Pre-Arrival Information and to-do list

To be done in advance

Some things have to be done in advance, i.e., as soon as you get your official documents

  • Learn typing
  • Learn driving- get an International Driving license
  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months.
  • Get a medical checkup and have your health form filled out completely.
  • Get prescriptions & medicines for all common ailments (the technical name of the medicine along with US brand name).
  • Have your teeth checked and do any dental work that needs to be done.
  • get your eye-sight checked - get a new prescription if needed. Buy at least one extra pair of glasses or contacts.
  • Be tested for TB if possible (chest X-ray). If this is not done in advance, you will be required to do this after you arrive.
  • Get all required immunizations.


  • Start your packing well in advance, buy two good suitcases - they should be able to withstand a lot of mishandling. They should be as large as possible within the size limitations.
  • Put identification marks and labels both inside and outside the bags. It helps when you are picking up your luggage at the airport, if you put some kind of noticeable markings on your luggage. (i.e...stickers, ribbons, bright colored name labels, etc...).

Items to put in your checked baggage

  • copies of all certificates/documents (originals in your hand baggage)
  • necessary books/notebooks (some suggested books are - a good dictionary/thesaurus, a booklet for unit conversions).
  • copy of address book/telephone book/diary
  • medical history files - get a full physical check up and get necessary immunization done at home otherwise you will have to get one done here and could be expensive .
  • soap (bath), toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc for immediate use.

Pack in hand baggage

  • Some medicines (including for air-sickness)
  • Novel/magazines/books for in-flight reading
  • Original important documents (I-20, visa, tickets ...)--- best if kept on you at all times- you never know what you can lose at an airport and you better not lose these.
  • Money (little cash, traveler's' checks)
  • Address book/phone book
  • Copies of your photo (passport size)
  • Steps to be followed in case of emergency (accident, theft, etc)
  • Things needed to survive for a week in case luggage gets misplaced (two sets of clothes, valuables, addresses, etc.)

Keep with you (in pockets, purse, etc.)

  • Shorter extract of emergency contacts
  • Important information about anyone who is to pick you up at the airport
  • Receipt that you got with your traveler's checks - in case you lose them

Leave at home

  • List of addresses/phone numbers where you can be reached
  • A copy of all your important documents (Passport, Visa, I-20 and Medical Records)
  • A few blank signed papers - in case your parents need to handle important business on your behalf while you are away.

In the last week before your flight

  • Call up to find out if there is any delay or change of schedule of the plane (inform the people coming to pick you up of any such change)
  • Rest well. Be ready to face the long journey and jet lag.

On the day of the flight/in-flight

  • Wear something comfortable, it will be a long flight.
  • Be at the airport 3-4 hours before flight departure.
  • Collect $20-$50 cash at the airport (part of it in $1).
  • Relax during flight, sleep as much as possible.
  • For vegetarians: You will need to let the flight attendant know before you are served so you aren't served a non-vegetarian food.
  • Don't hesitate to talk to people to ask questions.

Port of Entry Procedures

  • Sometime before landing, the flight attendant will distribute "Customs Declaration Forms" and "Immigration Forms" as mentioned below. Fill these out on the plane (you will submit them to the appropriate authorities when you land). Do not hesitate to take the flight attendant's help.
  • You can indicate that you have nothing to declare & total value of all your things is less than $100 on the customs form.
  • Form I-94 — fill in the plane. After seeing your documents immigration officer will indicate length of stay, University, etc. This will be attached to your passport.
  • Important: note the expiration date and D/S (duration of status).
  • Form I-20 — all transactions regarding your non- immigrant status will be recorded on this form and in SEVIS. This should be retained at all times (not surrendered when you temporarily leave the US).
  • Just before you land the correct local time will be announced — set your watch!
  • Once you are out of the plane go straight to the immigration counter — move quickly to avoid long lines. It might take 30 minutes to an hour here. Keep your I-20, passport, admission letter ready. They might ask a few questions like, "Is this your first time in the US?", "Student?", "F-1 visa?", "Which university?"
  • They will attach an I-94 card to your visa.

You are now in the USA!

  • Go to the baggage claim area to fetch your luggage. Pick up your bags as they come out on the conveyor (suitable eye-catching labels help here).
  • If you don't get your baggage go to the inquiry section. Do not leave the airport without filling out a lost luggage claim.
  • Cart your baggage to nearby Customs. If asked, tell them that you are a student with an F-1 visa for the University of Indianapolis, coming to US for the first time.
  • If asked to open the baggage, do so slowly. Note : In most cases you will NOT be asked to open your bags at all and will be simply waived through.
  • Now look for the INDY connection counter on the lower level of the Airport. No reservation is required. Just present them with you INDY connection voucher which we sent you with the I-20. (Indy Connection is only allowed to bring you to the University of Indianapolis, or to a nearby hotel.) Once taken to the destination, a small gratuity is highly appreciated (around $3).

After you reach the University

  • Your first task is to meet the staff in the International Services. Take your passport, visa, I-20 and health record with you so they can make copies of them
  • Register for classes (if you have not done so already)
  • Meet your International Student Advisor as well as your Academic Advisor.
  • Get your University ID Card.
  • Set up your University of Indianapolis email account (this cannot be done until after your ID card has been issued).
  • Attend the mandatory orientation for International Students.