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Arrival in the United States

Arrival in the United States

Follow the instructions provided by your camp in order to determine which airport to fly into. Please bring a minimum of $500 USD to cover travel expenses, food, etc. We know you may be nervous when you get off the plane or unsure about where you should go. Just follow the instructions you have been given. The airport will have clear signs to tell you where everything is, so be sure to pay attention to them.

 

Your travel instructions will be listed in your account at CampUSA.org/login once you have been matched with a camp. Review them, and contact your camp director if you have questions about how to get to camp. There are often multiple transportation options from the airport. Taxi service is often expensive if you are on a budget, so if you opt to take a taxi, make sure you have enough money for your other expenses. Read the travel directions carefully, and don’t hesitate to ask airport employees for assistance if you are confused.

Upon arrival at the Airport

When you first arrive at the airport you should check into your airline and receive your flight ticket. At the same time you should also check your baggage, if necessary. Make sure any important items, such as your travel documents and money, are in your carry-on that will stay with you. Any items that go into your checked baggage cannot be accessed until you arrive at your final destination. You will then move on to security. As you come up to security you will need to place all of the items with you on the conveyor belt. Small items should be placed in bins. If you are bringing a laptop with you, you will need to take it out and place it into a bin of its own. Each traveler must remove their quart-sized plastic, zip-top bag of liquids from their carry-on and place it in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray screening. X-raying separately will allow security officers to more easily examine the declared items.

You will also need to remove your shoes, belts, watches, coats or sweaters and place them into a bin as well. As your items are being checked you will go through a metal detector or a body scanner to check what you may have on your body. This requires you to step into an open machine and raise your arms while the machine scans your body. The process is very quick.

If you have a layover to change flights once you have entered the U.S. from abroad, you should remember that you typically need to receive and re-check your baggage before your next flight.

Once off the plane, you will immediately go to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to gain admission to the U.S. You will tell the CBP officer you are a J-1 Exchange Visitor when you present your documents. You should be prepared to answer questions about where your camp is and how long you will be in the United States. Remember, the border officer you speak with ultimately has the final decision about whether or not to admit you into the United States, so have your information ready and be polite and honest.

When CBP’s inspection is complete the officer may stamp your passport. For up-to-date information on clearing Customs, check with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

If you are arriving earlier or later than camp suggested, you will likely need accommodation before you can arrive at camp or before they pick you up. This must be planned and reserved in advance.

If your camp has instructed you to fly into New York City, we suggest that you arrive a day or two early. Hostelling International (located at 891 Amsterdam Ave) is our suggested hostel if you choose to arrive early. Reservations will be at your own expense and should be made well in advance. Reservations can be made at their website.

If you’re looking for hostels or accommodation outside of New York, be sure to check out our Affordable U.S. Hostels and Special Discounts for recommendations.

If your camp is not meeting you at the airport, you will have to pay for any bus or train tickets to camp. Make sure you bring enough money to cover that cost. Save your receipt and give it to your camp upon arrival if they offer to reimburse for bus or train tickets.

Once you have arrived at camp, you must log in to your InterExchange account to let us know you are there! 

Your arrival check in has three parts. You must complete all three parts in order for InterExchange to activate you in SEVIS. First, confirm that you have arrived at camp. Second, confirm the U.S. Address you will be living at for the summer. This is most likely your camp’s physical address. You will also need to include a U.S. Phone number – it is okay if you do not have a number yet, you can use camp’s phone number. Last, you need to confirm the job you will be working for the summer. Once you have completed these steps, InterExchange will activate you in SEVIS within the next 24 to 72 hours. Your dashboard will show that you are active in SEVIS once this is complete. You will not be able to apply for your Social Security Number until you are active in SEVIS. 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will document your arrival upon entry to the United States by sea or plane through your electronic I-94 record (DHS Arrival/Departure Record). Participants arriving by car (most common with Canadian or Mexican participants) will still be given a paper copy of this document.

CBP will make your electronic I-94 record available at their website. You can access and print your I-94 by visiting that site, clicking “Get Most Recent I-94,” and entering your information as it appears on your passport and visa. You should keep this printed copy with you when applying for important documents like your Social Security Number or other forms of identification in the U.S.

If you are not able to access your I-94 record online, you may need to wait a few more days for the CBP to process your arrival information. If this occurs, please check back periodically and reference the How to Use the Website and Questions/Complaints section on the website, or contact the CBP office directly.

If information on your I-94 record is incorrect, please visit a local CBP Deferred Inspection Site or port of entry. You can locate the closest CBP Deferred Inspection Site here. 

The CBP will record your departure from the U.S. using information gathered at the time of your arrival into the U.S.; you do not need to present your printed I-94 record when leaving the U.S.

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