • immigration status
  • expiration of this status

3. Check carefully that the stamp is correct for your status

J-1 Scholar: Stamp should be for J-1 for “D/S” which reflects Duration of Status (until the end of the program on your DS-2019)

H-1B Scholar: stamp for admission in H-1B status with a specific date which is the expiration of the approved petition. If your passport expires before your I-797 approval notice, your I-94 record will be shortened to your passport expiration date. Please contact ISS if your I-94 record end date is different than your I-797 approval notice.

TN Scholar: stamp for admission in TN status with a specific date up to 3 years from the date of entry.

CBP also creates an electronic record of your arrival. Check it a day or two later to make sure it is correct.

4. Gather your things

Make sure you have all your papers and hand luggage with you before you leave the inspection area.

Remember to pick up your luggage at the designated carousel for your flight and exit the airport passing through Customs.

Get to Lawrence

Lawrence is about 45 minutes away from the Kansas City Airport. We recommend that you setup a shuttle to take you from the airport to your residence in Lawrence.

List of shuttle companies