Arriving in the U.S.

As you enter the U.S. and make your way to campus, there are a few instructions for entering and traveling to campus that you should be familiar with, as it will help ease the transition.

Program Start Date

You may arrive in the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the program start date on your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. If you attempt to enter the U.S. after the start date on your documents, you may be denied entry.

Arrive at the U.S. Port of Entry

At the U.S. port of entry, you will need to present the following documents to the inspections officer, so do not pack these items in your checked luggage:

  • valid passport with a valid F-1 or J-1 Visa stamp (does not apply for Canadian citizens)
  • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 issued by Notre Dame
  • Notre Dame admission letter
  • evidence of financial resources

Please be aware that CBP officers have the authority to search all electronic devices (phones, computers, etc.), even without probable cause, at the port-of-entry to the U.S.

In Chicago, there is a separate line for F-1 and J-1 visa holders; be sure to use the appropriate entry lane so you are processed as an F-1 or J-1 student.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website is a valuable resource for understanding your rights at the U.S. port of entry. Review before any international travel.

I-94 Record and Admissions Stamp

Upon arrival in the U.S., a Custom and Border Protection official will review the documents listed above. Once they have determined you are eligible for entry, they will enter your status into the I-94 system.

Every time you enter the U.S., you should review and print your I-94 record so you have evidence of your immigration status, which includes the length of time you may remain inside the U.S.

  • F-1 and J-1 visa holders will see the notation "D/S" on their I-94 record and their admission stamp. D/S means "duration of status," which refers to the program end date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. When your status is marked D/S, you may remain in the U.S. as long as your Form I-20 or DS-2019 is accurate and unexpired.

Get to Campus

It's important to have a plan for getting to campus, as public transportation options from Chicago to Notre Dame are limited. Learn more about Getting to Campus here.

Complete F-1 or J-1 Registration

As an F-1 or J-1 student visa with a Notre Dame-issued Form I-20 or DS-2019, you must register with ISSA within 30 days of the program start date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019.

If you fail to check in within 30 days of your program start date, your I-20 record may be terminated.

  • Graduate & professional students: Upon arrival on campus, go to and complete the F-1 or J-1 New Student Registration form. You are still required to attend International Student Orientation, and you will be responsible for adhering to all responsibilities and regulations we discuss at orientation.
  • Undergraduate students: Bring your passport and I-20 to international student orientation. An ISSA advisor will help you complete the New Student Registration form. We ISSA will provide an overview of responsibilities and regulations at orientation.

For instructions on completing F-1 or J-1 Registration, review our Registration page.

Attend International Student Orientation

All new international students are required to attend International Student Orientation or an ISSA-led "Maintaining Your Status" session within their program's orientation schedule. See our International Student Orientation pages for info.