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I'm traveling to the US from Norway on F-1 visa. I just received this generic e-mail from the Airline.

If you are a non-US citizen or resident flying to the US, you must be able to provide proof of a return flight to US Immigrations upon arrival. Failure to do so may mean that you are denied entry into the US.

I have purchased one way ticket, because I plan to return after one year and unsure about the dates, and I'm worried after reading this email. Do I need to buy a return ticket?

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No, you do not need a return ticket.

Entry to the US requires a return ticket (with a destination to somewhere other than Canada/Mexico) when you are entering the US under the Visa Waiver Program (ie, using an ESTA). This is obviously not relevant for you as you have a visa.

When entering using a short-term visa, such as a B1/B2 visa a return ticket is recommended, but not required.

When entering using most other visas, including an F-1 visa, a return ticket is NOT required at all.

To some extent, the statement you've quoted does actually cover your situation, in that once you land you will be becoming a US resident (a temporary resident, but still a resident) - so no return ticket is required. That said, it's still not a correct statement if only because it does not cover B1/B2 visas.

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  • "resident" has a specific meaning under US immigration law, and F visa holders do not fall into it, but your answer is otherwise correct that no return ticket should be needed here.
    – mlc
    Dec 31, 2022 at 20:43
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    @mlc "residence" is defined in US immigration law as "the place of general abode; the place of general abode of a person means his principal, actual dwelling place in fact, without regard to intent." It's perfectly possible that an F visa holder could be a resident of the US under this definition.
    – phoog
    Dec 31, 2022 at 22:20
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    @mlc They may not be a "permanent resident", but they are still a "resident". Speaking from personal experience as someone that lived in the US for >10 years on a non-immigrant visa.
    – Doc
    Jan 1, 2023 at 1:14

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