If you are attempting to enter or re-enter the US on an F-1, M-1 or J-1 visa (or a dependent of someone holding one of those visas), you need to make sure you have the appropriate authorization and documents to do so. If you do not have these documents with you, there are generally three possibilities of what can happen:
- You can be denied entry, or re-entry to the US
- With an explanation and perhaps a bit of luck, nothing negative will happen
- You will be given conditional entry, and what is called an I-515A form
Hopefully you never experience the first option, are rewarded with the second option, and with help from us at Internship Saver, be prepared for the third option.
Conditional entry simply means that you have been admitted to the US temporarily. You have a certain amount of time to submit proof that you do in fact have the required documents for your visit or re-entry.
Receiving an I-515A Form
At your port of entry to the US, you would receive a document looking like this, and some instruction on what to do next. The officer should check one of the boxes that tells you why you were given the form. They should also provide the list of documents you will need to submit. Make sure one of the boxes is checked before you walk away, so that you know what is missing. You have 30 days to send in the required documents.
- Make sure you contact your sponsor for a replacement if your DS-2019 form was lost or stolen. (Note: You may be charged a replacement fee)
- Paper I-94 Cards are rarely given anymore. You can print out your information online: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home
- The I-515A form is the form with your instructions on it
Submitting Your Documents
You have 30 days from your entry to mail in the original documents requested to the address on your form. At the time of this writing, that address is:
Student and Exchange Visitor Program – MS 5600
ATTN: SEVIS / I-515A Processing Team
500 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20536-5600
If you fail to submit the appropriate documents in time, your program may be Terminated and you may have to depart the US. The best way to avoid this hassle is to bring your documents with you on your trips!