Arriving to the U.S.

Put your preparation into action!

  • Do not attempt to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. You may be refused entry!
  • Keep in mind that sometimes luggage is temporarily misplaced. In order to avoid considerable problems if this happens to you, we recommend packing items you need for 2-3 days in your carry-on luggage (extra clothes, money, prescription medication, eyeglasses, contact lenses, personal toiletry items, etc.)
  • Check this list of prohibited and restricted items to bring to U.S.
  • Check this list of prohibited items to bring into an airplane.

Campus Map

small campus map

Take a look at the map of PLU before arriving. If you are checking in to on-campus housing, depending on the time of your arrival, you will either go to Orientation Headquarters in the University Center or to the Campus Safety Office in the Neeb Center!

Hand carry the following items

  • Passport (needs to be valid for at least six month beyond the date of your expected stay). If your country is listed on this list, your passport will be valid until the date of expiration.
  • SEVIS Form I-20/ DS-2019. For new students, U.S. Consular Officer may put your I-20/DS-2019 in a sealed envelope, sometimes attached to your passport—Do NOT open the envelope! The CBP officer at the U.S. port of entry will open it.
  • Address of where you live in the U.S. (on-campus room assignment info or off-campus address)
  • Contact information of our office:

Heather Jacobson, Associate Director, Int’l Enrollment & Student Services, PDSO/ARO
Pacific Lutheran University
PLU Office Hours: Monday- Friday, 8:30AM-5:00PM (Pacific Time Zone)

For emergencies, contact Campus Safety at 253-535-7441. The office is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • In addition, it is strongly recommended that you hand carry the following documents:
  • Evidence of financial resources.
  • Evidence of student status, such as recent tuition receipts, transcripts, letter of acceptance and class schedule.
  • Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee, Form I-797.

What to expect at the Airport

  1. Have the following documents available for presentation: a valid passport, a valid student visa, a valid SEVIS Form I-20/DS-2019 and other recommended documents.
  2. When you arrive you will proceed to the customs/inspection area. Inform the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer that you are a new or returning student in the United States.
  3. The CBP officer will process your I-20/DS-2019 form and return it to you, take a digital photo and your fingerprints.
  4. Pick up your baggage at the baggage claim carousel.
  5. Proceed through CBP checkpoint and show your Customs Declaration Form (CF-6059) to the CBP officer (your baggage may be examined).
  6. If your first entry to the U.S. is at Sea-Tac Airport’s new International Terminal, you will pick up your baggage before proceeding to the customs/inspection area.


PLU operated airport pick-up is available on move-in day. To learn more, please visit the Airport Pick Up page.

If you would like to arrange your own airport pick-up, we recommend services by Premier Airport Shuttle.

To access the discounted student price, book your ride on this special Reservation Portal. When you go to book a ride on the Premier Airport Shuttle website, make sure that you are reserving one-way transportation from Sea-Tac International Airport. You can type in “Pacific Lutheran University” as your destination. Depending on your arrival time, you can ask the shuttle to drop you off at the Anderson University Center on Park Ave or in front of Neeb Center (intersection of Park Ave and 125th St S) where Campus Safety is located. When you check in you will pick up your room key and/or PLU ID card. Please do NOT go to your assigned residence hall without checking in.

When you arrive at Sea-Tac Airport, proceed to Baggage Claim and collect your luggage. To get to Premier Airport Shuttle’s check-in desk, follow the signs for Door To Door Vans. From the baggage claim area, go up to the Parking Garage level, cross Skybridge 4, and go down to the 3rd floor Transportation Plaza. A person who works at the desk is not always there but he/she will always come out 5-10 minutes before the departure time of each shuttle. Just show them your reservation confirmation and they will take care of you. There are a lot of students who travel to PLU so they know what to do even if you don’t explain details. You can just say you are going to PLU (though a driver knows already from your reservation). If you are late for your reservation, they will just put you on the next shuttle available with no additional fee so there is no need to panic.

Lodging for Family and Friends

Take a look at this list of recommended local lodging by Office of Admission.