Immigration and Customs
You may arrive in the U.S. up to thirty days before the program start date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. Be sure to carry the following documents in your carry-on luggage: passport valid for at least six months into the future, valid F-1 or J-1 visa, Form I-20 or DS-2019 with your signature on the first page, acceptance letter from Stevens, proof of financial support for your studies; do not put these documents in your checked baggage, as you will be required to show some or all of them when you go through Customs. When you arrive in the U.S., you will be asked to complete a Form I-94. It will ask you for your name, date of birth, and country of citizenship. Please make sure that you write your date of birth as month then day then year and the parts of your name in the correct places. When you pass through Customs, your I-94 and I-20 or DS-2019 will both be stamped with the date you entered, your immigration status (either F-1 or J-1), and D/S for duration of status. If any of this information is incorrect or missing on your I-94, I-20, or DS-2019, please contact an immigration officer to make sure you get it corrected before leaving the airport so that you don’t have to go back to the airport to do so later.
Orientation and Getting Adjusted
After you are accepted to Stevens, you will receive information and instructions about new student check-in and orientation. Please follow these instructions carefully, as it is mandatory that you check-in with the ISSS office at the beginning of your first semester in order to maintain your immigration status. During orientation, you will receive information about the policies and regulations related to your F-1 or J-1 student status as well as information about your classes, health insurance, student ID, and various other services Stevens provides.
Social Security Number and Stevens ID
In order to be paid for any form of employment either on or off campus, it is necessary to have a Social Security number, which is a primary form of identification in the U.S. You should be aware that a Social Security number does NOT authorize you to accept employment off-campus. If you are a student in F-1 or J-1 status, accepting unauthorized off-campus employment is a violation of your immigration status.
If you do not have an SSN, Stevens will give you a temporary number that begins with “999;” this is an identification number that Stevens uses for internal records and is not a Social Security Number. You should not use your Stevens ID number anywhere off campus.
Getting a Bank Account
Having a bank account is an essential part of living in the United States. A bank account allows you to safely store your money and withdraw it easily when you need it. Most banks have accounts especially for students that require only a small deposit to be opened and don’t have a monthly or yearly fee. Banks will usually give you a set of checks and a debit card (which acts like a credit card but only allows you to withdraw money you have in your account) when you open your account. Stevens has a special agreement with PNC Bank; visit here for information about its services: https://www.pnc.com/webapp/unsec/Gateway.do?siteArea=/pnccorp/PNC/Home.
To open a bank account, you will need the following documents:
- Passport with visa stamp
- Form I-20, DS-2019, or I-797 with I-94
After opening your account, there may be a short waiting period before you can access your funds; you should keep some cash on hand to use until your other funds are available.
Getting a Driver’s License
You should have the following documents with you when applying for a New Jersey driver’s license, driver’s permit, or state ID card:
- Valid international driver’s license, if you have one- (You will not be required to take the driving portion of the test [only the written portion] if you have an international driver’s license.)
- Valid passport
- Valid I-94 (white card)
- Valid Certificate of Eligibility to correspond with nonimmigrant status:
- F-1/F-2: valid I-20, J-1/J-2: valid DS-2019, H-1/H-4: valid I-797
- Proof of address (bills, checkbook, bank statement, or university letter)
- Student ID and proof of enrollment (recent acceptance letter or official transcript)
- Social Security Card (if you have one). If you are not eligible for a Social Security card, you must get a letter from the Social Security office stating your ineligibility.
For more information, you can call the Department of Motor Vehicles at 1-888-486-3339, or visit their website: http://www.state.nj.us/mvc/. If you live in NY and are attending/working at Stevens, you may have difficulty in obtaining a driver’s license in either NY or NJ.
A driver’s license is commonly used as a form of identification in the United States. If you will not be driving but want an American form of identification, ask for a state ID card instead of a driver’s license; your passport also serves as official identification.