8: Travel and Transportation

What to Expect at the Airport

When you leave the airplane and go through immigration when you enter the United States, you will need to show your passport (which should have your visa stamped in it) and I-20 form (for students on F-1 visas) or DS-2019 form (for students on J-1 visas) to the immigration officer. Students from the Compact of Free Association nations do not need a visa or an I-20 or DS-2019 form. The immigration officer at the airport when you enter the U.S. may ask you some questions. The most common questions are “What is the purpose of your visit to the United States” and “How long do you plan to stay?”

Some students may be directed to a private area (sometimes called “secondary inspection”) to provide additional information and complete a short interview. If you are required to go to this private area, the immigration officer will access certain computer databases to verify your status and he/she may also call UH Hilo to confirm your information. Going to the private area sometimes causes delays. So when you book your connecting flight from the airport where you arrive in the U.S. to your next destination, it is a good idea to give yourself enough time just in case you have to go the private area.