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information For BEFORE YOU ARRIVE

New international students will receive The International Student's Survival Guide to Living in NYC - a booklet full of resources.

What to Expect When You Arrive

U.S. Entry Timeline:

If you are an initial student or exchange visitor entering the United States to attend school for the first time, you cannot enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date indicated on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. If you are returning to continue your studies as a F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor (including transferring schools or programs), you may leave the U.S. and re-enter at anytime, provided that you have proper immigration documentation from SVA.

Before leaving your country, confirm that your passport and visa are valid for entry into the United States. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the date you plan to enter the U.S.  Check your visa to make sure it accurately reflects your correct visa classification, such as F-1 or J-1.

Carry your immigration documents with you when you travel. Do not check them in your luggage!  If your luggage is lost or delayed, you will not be able to show the documents to the Customs and Border Protection Officer.

Carry these documents in person:

1. Passport with visa
2. Certificate of Eligibility, I-20 or DS-2019
3. Name and contact information of SVA's international student advisors

If you are flying to New York, the airline staff will distribute Customs Declaration Form before you land at your initial port of entry in the United States. Complete this form while you are on the aircraft and give it to the appropriate Customs and Border Protection Officer upon your arrival. If you do not understand a form, ask the airline staff for assistance.

Upon arrival at the port of entry, proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers for inspection. As you approach the inspection station, have your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, and Customs Declaration Form available to present to the Customs and Border Protection Officer.

If you are entering through a land or designated sea port, the Customs and Border Protection Officer will provide the necessary Customs Declaration Form at the port of entry.

You will be asked to state the reason you wish to enter the United States and your final destination. It is important that you tell the Customs and Border Protection Officer that you will be a student or exchange visitor at SVA.

Once your inspection is complete, the inspecting officer will:

1. Inspect your SEVIS Form (I-20 or DS-2019).
2. Stamp and mark your passport with the date of entry and visa classification (F-1/J-1, and D/S for "Duration of Status").
3. The I-94 Admission Number can be retrieved at www.cbp.gov/I94. This will be explained during orientation.

Transportation to SVA

Directions to SVA is available here.

Information about traveling from JFK, Newark and LaGuardia Airports to Manhattan and surrounding areas can be found here.

Information on New York City Transit is available here.

Pickup service at the airport is not provided by SVA.  If you wish to take a taxi, it is strongly recommended that after you collect your luggage from the baggage claim area, you exit the airport and look for the official yellow NYC Taxi queue.  Sometimes there are people waiting outsides the baggage claim area asking passengers if they need a car service.  These can be private vendors who are looking for people new to NYC and will sometimes charge extremely high rates.  JFK Taxi service information is available here.

Off-campus Housing

Looking for Housing
For information regarding SVA housing, please refer to the Office of Residence Life[email protected], 212.592.2140.

Here are some websites that provide information on finding temporary accommodations. If you are using the Internet to find accommodations, do not pay in advance for a room or apartment you have not seen.

Please note that SVA is not affiliated with and does not endorse any of these resources. SVA cannot be held responsible for your transactions.

The Brandon Residence for Women
Sara's New York Homestay
Educational Housing Services

General New York City Housing Resources:

NYC Rent Guidelines Board
Craigslist New York City
(Please use with caution. Fraudulent incidents have been reported regarding housing listings. Make sure you verify the legitimacy of the contact person before you sign anything or make payments.)

International Student Profile

School of Visual Arts | 209 East 23 Street, NY, NY 10010-3994 | Tel: 212.592.2000 | Fax: 212.725.3587