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How Early Should an International Student Arrive Before their Program?

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How Early Should an International Student Arrive Before their Program?
 John Millar   Published On May 12, 2022 | Updated on Oct 05, 2023  Student Guide

The excitement before you head off to the USA is incomparable to any other feeling in the world. Nervousness and apprehension for the future, coupled with happiness and unadulterated excitement, make you wish you could head over to the USA as soon as you receive the acceptance letter.

But wait! Before you start making plans already, you should double-check the USA immigration regulations.

How Early Can You Arrive Legally?

Most students believe that they can head over to the USA as soon as they receive their visas. But hold your horses! Because, even though the student visas arrive at least 120 days before the start date of your program, you cannot make preparations to fly to the USA immediately.

The USA immigration regulations permit all students with an F or M visa to arrive in the country up to 30 days before the start of their program. So, if you’re planning to arrive earlier and settle in before the semester starts, you can do so only a month before classes begin.

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When Should You IDEALLY Arrive?

Now, you can legally enter the USA 30 days prior to the start of your program. But no matter how excited you are, you should ask yourself – “Is it wise to arrive so early?”

You might think, "Well, I should arrive earlier to figure out the streets and places that offer writing help in the USA.” But in reality, you don't need a month for that. Ideally, the best time to arrive in the USA is approximately a week before the program starts, right in time for orientation.

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Most orientation programs occur a week before classes begin. Hence, it’s the perfect time to arrive and figure out the streets, tour the institution, become familiar with your future classmates and figure out which seniors might be open to help with your assignment when the time comes.

Vital Pointers To Remember:

  • Avoid cutting it close to the orientation

Do not schedule a flight that's supposed to arrive in the USA a few hours before the orientation. There's no guarantee that your flight won't be delayed. So, ensure that you arrive at least 48 hours before the event.

  • Avoid arriving too early

When you arrive 2-3 weeks before the program starts, you have to arrange for separate lodging until your program starts. You can contact the university office to figure out how early you can move into the dorms. Otherwise, finding housing elsewhere right before the start of the school year would be expensive.

  • Always keep your passport, visa and admission documents safe

Your passport, visa and admission files are your lifeline. So, ensure that you don't lose your passport and other essential documents right before leaving for the USA.

In short,

The best time to arrive in the USA is 9-10 days before your program starts or 2 days before your orientation. It provides ample time to get accustomed to the new surroundings and file all paperwork before your program officially begins.

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