New Students

Plan Your Travel 

We are excited for your arrival.  Make preparations early to come and begin your studies at BEI. Prepare your finances and make your housing arrangements, early, too.  Students issued a Form I-20 and using the F visa to enter the United States need to pay close attention to their planned dates of arrival. Non-immigrant students are allowed to enter the United States up to 30 days prior to the start date of their class. If you don’t know this date, look on your I-20. The third section on page 1 is titled, “Program of Study.” In this box, you will see “Earliest Admission Date.” This date is the earliest date you can arrive in the US. Do not book travel prior to this date. You may have to return back to your home country or pay extra expenses for a vacation you didn’t expect.

How early can I arrive?

If you are in F-1 status, you can enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date (also listed on your I-20).

What is the latest I can arrive?

For F-1 students, check the program start date on your I-20 (“Program of Study” section). You must arrive in the U.S. by this date.


When you first enter the U.S., you will immediately go through an immigration and customs inspection with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). You will only go through the inspection process at the airport where you first enter the U.S. Make sure you allow 2 to 4 hours to complete the inspection process.  There are some airports outside the U.S. where you may go through this inspections process prior to your departure.

When you enter the U.S. you must bring all of your immigration documents with you, and keep them with you at all times when you travel. Do not put your immigration documents in your checked luggage! You will be required to go through the inspection before you will be allowed to collect your luggage.

Carry the following documents with you to present to CBP:

  • Passport (with at least 6 months of future validity)
  • I-20 for F students
  • Valid visa
  • SEVIS (I-901) fee receipt
  • Proof of finances for your study in the U.S., including for the support of dependents who accompany you
  • BEI Welcome Letter

The CBP officer will examine all of your documents, and may ask you several questions about why you are traveling to the U.S. and how you plan to finance your stay. Politely and honestly answer the CBP officer’s questions. The CBP officer will then decide if you will be admitted to the United States.

Check-In at BEI

Now that you are in Houston, your next step is to check in at BEI.  Before Day 1, you will need to take your placement exam.  This assessment will help us determine your level of English.  You will be assessed in Grammar & Reading, Writing, and Listening/Speaking.  BEI placement is Level Pre-1 to 7.  New Student Orientation is designed to help ease your transition to BEI and Houston.  This welcome session will introduce you to school rules, class details, and local Houston-area resources.

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