Once you have your student visa and your start date is confirmed, it's time to think about travelling to the USA.
The most important thing is to follow all visa and immigration advice from your university.
There are certain restrictions on the dates you can enter the USA, and there are documents you will need. In general, you will require the following:
- Passport with your visa
- I-20 or DS-2019 form
- Evidence of financial assistance (if not on I-20/DS-2019)
- I-94 form (given to you on the plane)
You should arrive in advance of any orientation programmes.
Although you are allowed to enter the USA 30 days before your official start date, you must notify the designated school official of:
- When you arrive in the USA
- When you arrive on campus (this should be an official meeting to confirm your attendance and visa status)
If you are planning on arriving in the USA before your official start date, make sure you have sufficient funds and accommodation is organised. You will be required to tell US customs where you are staying in the US.
Unless the university have confirmed it's okay, try not to arrive on campus in the evening or on a Saturday, Sunday or federal holiday. University offices are likely to be closed.
Once you have a confirmed start date, you can look into booking your flight.
If you're on a short-term programme or are coming home on a specific date for the holidays, it's probably better to book a return flight.
If you're staying for the entire year or longer, sometimes it can be more affordable to book a one-way flight and then book your homeward flight later in the year.
Please conduct thorough research for your flight plans, and discuss them with your institution's international student adviser.
The following resources may be of use:
Remember to factor in transport from the airport to the university.
Travel insurance can cover:
- Lost luggage/documentation (such as a passport)
- Cancelled/delayed flights
- Evacuation (eg during a natural disaster)
- Repatriation of remains (in the event of untimely death)
- Public liability (in case you are sued)
- Damage caused to a third party
Regular travel insurance rarely covers periods of study abroad longer than 31 days.
While we cannot advise on insurance, searching for 'Study abroad travel insurance' brings up some well known insurance companies in the UK.
If you decide to take travel insurance, do due diligence in researching your options before committing to a reputable and accredited insurance broker.