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Entering the US: Forms and More for Entry in the United States

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If you are preparing to enter the United States, then you will want to review this section. Major topics are listed below.

You should familiarize yourself with the inspection process for U.S. entry and the forms involved. Despite any visa you may have received from a U.S. Consulate or Embassy, a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. A separate U.S. agency, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has authority to deny admission at the port of entry. Also, the period for which you are authorized to remain in the U.S. is determined by the CBP upon arrival, and it may not be the same period as your visa. For more information, see Inspection Process for U.S. Entry and What is a US Visa?

You may also want to review U.S. Customs information (see below), particularly if you are bringing any food, plants, or pets. Both U.S. citizens and non-citizens are restricted regarding the items they can bring with them.

If you are a temporary visitor (nonimmigrant), we have provided some helpful links below that explain how to extend your stay in the U.S., revalidate your visa, perhaps obtain a work permit, and more.

If you are living in the U.S. and have a Green Card application pending (an application for permanent residence), you should be very careful about traveling outside the U.S. before your application is approved (see Advance Parole: Foreign Travel with a Pending Green Card Immigration Application).

If you have a Green Card (are a permanent resident) and plan to be outside the U.S. for more than a year (but less than two), you will need a Reentry Permit to return to the U.S. You must apply for one before you leave the U.S. (see Green Card & Travel Outside the US: Documents and Issues for US Reentry).

Regardless of your visa or immigrant status, as a non-U.S. citizen you should be aware how to contact your country's embassy in the U.S. in case of emergency. You may also be interested in your rights as a foreign national if you are detained by law enforcement in the U.S.

Entry Process

US Visa Forms, Wait Times, and Status

Nearest US Consulate

US Customs Information

Temporary Visitors (Nonimmigrants)

Green Card Holders (Permanent Residents, Immigrants)

Other Important Information

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A Service of  A Service of The National Association of Foreign-Born
The National Association of Foreign-Born