Entering the U.S.

Certificate of eligibility

A certificate of eligibility is used to apply for the appropriate visa status to enter the United States. These certificates of eligibility correspond to the following visa types:

  • Form I-20: Used to apply for a student visa in the F category
  • Form DS-2019: Used to apply for a student visa in the J category

When you receive your certificate of eligibility, please review it to ensure all information is correct and matches what is listed on your passport. If any information needs to be changed or added, contact the MU office that issued your document:

  • International Student and Scholar Services | isss@missouri.edu or +1 573-882-6007
    • Undergraduate students
    • Graduate students with Form DS-2019
  • Graduate School | gradadmissions@missouri.edu or +1 573-882-6311
    • Graduate students with Form I-20

Please see the U.S. Department of State website for additional information about how to apply for your student visa.

U.S. port of entry procedures

Once you have successfully obtained your visa, you may enter the United States. F and J visa holders may enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date listed on their I-20/DS-2019.

When you arrive in the U.S., officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection will review your documents at the port of entry before you are admitted into the country. You should have the following documents ready to present:

  • Passport: A biographical booklet issued by your home government to allow you to travel to other countries and return to your home country. Make sure your passport is valid at least six months into the future. Customs and Border Protection will review your passport and visa. They will stamp your passport to indicate the date and place you arrived in the United States.
  • Certificate of eligibility: You must show the office the certificate of eligibility for the school you plan to attend.

At the port of entry, you will also be issued an I-94 record. This is an electronic record of your arrival into the United States. This record will indicate your visa type and duration of status (D/S) — you should confirm that your I-94 record lists your correct visa type. This record means you are allowed to remain in the U.S. as long as you maintain your status. You can access your I-94 record online.

Customs and Border Protection has the authority to deny admission into the United States. If you have difficulties entering the U.S., contact the MU Police Department at +1 573-882-7201 and they will put you in contact with an International Student and Scholar Services staff member.