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You’ve landed in the United States! It’s exciting to finally have arrived, but there is still a long way to go before you finally enter the United States. Here are some tips for you to understand the process of the Transfer and Security Check and Board of Control when you enter the US.
Although a Direct Flight might be your ideal choice, sometimes we have to do some transfers to get to our final destination.
Transfer Domestically in China
Most likely you need to re-check in your luggage if you transfer domestically in China. There will be no shortcuts for transfer flights and you’ll have to line up again. Therefore, the recommended layover time is at least 2.5 hours.
Transfer Internationally other than the US or Canada
If you fly with Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airlines, China Airlines, Japanese Airlines, ANA, Emirates, or other similar Airlines, you will probably make a transfer in one of the major cities these airlines operate, like Seoul, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, or Dubai. If your connecting flight is operated by the same airline or his partner, you would not need to re-check in your luggage as it will go to your final destination. Yay!
The screening line for transfers is usually not too long. In this case, we recommend to have about a least 1-2 hours for transfering. If you want to do some shopping during your layover stop, plan some more time then!
Transfer in the US or Canada
Sometimes you make a transfer domestically, and enter the US in the first US destination you stop in. Regardless that you are transferring, you will need to take out the luggage and drop it again right after before going to the Board of Control and TSA security check. The TSA security check can take some time, so we recommend that you make sure to have at least have 2 hours for transfers.
Remember: you can always ask the ground staff to confirm where your luggage is going to be directed to, where to drop your luggage, or where to catch connecting flights.
TSA Security Check
You’ll need to pass through TSA security check before boarding.
There are some things you need to pay attention to.
- The liquid you take on board needs to be less than 100ml and be placed in a clear plastic bag. You’re allowed to bring food on board as well.
- Your computers and other electronic devices need to be taken out of your bags and placed in separate bins for security check.
- You don’t have to take your power bank, chargers or small electronics (like an iPhone) out separately.
- You also don’t have to take out your umbrella.
- Be sure to take off your coat and your shoes as well.
- Raise your hands above your head when passing through the body scanner. Wait for instructions from the officer before entering or leaving the scanner.
Pass the Customs and Board of Protection
Visitors and students will need to get their information verified by a Board of Protection officer at the first destination you enter in the US or Canada.
Be sure to have your filled-out Customs Declaration Form, passport, and i20 with you. Students and scholars with the F1 visa cannot use Automatic Passport Control (APC) machines. If your parents have a B1/B2 visa and come to visit you in the States for a second time, don’t forget to help them register in the EVUS system. At that point, they’ll be able to go through the APC machines for a faster process.
These lines can be really long. Thus, it’s a good idea to choose a seat in the front of your plane so you can get out quickly.
Some questions you may get from the Board of Protection:
Where are you going to school? Which year are you in? What is your major?
How much cash do you have with you?
Where have you been before coming to the US?
Are you bringing any meat or fruits with you?
Tips for you to answer these questions:
Be honest, and answer what they ask in simple sentences.
If you cannot understand the question, don’t guess. Tell the officer that you don’t understand, and they will send someone to help you.
There are some students that have said they have been sent to an office for further inspection. If this happens to you, don’t panic! This may include an officer asking you a few more questions and opening up your luggage or checking your phone. If you are not feeling secure enough, clean up all the history in your Messenger.
And that’s it! Now you’re here in the US. Congratulations!