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I would like to bring food (i.e. milk chocolate, cookies, ...) back from my home country (France) into the US. I don't go home often, so I'd like to bring back about $200 worth of food items. I am currently a PhD student holding an F1 visa.

As the Customs and Border protection puts it:

Whether or not you are eligible for an exemption and what it will be depends on your residency status, the country you are coming from, how long you were there, what you purchased or received, the country the goods were made in, and the price paid for the goods. source

There seems to be general rules for US citizens, however:

Exemptions
Depending on the countries you have visited, your personal exemption will be $200, $800, or $1,600. source

I cannot find similar guidelines for non-resident aliens, however. I did find this:

If you are a nonresident visiting the U.S. with gifts, your personal belongings, or goods for resale, there is a possibility you will not have to pay duty. For instance, if you are visiting the U.S. for 72 hours or more you are allowed to bring up to $100 worth of goods duty-free. source

I am not sure, however, whether this depends on anything like one's visa status, or the length of one's stay beyond 72 hours, and so on.

How much can I bring back duty-free from my home country as an F1-visa holder (PhD student)?

closed as off-topic by vartec, Nean Der Thal, Vince, Karlson, Gayot Fow Nov 29 '14 at 23:39

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  • This is better fit for Expats.SE – vartec Nov 26 '14 at 21:32
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    @vartec: This is a non-immigrant visa, so I'm not sure how relevant expats.se would be. – Clément Nov 26 '14 at 23:53
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    I think you will mostly have issues with importing food. The USA is not very fond of food imports because of possible diseases and for protectionist reasons. Regarding the eligibility of expats.SE, it should be OK as it lists 1 year+ residence visas (which is your case). – Vince Nov 27 '14 at 1:52
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    help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/975/~/… This clearly explains that the visitor exemption is only $100, there is no mention of the class of goods that can be imported and it clearly says that anything above would be charged a 3% duty rate, if you dont mind paying $3, then it should be fine, I dont have an authoritative response, but the link seems fairly clear – skv Nov 27 '14 at 2:11
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    help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/82/kw/chocolates does say you are fine bringing chocolates – skv Nov 27 '14 at 2:19