You must enter the U.S. and start your work period on the start date of your DS-2019 Form. Be sure to notify GEC if your travel plans do not meet this requirement so that your SEVIS record can be adjusted if necessary.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection:

When you arrive from your international destination to your first entry point in the U.S., you will need to clear U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP). Please be aware that a U.S. visa in your passport does not guarantee entry into the United States, and the process may take up to 60 minutes or longer. The Department of Homeland Security Officer may ask you questions, so be sure to answer them accurately and truthfully.

When you deplane, follow the signs directing you to international arrivals, immigration and customs.

  • Passport with J-1 visa & DS-2019 Form – Present these documents to the CBP officer who will ask you to state the reason you wish to enter the U.S. and will ask you to provide information about your final destination. Your passport will be stamped. It is no longer necessary for the CBP officer to stamp your DS-2019 Form. Make sure the CBP officer returns your original DS-2019 Form to you before you leave Customs & Border Protection.
  • Failure to present your DS-2019 Form to the CBP officer will only allow you 30 days to be in the U.S. If this happens to you, contact GEC immediately for assistance. Additional processing will be needed to properly document your status. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN! Please note that a valid visa is needed only when entering the U.S. The visa does not grant you work status.
  • Electronic Form I-94 – Under the Customs and Border Protection process, a CBP officer will provide each admitted nonimmigrant traveler with an admission stamp in their passport that includes the date of admission, class of admission, and admitted until date. To retrieve your Admission (I-94) Number, go to https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/. The record will remain available to you for the duration of your stay in the U.S. The availability of the record does not give you legal authority to remain in the U.S. outside the terms and conditions of your program. CBP will record your departure using manifest information obtained from the air carrier.
    entering the USA
  • Evidence of financial resources – If you are asked, you must be able to show the CBP Officer proof of sufficient funds to cover your initial expenses.
  • GEC Work Agreement – You may be asked questions regarding the purpose of your visit to the U.S. and what you will be doing during your program. Your GEC Work Agreement has details of your work address, contact details and program activities. It should be presented to the CBP officer if more evidence is requested from you. The officer may want to contact your work company site of activity to verify your details.
  • US-VISIT – You will be required to be digitally fingerprinted and photographed by the CBP officer. Collecting this information helps immigration officers determine whether a person is eligible to enter the U.S. The biometric collection process is simple, convenient and secure.
  • Insurance Details – You are covered under a J-1 compliant medical insurance policy. If you need access to the insurance details during your trip, please refer to the insurance information found in your online GEC record or contact GEC for assistance.

Baggage Claim

After you clear Customs & Border Protection, follow the signs to Baggage Claim. Here, you will pick up your checked baggage even if you have another flight to connecting flight. If your bags have been lost by the airline, report this immediately to the baggage desk so they can deliver your luggage to you when it arrives. Make sure you have a delivery address and phone number where you can be reached. Keep a copy of the claim report you file with the airline for your records.

Customs / Connecting Flights

Once you have claimed your bags, your next stop is at Customs

  • Prior to arriving at the port of entry, each traveler is handed a U.S. Customs Declaration. For information on prohibited and restricted items, please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website at https://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/know-before-you-go/prohibited-and-restricted-items.
  • If you do not have any items to declare, proceed to the lanes marked “Nothing to Declare.” If you have items to declare, proceed to the lanes marked “Goods to Declare”. Here, you will turn in your customs form.
  • If you have another flight to connect with, follow the signs marked “Connecting Flights/ Connecting Baggage Drop-off” as you leave the Customs area. After dropping off your luggage, continue following the signs marked Connecting Flights and proceed through security to the departures area.
  • If you are already at your final destination, follow the exit and ground transportation signs.


  • If you have prescription drugs with you, make sure they are clearly marked in the original containers. Be sure to verify with the airline the quantities and types of medications that you are allowed to bring into the U.S.
  • Do not bring alcohol into the U.S. unless you are at least 21 years old.
  • View the FAA website for more travel tips. www.faa.gov.
  • Keep an eye on your belongings. Don’t leave anything unattended or with a stranger, particularly at airports or terminals.
  • When exchanging money, only deal with authorized agents.
  • To limit the inconveniences in the case of lost luggage, keep all of the items you would need for a week’s stay in your carry-on luggage.
  • Make sure you print your name and address on identification tags and put them inside and outside your luggage.
  • Contact your airline carrier for information regarding weight restrictions on your luggage.

Report to Your Host Company Site of Activity:

You are required to report to your Host Company Site of Activity (your employer) by the start date on your DS-2019 Form. Your employer is expecting you by this date, and it’s the date listed in SEVIS. Failure to report will lead to the automatic termination of your sponsorship and will be reported to the Department of Homeland Security. There are no exceptions to this regulation.

Remember: When you signed your GEC Work Agreement, you agreed to complete the terms and conditions of your program. This document is an agreement between you, your Host Company, and your visa sponsor. Your Host Company Site of Activity has been carefully screened and a great deal of time has been given to place you in the position with your employer. Not reporting to your employer or leaving the employment soon after your arrival is grounds for program sponsorship termination.