Studying in the U.S.A: Travel Checklist, Immigration Process, Transportation Modes, Student Accommodation Options

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    Shahid Baig

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    After the student visa approval, a student can go to study in the U.S.A 30 days before the start date listed on the I-20/ DS-19 form. If one arrives early, then he/she would have to visit the USA on a tourist Visa and the studies can’t be started. The student would have to leave the USA and come back again on the student Visa.

    Study in the U.S.A: Travel Checklist 

    One should make a checklist of documents needed at the time of departure to avoid chaos at the last moment, the following documents should be kept handy and copy of all these in luggage:

    • Passport with a valid visa to study in the U.S.A
    • I-20/DS-19 form
    • Internet receipt verifying SEVIS fee payment
    • University offer letter & accommodation proof
    • All original academic qualifications certificates
    • Chest X-ray & Immunization Certificate (recommended) 
    • Proof of finance, Affidavit and CA statement
    • University address and contact detail

    Study in the U.S.A: Immigration Process 

    • Fill the customs declaration form before entering customs and immigration facilities at the US airport.
    • Keep all your documents handy.
    • Go to international arrivals, immigration, and customs.
    • Don’t click pictures right after landing as it may lead to interrogation and confiscation of your cell phone.
    • On reaching the immigration facilities, Go to the Passport Control/immigration counter and stand in the lane for foreign citizens.
    • Submit the passport and immigration/ customs forms to the officer on duty.
    • After validating the passports, the officer will declare admission to the US by putting an entry stamp on the passport.
    • This stamp on the Visa will act as the legal status of student visa in the USA.
    • After clearing the passport control, Go to the baggage claim section to collect your baggage and then forward to customs.
    • If you are carrying any stuff that needs to be declared, move to the red lane that reads “Goods to Declare “, else move to the green lane that says “Nothing to Declare“.
    • After completing the customs and immigration formalities, enter the International arrivals area.
    • Proceed to the university shuttles, cars or taxis prearranged for your local destination.

    Traveling in the USA for International students

    Traveling in a huge country like the USA undoubtedly needs a lot of research. Especially for international students since they have all kind of constraints from time to money. With regards to the finances there are many funding options to study in the U.S.A for international students that help in covering these. While most of us know about the tourist attractions, knowing about how to reach that spot much more necessary. There are various methods of transport in the USA. Few of them are the following:

    Renting a Bike

    • One can find bike rentals very easily in the USA and opt for a relatively cheap mode to travel in the USA.
    • On an Average, Renting a bike in the USA costs $75 per day.
    • Most college campuses in the US provide a bike rack for parking the bikes safely.


    • Public transportation in the US is pretty extensive in urban areas.
    • But buses do not run as often in rural areas and an alternative method needs to be used there.
    • Greyhound offers an inexpensive way to travel across the USA through its extensive Bus system
    • The average per person cost of traveling within cities in the USA is $7.36.

    Trains and Subways

    • Trains and Subways can be considered as Lifeline of Public transportation in the USA.
    • They are comparatively cheap of traveling in the USA.
    • The average fare of train and Subways in the USA is $2.75.
    • A bit expensive than buses, yet faster but are usually considered for traveling Long distances.

    Renting a Car in the USA

    • Renting a car in the USA is the best option for the long weekend plans.

    • Many car rentals are more than happy to rent their cars to international students.
    • The average cost of renting a car is $ 80 considering cheap car rentals.
    • The cost might vary with the types of car rented.
    • Make sure to have a valid driver’s license before renting a car to avoid any legal trouble.


    • Taxis cannot be considered as an ideal choice for international students.
    • It is very expensive as compared to other modes of transportations in the USA.
    • It should be used only to travel long distances where there are no other modes of transport available.

    Study in the U.S.A: Student Accommodation Options 

    When comes to accommodation, international students have various options to choose from. This differs depending upon the different courses and universities in the U.S.A. One can choose to depend upon the room sharing arrangement, cost, and many more factors.

    On-Campus Stay

    • On-campus housing option is available in the form of dormitories or residence halls depending upon the availability and courses opted.
    • It is a better option for international students going to the USA for the first time.
    • They are made available all utilities within the campus only.
    • Staying on campus also saves traveling time and cost as all the dorms and halls are located near the main campus.
    • The average cost of room and board is $9800 per academic year in a public 4-year college.
    • The same is $11,000 in a private 4-year college.

    Off-Campus Stay

    • It is considered the best choice who want to experience the American Culture from close.

    • It is also cheaper than on-campus dorms and residence halls.
    • The off-campus housing office of the university assists international students in finding a good housing option.
    • It also makes the students familiar with nearby restaurants, shopping malls, and other utility requirements.
    • The average cost of living in an off-campus housing facility is around $600.
    • The cost can vary largely depending on the locality and living cost in that particular locality.


    • A homestay is a good option for undergraduate students who are of 18 years of age.
    • The student is given a separate room with all the basic utilities.
    • It also gives the students a chance to mingle with the American culture in a different manner.
    • The monthly cost of a homestay for a college student is around $750-$850.

    In a nutshell, living and traveling in the U.S.A is pretty easy. A student needs to research about the travel and living options once he is through with the application process to study in the U.S.A.