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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 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.

When taking a taxi from the airport, follow these instructions closely. Never go with someone who walks up to you and offers to help. Go straight to the official taxi line and take a yellow colored taxi only.  Students may arrange for a car service or use the regulated New York City medallion yellow taxicabs. The cost is approximately $55 USD from LaGuardia or JFK airports to SVA. LaGuardia and JFK airports are the most convenient airports to travel from and to SVA.

Look for the “Ground Transportation” signs when exiting the airport. Do not accept offers from anyone in the airport terminal who approaches you. Firmly say “no, thank you” and look for the taxi line when exiting the terminal after you have retrieved your luggage. Follow the signs for the taxi line. You will see a kiosk with a staff person where other passengers are waiting for a taxi. 

Again, if anyone approaches you to take you to a taxicab that is not yellow, firmly say “no, thank you”.  Never get into a car without understanding the cost.  Only Take New York City Medallion Yellow Taxicabs!
Off-campus Housing

Looking for Housing
For information regarding SVA housing, please refer to the Office of Residence, 212.592.2140.

Here are some websites that provide information on finding temporary accommodations. Beware of scams targeting international students. 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.

International Student Housing Guide - Everything you need to know about searching for housing, including a detailed timeline, checklist.
Living in the USA by eduPASS: Includes a helpful guide on housing.
The Brandon Residence for Women
Sara's New York Homestay
Educational Housing Services

General New York City Housing Resources:
NYC Rent Guidelines Board

International Student Profile

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