UMD: A Globally Connected University

U.S. Customs and I-94 Process

U.S. Customs and I-94 Process

It's time to get ready to come to the United States. Are you ready?


Don’t forget, as a J-1 scholar, you may not enter the U.S. earlier than 30 days prior to the start date on your DS-2019 form.


As you prepare to depart your home country, make sure you pack the following in your carry-on luggage:

  • Your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay
  • Your Form DS-2019
  • Evidence of financial resources
  • Letter of invitation or appointment
  • Receipt for the SEVIS fee
  • Phone number for International Student and Scholar Services: +001 301-314-7740


At the port-of-entry, be prepared to present your DS-2019 and open your passport to your J-1 visa for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer. The officer will look over your documents and ask you several questions about your stay in the US.  He or she will electronically enter the visa status you are admitted with (J-1), the date of entry, and how long your stay in the US is valid ("admitted until date). If you arrive by plane, you may access this arrival record (called the I-94 record) at using your passport and travel information.  The CBP officer will also give you an entry stamp in your passport.  Exception: If you arrive by land, s/he will staple a stamped paper I-94 card into your passport.

Your I-94 record (and entry stamp in the passport) should read "J-1, D/S" if you are a J-1 exchange visitor.  Please check carefully to make sure that this is correctly noted.  It is very important!  If "J-1, D/S" is not indicated in your I-94 record, you will have to return to the airport to get it corrected.  It is a good idea to save a PDF of the I-94 screenshot to your computer or phone. You will need it to upload it to your iTerp account as part of the ISSS check in process in order to report your arrival.

Note: You will receive a new I-94 record each time you enter the U.S. (replacing the previous record) so ISSS recommends you that upon each arrival, you always refer back to the CBP website to ensure you have been admitted in the correct immigration class. This is especially important for those who hold multiple valid visas. Always save an e-copy of the I-94 in your records. While in the U.S., you may sometimes be asked to show the most recent I-94 in order to document your current J-1 status (for example to apply for a driver’s license, etc.).

If you have any questions about the I-94 system, please contact ISSS.

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