Once you receive your international student visa (F-1 or J-1), start preparing for your arrival to UALR! Below we’ll give you information about booking your flights, packing for your trip to the US, tips on how to navigate airport security and information about arriving to the US in general and Little Rock in particular.
The visa for international students (F and J) will permit you to enter the country within 30 days of the program start date listed on your I-20/DS-2019. We recommend you arrive at least 2-3 days prior to International Student Orientation. Keep the following information in mind:
Bill and Hilary Clinton National Airport (LIT) is the closest airport to UALR.
You should arrive between 30- 7 days before classes begin. Keep in mind when your housing arrangements begin before booking your flight.
Check the academic calendar at UALR.edu/www/events for the semester end dates before booking your return flight. Students living on campus will also need to be aware of when university housing closes at the end of the semester.
Documents in Hand
The following documents and items should be easily accessible throughout your travels. Do not pack the following documents in your checked baggage. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will be unable to present the documents at your port of entry. As a result, you may not be able to enter the United States. We also encourage you to make a copy of the paperwork below and keep them in a separate location in case the originals are lost.
- Your passport, which should be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay
- Form I-20 or DS-2019 signed by international advisor and student
- Admission letter
- Evidence of financial resources
- Receipt for the SEVIS fee, available at https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.jsp
- Suggested $100 cash per person in USD for expenses throughout travel
- Suggested $10 in change for luggage trolley
- International Student Services (ISS) office information
Check your airline for bag number and weight limit for your trip. If you exceed these limits, you may face high charges. When making decisions on what to take and what to leave behind, focus on things to help you in your first few days in the U.S. and items that are unavailable in Little Rock. For example, you will not need a year’s supply of soap, but you might want to stock your luggage with special spices to cook your favorite meals.
You will want to strategically pack two different types of luggage – Checked and Carry-On. Checked luggage is larger and you will not have access until your final destination. Carry-On luggage is smaller and will remain with you throughout your journey.
Be sure to pack:
- Traditional clothing for special events like holidays and International Celebration Day!
- An electrical adapter
- Items that remind you of home
- Small, inexpensive gifts for special people you meet while in the U.S.
Packing your carry-on luggage is one of the most important preparations in your trip. Unfortunately, airlines often misplace checked luggage, especially if you experience any delays or flight changes throughout your travels. Usually this luggage is found within a 24-48 hours, but you do not want to be without essentials in your first few days in the U.S.
A good carry-on bag will include:
- Easily accessible flight itinerary, tickets, passport and immigration documents
- Contact information for UALR and friends in Little Rock or other cities you will visit
- Necessary medication in original containers along with prescriptions from the doctor
- Toiletries: Shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, hand sanitizer
- A fresh change of clothes in case of delays or lost luggage
DO NOT take on the airplane either on your person or in your carry-on:
- Weapons of any kind including: guns, knives, explosives, chemicals or items used for self-defense
- Sharp objects
- Liquid exceeding 100 milliliters
- Tools or sporting goods
Before you enter the U.S. or get on your plane, there are certain security procedures every traveler has to go through. This page will inform you about the security process within the U.S. For more info directly from the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) visit http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information.
Throughout your trip, and especially once you enter the U.S, you will experience high airport security. TSA agents will conduct security checks before you board the plane. Remember that all of these security measures are to protect your safety while traveling.
Arriving in the U.S.
While on the airplane, flight attendants will distribute Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) which must be completed prior to landing. Your port of entry into the United States will be one of several major airport hubs, often Chicago, Los Angeles or Dallas. At this point you will pass through customs inspection area. You may also go through secondary inspection if instructed. Collect your baggage if applicable and find the terminal for your connecting flight.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are no longer collecting paper I-94 cards. Instead, your I-94 information is available online after your arrival. You may print your I-94 if desired from https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html.
Port of Entry
Proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers. Have the following documents available for presentation: your passport; Form I-20 or DS-2019; and Customs Declaration Form (CF-6059).
Upon entering the United States, you must state your reason for wishing to enter the country. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the CBP Officer that you will be a student. Be prepared to include the ISS office information and your degree major program(s).
Once your inspection is successfully completed, the inspecting officer will stamp your passport with the date and port of entry.
The U.S. is a Credit-based Society
Once you arrive in the U.S, you will want to have around $100 in USD cash and have access to a credit card for larger purchases. Most stores and vendors will accept foreign credit cards issued through Visa, Mastercard or Discover. Check with your credit card company before you leave to find out the out-of-country fees and alert them of your intention to travel. For your safety, do not travel with large amonts of money. Carrying more than $200 in cash is unsafe.
Eat a Meal
When you first arrive in the United States, you will go through a hub in a major city. This may be your last opportunity for a proper meal and to change currency into U.S. Dollars.
Arriving in Little Rock
Your final destination will be the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (LIT). UALR is about 20 minutes from LIT by car. If you would like free and friendly transportation, contact the International Friendship Outreach (IFO) at least 2 weeks before your arrival. Visit IFOArkansas.org to request free transportation! IFO is a wonderful group of community members who would love to get to know you and be a friend for you while you are in the United States.
Collecting your Checked Luggage
Once you arrive to LIT, collect your checked luggage. If you had a delay or change in your flight itinerary, your luggage may not arrive with your flight. If your luggage is missing, file a lost baggage claim with your airline. They will ask for a phone number and address where they will deliver the luggage upon arrival. If you do not have other contact information, you may use the information for International Student Services. Be sure to email us to let us know to expect your luggage. The office is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am – 5:00pm.
Report to International Student Services
Students should report to International Student Services within 10 days of arrival. The office is located in the Education 101 building on campus. When you check in, bring your passport, I-20 or DS-2019 and I-94. Once you have registered for class and updated your U.S. address in BOSS, an international advisor will activate your immigration record in SEVIS.