I-94 cards are no longer issued for students entering by air (only land borders issue the white I-94 cards). Most students will have electronic I-94 records. Your passport should be stamped and notated with admitted as F-1 or J-1 for “D/S.” D/S stands for “Duration of Status.” Sometimes the officers forget to add the “D/S” but that should be part of your electronic I-94 record. Go to the CBP I-94 website to view your I-94 record. If your I-94 record indicates D/S, there is nothing to be concerned about. You should print out and keep each arrival for your records from the site. You may also need a paper copy as evidence of your status for other purposes such as employment eligibility on campus.
ONCE YOU LAND
It is to your advantage to know exactly what to expect at the passport control. Some Immigration inspectors may be less familiar with student documents than others and occasionally make mistakes. The immigration inspector has to check your passport, visa and the I-20 form (if you’re on F-1 visa) or DS-2019 form (if you’re on J-1 visa).
If you are coming with your spouse and/or children, the same attentiveness to the processing of their admission applies. Dependents of F-1 students should enter as “F-2 for D/S”; dependents of J-1 students should enter as “J-2 for D/S.”
WHEN LEAVING THE AIRPORT
Don’t let anyone offer you a cab — take a yellow cab ONLY. Other drivers may overcharge you, or are not insured. There is a $45 flat taxi fare from JFK to anywhere in Manhattan (excluding highway tolls – an additional $3-$4 – and tip, usually 15%).
Taxis from Newark Airport to Manhattan are usually more expensive since they run on meter (no flat fare). Alternatively, for $15 you can take a shuttle which will drive you to your door. You will share this ride with other passengers, so expect it to take at least an hour (details at the ground transportation desk in both airports).
WITHIN YOUR FIRST WEEK
All new students in F-1 or J-1 status must complete an online check-in with the International ISSO within 7 days of arrival in the U.S. by submitting this form: https://www1.columbia.edu/sec/cu/isso/new_arrival_check_in.html. The ISSO is required by law to report your arrival to Columbia University by updating your student record in the government database (SEVIS).
ISSO (International Student and Scholars Office) Hours
The ISSO at 524 Riverside Drive is open from 10:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. The office is closed on Wednesdays. No appointment necessary.