Travel to the U.S. and Fairbanks

Travel to the U.S.

In order to enter the U.S. in the appropriate immigration status, you will need to present the immigration document issued for your status and the corresponding visa.

J-1 status:  You may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the program start date printed on page 1 of the COEEV – Item 3.  If you attempt to arrive more than 30 days before the program start date, you may be refused entry into the United States.

H-1B status:  You may enter the U.S. no more than 5 days before the employment authorization date printed on the I-797 approval notice.

TN status:  You may enter the U.S. no more than 5 days before your employment start date.

Always carry your documents with you – do not pack them in your baggage!

Do not check required documents in your baggage. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will be unable to present the documents at your port of entry. As a result, you may not be able to enter the United States. We recommend you make an additional copy of your documents: one copy to leave with your friends or family before your departure. Below is a list of required documents that you must carry with you:

  • Your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay;
  •  H-1B status:
    • Original I-797 approval notice
    • I-129 application package
  • J-1 status:
    • Original Form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor
    • SEVIS fee payment receipt
    • Evidence of financial resources (contract letter or source of funding)
  • TN status:
    • UAF Employer letter with a copy of the Trade NAFTA Appendix 1603.D.A Professional Job Series
    • UAF contract letter
    • Academic credentials (strongly recommend having an academic credential evaluation if your degree is from a non-U.S. school)
    • Filing fee in U.S. dollars as not all ports of entry can accept credit cards

Port of Entry Arrival

Proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers. Have your immigration documents available for inspection along with the Customs Declaration Form (CF-6059) – this form should be provided to you by airline personnel before your plane lands in the U.S.

All visitors entering the United States must state their reason for wishing to enter the country. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the CBP Officer why you are coming to the U.S. as well as the status you wish to enter in. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school program where you will be located (University of Alaska Fairbanks).

The immigration officer at the Port of Entry will look at your passport, identification and visa pages, immigration documents and perhaps your financial documents.  Keep any letters from the university available as they may help to answer the immigration officer’s questions.  During the immigration officials’ examination of your documents, you will be digitally photographed and fingerprinted. 

Once your inspection is complete, your passport will be stamped and the Customs & Border Protection Officer will annotate the stamp with your immigration status.  J-1 status holders will have an annotation of “D/S” which means “Duration of Status” rather than a specific date.  All others will have a date corresponding to the end of the authorization period.  The officer will update your immigration record in their system.  Be sure to verify that the correct immigration status is written in your passport before leaving the custom officer’s station.  This is very important!  The date entered in your passport is the day you need to leave the U.S.

You will receive an information sheet describing how to access your electronic I-94 arrival/departure record to print a copy for your reference and use as needed.  Please provide a copy to our office after you arrive in Fairbanks.

Secondary Inspection Requirements

If the CBP officer at the port of entry cannot initially verify your information or you do not have all of the required documentation, you may be directed to an interview area known as “secondary inspection.” Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information without causing delays for other arriving passengers.

The inspector will first attempt to verify your status by using the Student and Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS) for the J-1 status. In the event that the CBP Officer needs to verify information with your school or program, they will ask you for the name and telephone number of the international student advisor at your school:

J-1 Exchange Visitors: Joanna Cruzan, Lead and Senior Immigration Specialist,  907-474-7157

In the event you arrive during non-business hours (evening, weekend, holiday), you should provide the emergency or non-business hour phone number available: 

24-hour emergency contact number at UAF: Campus Police: 1- 907-474-7721

The UAF Campus Police will be able to contact one of our office staff  at any time if it is necessary.

Failure to comply with U.S. government entry-exit procedures may result in your being denied entry to the United States. Under certain circumstances, the CBP officer may issue a “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor” Form (I-515A) to an entering J-1 Exchange Visitor, which authorizes temporary admission into the United States.   If you receive the I-515A entry, bring it to our office without delay.

Travel to Fairbanks

We recommend that you fly into Fairbanks International Airport (airport code FAI).  Most domestic flights connect through Seattle or Minneapolis/St. Paul with nonstop service to Fairbanks from those airports.  

If you do not have someone meeting you at the airport, taxis are available at the airport.  The ride will cost approximately $20-30. Be sure to have enough cash available (in U.S. dollars), in case you need to take a taxi (not all taxis can accept credit cards). If you are living in campus housing, ask the driver to take you to UAF Bartlett Hall (the dorm on the hill) for check-in.

Please note: it is important to make housing arrangements BEFORE arriving in Fairbanks so that you have somewhere to stay on arrival. See the Housing page for additional information. 

We occasionally receive questions about flying into Anchorage, and driving to Fairbanks. It is 581 kilometers (361 miles) from the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to the UAF campus, taking between 6.5 and 7 hours to drive, weather and road conditions depending. The drive is beautiful, and the trip takes you through Denali National Park, past Mt. McKinley/Denali (the tallest mountain on the North American continent), but going by taxi or railway will most likely cost you more than flying directly to Fairbanks.