WASHINGTON — As international travel increases and students throughout the country prepare to study abroad this summer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encourages students to “Know Before You Go” when traveling to the United States or returning home from their studies.
CBP encourages students to plan ahead to ensure a smooth and efficient travel experience. This includes having the appropriate passport and any other associated travel documents ready when approaching a CBP officer for processing or visiting a foreign country. In addition, students will take a photo to verify their identity through the touchless facial biometric process known as Simplified Arrival at entry to further secure and streamline travel into the United States. Information on travel resources, visas, and other country-specific information can be found on the Department of State website.
Non-U.S. citizens traveling to the United States for educational opportunities may also download the free CBP One mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play and complete an electronic I-94 form up to seven days before their trip. The feature provides a more convenient way for travelers to apply for an I-94, review their past travel history, check their I-94 expiration date and obtain proof of their electronic I-94 from their mobile device. The I-94 is the record of arrival and departure issued to visiting or transiting persons to the United States except U.S. citizens, returning foreign visitors, foreign visitors with immigrant visas, and most Canadian citizens. Students who must prove their legal-visitor status to schools or universities can access their CBP arrival/departure record information from CBP One or the I-94 website.
Although having an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization is not a requirement to enter the United States through a land border, citizens and nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries must have an active ESTA to use the CBP One I-94 Apply feature. CBP encourages these travelers to obtain an approved ESTA to take advantage of the time savings offered by using CBP One or the CBP I-94 website. With an ESTA, these travelers can apply for their I-94 in advance of arrival and avoid filling out the Form I-94W at a port of entry.
Once students arrive at their study abroad destinations, CBP advises against attempting to bring food products, especially pork and beef, into the United States. Doing so can have an adverse impact on U.S. livestock and food supply. Agricultural products from abroad including soil contamination on shoes from a farm visit or open-air market may carry foreign animal diseases (FADs) such as African swine fever or foot-and-mouth disease, or plant pests such as the Asian gypsy moth, that are not in the United States. The introduction of these FADs and plant pests can lead to higher grocery bills, food shortages, and devastating losses to U.S. farmers and ranchers.
While students are not prohibited from visiting farms or open-air markets, CBP advises that they clean their shoes, clothing, and any purchases made during the visit. Some foods can be taken home to the United States, but must be declared on a Customs form. Failure to do so can result in stiff financial penalties. Students can confirm which foods can enter the United States by visiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture website. For example, meats and some cheeses from cattle, pigs, sheep and goats cannot be brought into the United States.
On a typical day, CBP agriculture specialists detected and seized 3,091 prohibited plant, meat, animal byproducts and soil, and intercepted 250 insect pests at U.S. airports, seaports and land border ports. If just one of these prohibited items had entered the U.S., it could have caused a catastrophic outbreak and cost billions in revenue loss. African swine fever, for example, can potentially cause an $8 billion loss in pork revenue and $3 billion in beef revenue in addition to $4 billion in corn revenue and $1.5 billion in soybeans.
As international travel increases, travelers should expect heavy traffic. Planning ahead and adopting these travel tips can save time and reduce stress so students can have a more meaningful and enjoyable study experience.