Arriving in the U.S.

We are so pleased to welcome you to Notre Dame! As you enter the U.S. and make your way to campus, there are a few instructions on 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 this start date, 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 (except for Canadian citizens who are not required to have a visa stamp)
  • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 issued by Notre Dame;
  • Notre Dame admission letter; and
  • evidence of financial resources.

Please be aware that CBP officers have the authority to search all electronic devices (phones, computers, etc.), even without probably 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.

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 and put an admission stamp in your passport.  

You should review and print your I-94 record each time you enter the U.S. 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

Though the closest airport to Notre Dame is the South Bend International Airport, most students fly into Chicago-O’Hare Airport (ORD) or Chicago Midway (MDW) and take the bus, an UBER, or the South Shore Train from downtown Chicago to the South Bend airport. See the quick reference guide below for transportation options from Chicago-O’Hare Airport (ORD) or Chicago Midway (MDW) to South Bend / Notre Dame.

There is a time change between Chicago (CST) and South Bend (EST), so add an hour to your expected arrival time. Chicago O'Hare is on Central Time; Notre Dame is on Eastern Time.

Summer Transportation from O'Hare to Notre Dame

ISSA sponsors transportation for new international students traveling from Chicago-O'Hare Airport (ORD) to campus August 10 (leaving O'Hare at 2:30 p.m. CT) and August 11 (leaving O'Hare at 9:30 p.m. CT). Undergraduates can also access transportation on Tuesday, August 15 (leaving O'Hare at 4:00 p.m. CT) and Wednesday, August 16 (leaving O'Hare at 9:00 a.m. CT).  Each seat is $70. 

Seat can be purchased here.

Other Transportation Options

We highly recommend flying into Chicago if you cannot get a flight to South Bend, as there is no convenient public transportation from Indianapolis, IN, or Detroit, MI, to South Bend.

If you arrive at Chicago O’Hare and rent a car, it will take two hours to drive to Notre Dame. This will be the most expensive option, and a U.S. or international driver's license will likely be required.

If you arrive at Chicago O’Hare and don’t have a car, there are a few options, but they are less convenient.

  • You can arrange an UBER/LYFT from Chicago to South Bend; depending on the time, this option will be around $200. We recommend connecting with another new student to share the cost.  
  • You can take the Chicago Metro to either the South Shore Line or Amtrak trains. From your arrival in South Bend, you would need to take a taxi to campus. This option will be about $60 and may be inconvenient if you have more than two suitcases.  

If you stay in downtown Chicago, you can also take the South Shore Line or Amtrak train to South Bend. You will then need to take a taxi to campus.

If you arrive at the South Bend International Airport, you can take a 15-minute taxi to campus for $15-30.

Download the Quick Reference Travel Guide

Travel Table

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. 

Attend International Student Orientation

All new international students are required to attend International Student Orientation or an ISSA-led "Maintaining F1/J1 Status" session within their program's orientation schedule. See our International Student Orientation pages for info.