Before You Arrive

In this section prospective international students will find information about requesting or refusing an I-20 or DS-2019, insurance and financial requirements, and other essential pre-arrival information.

Our goal is to assist and advise incoming international students on U.S. immigration related issues and regulations.  We also help direct students to finding answers to many questions about the transition to Penn State as a newly admitted student.

For Frequently Asked Questions, visit the Pre-Arrival FAQs page.

Preparing to Enter the United States - Customs and Border Protection

The United States has rules and restrictions about who can enter, what activities are permitted, and what is required for each length of stay. You need to be aware of the many rules as you prepare to enter the United States.

I-94 Arrival/Departure Forms

Form I-94 is the DHS arrival/departure record. The I-94 is an extremely important piece of your travel record and status while in the United States. You should have a copy of the actual Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record which provides evidence of your legal admission to the U.S. 

  • Each time you enter the U.S., you will be issued a new I-94. Immediately after each entry, you should go to the I-94 website to pull up the new I-94 PDF and PRINT a copy for your records and as evidence of legal entry. 
  • You are required to upload your I-94 record in iStart as proof of your arrival into the United States during the Mandatory Document Check-In process.
  • If you have been granted F-1 or J-1 status through a Change of Status process and do not have a visa stamp in your passport, you will receive an I-797 Approval Notice instead of an I-94 as proof of your status in the U.S.


Some items cannot be brought into the United States. Others may require permits, and yet others may only be restricted from certain locations. Read more information regarding Clearing Customs and Border Protection before you travel into the United States.

Currency Reporting

Under U.S. law, you can bring into, or take out of, the United States as much money as you wish. However, if it is more than $10,000, it must be reported to Customs and Border Protection. In addition, destination and transit country requirements may apply. Please read more about reporting currency on the Customs and Border Protection webpage.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Resources