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Once you have accepted admission, gotten a student visa and made your travel plans, it is time to come to campus. Learn how to enter the United States and get to Lehigh University.

As you plan your travel to the United States, remember that you cannot enter the country more than 30 days before the program start date on your I-20 or DS-2019, or after your program start date. If you cannot arrive before International Orientation, please contact us. We may need to give you documentation to present at the port of entry.

At the Airport

When you land at a U.S. airport, the immigration officer will likely ask to see the following documents:

  • Passport and visa
  • I-20 or DS-2019 issued by Lehigh University
  • Lehigh University admission letter
  • SEVIS fee receipt and financial documents

If you are transferring to Lehigh from another U.S. school and you have a valid visa with that school’s name, you can enter the U.S. with that visa stamp.

The officer may ask questions to assess your intent to study in the U.S. and return home. The burden is on you to convince them. They may ask to see the documentation you provided to the embassy or consulate. Be prepared to provide financial statements, admission letters, scholarship letters and proof that you have paid the SEVIS fee.

The officer will review your I-20 or DS-2019 and confirm in SEVIS that you have checked in to the United States.  If the officer has any questions about your documents or the purpose of your visit, you may be sent to Secondary Inspection so they can gather more information.  If this happens, do not panic!  It is important that you are patient and answer any questions that the officer has for you.

After the officer is satisifed that they can admit you to the United States, they will return your documents and allow you to move on to collect your bags.  Depending on your port of entry, the officer may place a stamp noting your arrival date and visa class (F-1 or J-1).  Not all ports of entry routinely stamp passports, so you will want to verify your class of admission by retrieving your electronic I-94 at the earliest possible opportunity. If your electronic I-94 does not show your correct date of entry and class of admission (F-1 or J-1), please notify OISS right away!

Pick up your luggage at baggage claim. If you do not know your way around the airport, you can always ask—people are friendly and happy to help. Some U.S. airports are busy, and it may take you up to three hours to exit the airport.

Getting to Campus

Refer to this map for a clearer picture on how to get from the airport to Lehigh!

From New Jersey – Newark Liberty International Airport

We strongly recommend that you fly into Newark Liberty International Airport. It is much closer to Lehigh than the John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York. The airport code for Newark is EWR. Trans-Bridge Lines offers bus service from the airport to the Bethlehem Transportation Center at 635 Guetter Street on the North Side. When you land, ask for the Trans-Bridge Bus Station.

From New York – John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport

Trans-Bridge Lines also offers bus service from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) airport in New York to the North Bethlehem bus terminal.  JFK bus schedules may be more limited due to COVID-19 changes, so if you fly to JFK, you may need to travel to the Port Authority Terminal to catch the Trans-Bridge bus. When you land, ask for the Trans-Bridge Bus Station. You can only purchase tickets for this bus directly from the driver and you need exact change.

Once on Campus

Plan your date of arrival so you have time to:

  • Relax for a couple of days and recharge your energy
  • Find housing (as applicable) and review your living arrangements
  • Attend the mandatory International Orientation
  • Register for classes
  • Get your Lehigh ID and other documents you may need

Early Arrival to Lehigh

Remember that you can only arrive in the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019. If you arrive early but within the 30-day window, contact OISS. We can help you with logistics like getting your student ID or driver’s license. Undergraduate students who arrive before being granted access to their student housing will need to make alternate arrangements.  To help us plan for your arrival, please be sure to complete the Visa Stamp and Travel Plans e-form in your New Student Checklist.