Arrive in Tampa as early as possible!
After you have secured your F-1 student visa, make the proper arrangements to fly to the U.S.
Remember: You can enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date listed on your I-20, but no sooner! For the Spring 2021 term, the official program start date is January 4. You must arrive in the United States before or on that day, or you risk losing your F-1 visa status. You want to give yourself enough time to find housing, familiarize yourself with the city and the campus, and to complete check-in, academic assessment and orientation activities before your classes begin. We strongly recommend that you arrive at least two weeks prior to the start date on your I-20 to complete academic assessment testing and check-in activities.
What to Bring with You
Here a few suggestions about what to pack and what to leave at home when planning your trip:
- Pack light. Bring only items you really need, or those that would be hard to replace or expensive to purchase in the U.S.
- In your carry-on bags, pack your immigration documents (passport and visa, Form I-20, HCC admission letter and documents showing financial support while you are a student at HCC). Also carry on medical records and prescription medicines for the first few months, if needed.
- Take enough cash to cover the first few weeks if you do not have access to a credit card right away. It may take a little while until you have set up a new bank account and acquired local debit or credit cards.
- Bring your electronics such as laptops, etc. and important, smaller personal items in your carry-on bags.
- In your regular luggage, pack clothing suited to the Florida climate, other smaller personal items and mementos.
- Leave large, inexpensive and delicate items at home.
- You can purchase food and inexpensive and reliable home goods at Walmart, Target and other local stores.
Carry your important immigration documents with you in your carry-on luggage because you will be required to show these documents to the Immigration Officer at your port of entry:
- Letter of Admission from HCC
- Valid passport and F-1 visa
- Current SEVIS Form I-20 issued by HCC
- Financial documentation
Your passport will be stamped with an entry date. Put all these documents in a safe place. You will need to present them to HCC upon your arrival.
Arrange airport transportation
Once you have cleared immigration and collected your luggage, if you do not have transportation arranged with friends or family, please utilize the various ground transportation options offered at Tampa International Airport (TPA) to reach your destination, including airport taxi and shuttle bus services. Do not accept offers from unauthorized sources or individuals.
Tampa International Airport (TPA) is located just a few minutes away from HCC’s Dale Mabry campus and our Hawks Landing student housing complex (the taxi fare is approximately USD $15). See Google Maps for the approximate distance.
Airport pick-up may be arranged for international students who have applied for on-campus housing at Hawks Landing. We will announce the dates/times via email if a pick-up is scheduled for the term. Arriving students will be greeted in the baggage claim area.
Depending on the Hawks Landing move-in date for the term, you may need to arrange for temporary accommodations for a few nights.
Report to School
U.S. immigration laws require that new F-1 visa students report to the school after their initial arrival in the U.S. as soon as possible. Failure to do so may result in the termination of your program and can lead to serious consequences for your lawful F-1 status and ability to return to the U.S. in the future.
In order to report your arrival, come to the Center for International Education office at the Dale Mabry Campus, Social Sciences Building, Room 322. Bring the following documents with you:
- Signed Form I-20
- Passport with visa and admission stamp
- Proof of health insurance (see information on the following pages).
We look forward to meeting you!