Arrival in the United States

Date of Entry to the U.S.

U.S. immigration regulations permit new F/J students to enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to but no later than the program start date printed on page one the USC I-20/DS-2019. Please consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the U.S..

As reminder, all new students are required to attend the New Student Orientation. Students who are not able to enter the U.S. in time for the New Student Orientation due to visa delays should contact the Office of Orientation Programs and their academic department alerting them of the delay.

Late Entry

Entry to the U.S. after the program start date is not guaranteed and is at the discretion of the Port of Entry Officer at the airport as well as the USC academic department. In general, a student cannot arrive more than one week after classes start and must be enrolled full time for that semester. Students who are not able to enter the U.S. by the program start date on the I-20/DS-2019 must contact their academic department to request a late arrival permission letter. Students may be asked for the late entry permission letter at the U.S. Port of Entry. If the academic department is able to accommodate the student despite the late arrival, they should issue a late arrival permission letter that includes the following information:

  • Date letter is issued
  • Letter should be addressed to U.S. Customs & Border Patrol
  • Student’s full name
  • USC ID
  • Date of birth
  • A statement that indicates the academic department is aware of the student’s late arrival and that student should arrive no later than mm/dd/year (enter date that is one week from the start of classes) and that a full course load will be offered upon arrival. Please note: If student is going to be more than one week late, he should defer to the following semester.
  • Academic department’s contact information in case the Port of Entry officer has any follow-up questions regarding his academic program.
  • Letter should be issued on academic department’s letterhead and signed by either the academic advisor or director of the program.

As a reminder, a late entry letter does not guarantee entry to the U.S. as students should be entering the U.S. by the program start date listed on their I-20. Upon entry to the U.S., international students must immediately complete Passport Verification (PPV) so that OIS can properly activate their SEVIS record.

Students who may be more than one week late will need to work with their academic department and Admissions to defer their attendance to the next semester. The Office of Graduate Admissions (GA) will then assist undergraduate and graduate students with providing the updated I-20/DS-2019.

U.S. Port of Entry

I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

All non-immigrants are assigned an I-94 number upon entry to the US. Students can access their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record from the CBP website. The printout will serve as an official I-94 record for federal and state government-based benefit applications, such as driver’s license and social security number. Please review this page to learn more about the I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.

Transportation from LAX to USC

The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is approximately 30 minutes from the USC University Park Campus (UPC). There are many options students can use to get to either the UPC or the Health Sciences Campus (HSC) including USC trams, private shuttles and private taxis. This section provides more information about the transportation options from LAX to USC.

Living in LA

The Living in LA section of the OIS website contains information on U.S. financial matters such as opening a banking  account and paying taxes, as well as information on transportation, safety, and health and wellness resources.

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