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Arrival in the United States

Chase Hall • 570-408-6120 (T) • 570-408-4904 (F) • Email

ARRIVAL IN THE UNITED STATES

Port of Entry Procedures:

Once you have obtained your U.S. student visa, you are ready to finalize your travel plans. Be sure to have your I-20 and your proof of Federal SEVIS fee payment with your passport and visa when you go through your immigration inspection at the U.S. port of entry. Remember that if you plan to attend Wilkes University, you must present a certificate of eligibility (your I-20) endorsed for study at Wilkes.

DO NOT enter on another school’s certificate of eligibility, as that is considered to be a fraudulent entry by the U.S. Immigration authorities.

DO NOT attempt to enter the United States on a visitor/tourist visa (B-2) unless it is designated “Prospective Student” by a consular officer. The U.S. Immigration Service rarely authorizes a change of status from B-2 to F-1, and you will be prevented from enrolling in school until your change of status application is approved, which could take several months.

DO NOT attempt to enter the United States under the visa waiver program, available to citizens from nearly thirty countries throughout the world. The waiver program is designed for tourists only, and attending school under the waiver program is a clear violation of U.S. Immigration law.

Expect to go through both immigration and customs inspection at the U.S. port of entry. You may also be required to go through a pre-inspection procedure at certain airports abroad. At the immigration booth, present your passport, visa, I-20, your proof of Federal SEVIS fee payment, and your completed I-94 arrival/departure card (if the card was distributed on the airplane). Expect to have your index fingers scanned for fingerprint purposes and a digital photograph taken, as required by U.S. federal regulations. In the vast majority of cases, there will be no difficulty. In certain cases, if there is some problem with your documents, you may be issued a 30-day entry on your I-94 card and issued a form I-515, usually with instructions to see your international student advisor. Examine your I-94 card and I-20 carefully as you leave the immigration booth. F-1 students should have their I-94 cards marked “D/S” which means “Duration of Status,” along with a stamp indicating the date you entered the United States. The same stamp and “D/S” notation should also be on the I-20. If an expiration date is written on the I-94 instead of “D/S,” and you are in F status, come to the International Student Services Office as soon as possible.

Anyone who is denied admission at a U.S. port of entry should be very cautious about arguing with the immigration official. You may risk being issued “expedited removal,” which now entails a five-year ban on admission to the United States. If you are denied admission, first try to contact the International Student Services Office for assistance, but also make it known to the immigration official that you are willing to withdraw your application for admission to the country rather than be subject to expedited removal.

Money:

It is a good idea to exchange currency for U.S. dollars before your departure, but you should not travel with large amounts of cash—there is too much danger of loss or theft. If you anticipate bringing large sums of money to the United States, ask a bank about the safest and most convenient means of carrying or transferring funds. Remember that if you carry more than $10,000 in U.S. or foreign currency, traveler’s checks, money orders or negotiable instruments, you must report it on your Customs Form at the U.S. port of entry. Failure to do so can result in the seizure of the currency. If you make arrangements for funds to be transferred in U.S. dollars to a U.S. bank before you leave home, that money will be available to you when you arrive on campus. Foreign currency is not readily available in most U.S. cities, and the University and all local businesses accept only U.S. dollars.

When you arrive in the United States, you should have sufficient funds to cover your expenses when you reach Wilkes. The amount depends, of course, on your travel plans. Once you have decided on your itinerary and estimated expenses, you may wish to purchase traveler’s checks in U.S. dollars for the amount of money you need. Traveler’s checks, obtained at banks or travel offices, can be cashed by banks and most businesses, including hotels, restaurants and airports.

It is also advisable to carry a small amount of U.S. cash—at least fifty dollars in paper currency and two or three dollars in coins or “change” for telephones, baggage lockers, bus fares, and tips.

American money is based on a decimal system. One US Dollar equals one hundred cents. Paper currency is used for US$1 and over. Coin currency is used for amounts less than US$1. Here is a list of the most commonly used coins in the United States.

Coin                Figure Pictured                       Value                         Color
Penny               Lincoln                                     1 cent                         copper
Nickel              Jefferson                                   5 cents                        silver
Dime                Roosevelt                                 10 cents                      silver
Quarter            Washington                              25 cents                      silver
Half-Dollar       Kennedy                                  50 cents                      silver
Dollar               Anthony                                   100 cents                    silver
Dollar               Sacagawea                               100 cents                    gold

 Here is a list of the most commonly used paper bills in the United States.

Denomination               Figure                       Illustration (on back)
US$1                           Washington                  Great Seal of the United States
US$2                           Jefferson                       Declaration of Independence
US$5                           Lincoln                         Lincoln Memorial
US$10                         Hamilton                       U.S. Treasury Building
US$20                         Jackson                        White House
US$50                         Grant                            U.S. Capitol Building
US$100                       Franklin                        Independence Hall

Payment of tuition, fees, and other charges is due prior to registration (when you enroll for classes). Payment may be made by cash, check or credit card.

If you cannot make full payment at the time payment is due, you must make special payment arrangements with Student Services. If you fail to do so, you will be charged a late fee and may not be able to register. Sponsored students must submit copies of their award letters to arrange for direct payment by their sponsors. If you wish to deposit funds in your University account before arrival, you may send a check to

Student Services
Financial Management
84 West South Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766 USA

Write on your check the student identification number assigned to you by the University and make the check payable to Wilkes University. If you have any questions about payment procedures, or you need to find out your student identification number, please contact the Office of Student Services at onestop@wilkes.edu

Financial aid for international students is limited at Wilkes University. It is not unheard of, however. There will be a letter in your admission packet outlining your academic scholarship monies if you have received any.

You must plan on meeting your own educational expenses for the duration of your studies. No long term loan funds are available through the University. All students must therefore bring enough money to cover their expenses.

Married students who wish to have their families join them should realize their financial burdens. A married couple who can live inexpensively will require at least USD$5000 more per year than a single student will. Additional funds are necessary for each accompanying child for a minimum standard of living. Visas are not issued to the family of students unless they have sufficient funds for dependents in addition to the amount required for the single student. Many students find it best to delay bringing their families until they have found housing and settled in the community.

Temporary Accommodations:

If you arrive before the residence halls open, or if you plan to live off-campus and have not yet found an apartment, you may need to stay in a local motel. A list of local motels may be found here: http://wilkes.edu/pages/274.asp
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