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I am traveling from Australia to the United States of America. I was told by my University admissions officials to expect some sort of questionnaire from the security officers about my purpose in America and so on.

Also, do I have carry with me some sort of documents showing my admission status, living address and such? Will you also include in your answer a general outline of what to expect when I arrive at the airport?

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    I would say that as a general rule of thumb the more documentation you have the easier it is to explain your situation. – JoErNanO Nov 4 '14 at 13:53
  • @JoErNanO Carrying them around would be a hassle though, wouldn't it? – Renae Lider Nov 4 '14 at 13:58
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    Not really: slip a copy of your proof of acceptance/letter of admission in a plastic sleeve, tuck that in the laptop pocket of your backpack and then forget about it until your immigration check comes up. ;) Clearly I am not saying you should carry all the documentation you can possibly think of. Keep it simple. – JoErNanO Nov 4 '14 at 14:00
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It's not security who will ask, it's the immigration officers on arrival. If you have applied for and received a student visa, you will show it when you get there and be all set. If you're looking for more of a visa-on-arrival (like the B1/B2 I get when I briefly visit the USA from Canada) then your questions (and the paperwork to back up your answer) will be things like:

  • Where are you headed within the USA?
  • Why?
  • How long will you be here for?
  • Do you intend to work? If not, how will you support yourself?

If you have a scholarship or stipend or the like, bring proof of that. If there is a year's worth of money already in your bank account for you to live on, bring proof of that (just print your account summary and bring the printout.) If you've arranged somewhere to live, bring proof of that. If you've already got your homebound ticket, bring proof of that.

I don't know if you can arrive as a student without the visa in advance. This is the most important thing you need to know. Your admissions office should be able to help you with that. If you need the visa, start getting it now.

The US Customs and Border Patrol have a helpful page that explains the various visas, and what paperwork you need to bring. This includes items that you should have on your person (not in your checked luggage) and at least one item that will be given to you in a sealed envelope when you get your advance visa and should not be opened before you reach the immigration desk. Make sure you understand everything on that page well, including the process of getting the visa in advance if you need it.

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