Pre-Arrival Guide



What to Pack

Immigration Documents

Make copies of all your documents and make a list of all your valuable items just in case they get lost or stolen. Obtaining replacement documents and articles can be time consuming and costly if you do not have records.

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • SEVIS Fee paid receipt
  • I-20

Other Important Items

  • Airline tickets
  • Credit cards
  • Emergency contact information
  • Medicines and prescriptions
  • Birth certificate (copy)
  • Transcripts and educational documents (extra copies)
  • Electrical adapter (voltage in U. S. is 110)


Light cotton clothing is recommended for most of the year if you are living in the greater Phoenix area. Most people dress very casually during the summer months. Many students wear shorts and light cotton blouses or t-shirts on campus.

During winter months, you will need jeans, sweaters and a light jacket. If you leave the greater Phoenix area to visit cities located in higher elevations, you will need heavier and warmer clothing during the winter months.

In addition to recommended clothing items, during the summer months we strongly recommend that you always wear sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 along with sunglasses and a hat. You will also want a water bottle in order to keep hydrated at all times in our dry climate.


Careful planning and preparation by students can ensure that procedural delays are minimal. If you are a non-immigrant student, here are some things that you should do:

  • Before leaving your country, confirm that your passport and non-immigrant visa are valid for entry into the United States. The passport should be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the date of your expected stay.

  • Check to see that your visa accurately reflects your correct visa classification.

  • If the visa states the name of the institution you will attend, also verify that this information is accurate. If your review indicates any discrepancies or potential problems, visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain a new visa.

  • Students entering the United States for the first time under their F-1 non-immigrant visa classification may only be admitted up to 30-days prior to the program start date.

  • When you travel, you should carry the items listed below with you. Do NOT check them in your baggage! If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will not be able to show the documents to the Customs and Border Protection Officer, and as a result, may not be able to enter the United States.


Entering the U.S.

Important: You may arrive up to 30 days prior to the start date indicated on your I-20. You may not arrive any sooner than that.

Documents you should carry with you:

  • Passport (including attached envelope of immigration documents) with F-1 non-immigrant visa

  • SEVIS Form I-20

  • Internet receipt verifying SEVIS Fee payment

  • Evidence of financial resources

  • Certificate of Admission or Acceptance Letter

Additionally, it is recommended that you also carry the following document:

  • Name and contact information for Designated School Official (DSO) at your intended school

If you are traveling by aircraft, the flight attendants on board will distribute CF-6059 Customs Declaration Form before you land at your initial point-of entry in the U.S. Complete the form while you are on the aircraft and submit it to the appropriate Customs and Border Protection Officer upon your arrival. If you do not understand a form, ask the flight attendant 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, ensure that you have: your passport, SEVIS Form I-20, and CF-6059 Customs Declaration Form available for presentation to the CBP Officer.

Student will be provided with a CBP admission stamp (I-94) on their travel document (passport). If a traveler needs a copy of their I-94 (record of admission) for verification of immigration status, it can be obtained from

If you are entering through a land entry or designated seaport, the Customs and Border Protection Officer will provide the necessary CF-6059, Customs Declaration Form, and automated I-94 arrival-departure record at the port of entry. If you do not understand a specific form, ask the CBP Officer for assistance.

Like all entering visitors, you will be asked to state the reason you wish to enter the United States. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the CBP Officer that you will be a student. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school or exchange visitor program where you will enroll. Once your inspection is complete, the inspecting officer will:

  • Issue a CBS Admission Stamp (I-94) on the passport.
  • Return the SEVIS Form and passport to student.


If the inspector cannot automatically verify your information, or you do not have all of the required documentation, you may be escorted to an interview area known as “secondary inspection.” Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information. Verifications are done apart from the primary inspection lines so that an individual case will not cause delays for other arriving passengers.

It is recommended that you have readily available the name and phone number of the foreign student advisor at your school or the person responsible for you in case your admission/participation needs to be verified. In the event you arrive during non-business hours (evenings, weekends, holidays), you should have a phone number where this individual can be reached during non-business hours.

Failure to provide proper documentation and to comply with entry/exit procedures is cause to refuse the student or exchange visitor admission into the United States. In limited circumstances, if a student or exchange visitor is mostly, but not fully in compliance, he/she may be issued a Form I-515A, Notice to Student. This form authorizes temporary admission for 30 days into the United States and requires the student or exchanges visitor to take immediate action to submit proper documentation. Non-compliance with the directions contained on these forms can result in future adverse action.

Getting to MCC


MCC does not offer transportation. When you arrive, you may take a taxi or shuttle or you may also use a transportation app like Lyft or Uber. There are also many services that run from the airport to Mesa. Simply do a search online for these services. It can cost between $20-$50, depending on the service that you choose.

Hotels and temporary places to stay

If you are new to Arizona and do not have a place to stay, there are several hotel options near MCC. The hotels on the housing resources document below are located within a close radius to MCC.

New Student Checklist

Report Your Arrival

It is mandatory that you report your arrival to our college as a new F-1 student. Reporting is a process that is done in person at the International Education (IE) Office Front Desk in building 36N on the Southern and Dobson Campus. You will need to check in with us before or by the program start date on your I-20. In addition, you will need to do it before you register for classes as you will need to submit important information that relates to your classes.

If you are sick and cannot check in/report to our school in person, please give us a call at 480-461-7756 for assistance.

How to Report to Us

Gather Documents

You will need to bring the following documents to the MCC IE Office:

  • Your passport with F-1 visa page.
  • The front page of your I-20, signed by you. It is important that you sign the first page of your I-20. If you do not sign your I-20, your application will not be considered valid.
  • A print out of your most recent I-94 (Arrival/Departure record) from the website:
  • United States Address - We will ask for an address here in the United States. If you only have a temporary address, you can enter that address. However, you will need to provide us with a new address as soon as you move. Submit your new address by filling out the Change of Address Request form within 10 days of the change of address.

Register for Classes

We will contact you with information as to when you are expected to show up. When you come to MCC to register for you classes as a new student you will need to take a placement test. Placement tests sometimes take a couple of hours, that is why it is advised that you show up at 8 am. That way you have time to take the placement test and are able to register for classes by noon. On that same day, you will also be setting up your MCC online student account.

By noon you will meet with an advisor and based on your test scores and your major, they will help you choose your classes. New students need to meet with an advisor to register for classes. They can’t register for classes by themselves.

Pay for your classes

You will need to pay for your classes that same day. Make sure that you bring a form of payment. You can pay with either debit, credit card, or check. After you are done registering for classes, you can go to Cashier Services. You can also pay for your classes online and set up a payment plan. Just make sure that you pay for your classes that same day. If you fail to pay for your classes, your classes will get dropped. For more information about costs and payment methods, visit our Cost of Attendance page.

Once you have paid for your classes, you will be able to get your student ID from the Enrollment Center.

Attend the International Student Orientation

All new F-1 students MUST attend the international orientation. Please make sure that you can attend from start to finish and that you will be in the country by that time, at the latest! If you leave before the orientation is over, you will have to attend another one. It is very important that you come to the orientation as you will receive specific information regarding your I-20.

Come by the office and get to know us! The International Education office is located on the Southern & Dobson campus in the Thunderbird Student Success Center, Building 36N.

Local Resources



There are various apartment complexes and other housing options found near MCC. Below are some housing resources and other miscellaneous services so that you can find the housing option that best suits your needs and find resources to help you get settled.



You can get bus passes at the MCC bookstore. Through the MCCD Travel Reduction Program, bus subsidies are offered to students in the Office of Student Life and Leadership. To qualify for a student discount, at the time of purchase, the student must be enrolled in 12 or more credit hours.

Other bus options are available. To get more information on public transportation visit:


If you are planning on getting a car and driving in the U.S., you will need to have a valid Arizona driver's license. Visit the Arizona Department of Transportation website to learn more about the requirements for getting a license.

You will need to bring a valid passport, your F-1 visa, your I-20, and your current I-94.

Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Stores, and Other Services

On Campus

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available at the Thunderbird Cafe in the Kirk Student Center.

Grounds for Thought (coffee/bakery shop), has two locations, one in the Elsner Library corridor and the other one in the Kirk Student Center next to the Thunderbird Cafe.

You can buy or rent most of your books at the campus Follett Bookstore. The entrance is on the south end of the Student Lounge.

Off Campus

Below are some places near MCC where you can find services. Although you can find some on campus, most of them will be off campus but are within driving distance of MCC.

What to Expect - Adjusting to the U.S. Quickly and Comfortably

Explore - Get Familiar with your Environment

  • Come to MCC and visit us in International Education in the 36N Building as soon as possible, after your arrival.
  • Go on a campus tour and enjoy walks around the College.
  • Talk to the office staff, faculty, and students in your department.
  • Ask a student or staff member if they would show you around the department.
  • Attend local and statewide events and seminars.
  • Read about Arizona, The Grand Canyon State.
  • Read history and culture about the United States of America.
  • Read about Arizona's geography.
  • Attend the International Orientation to learn about MCC and meet other international students!

Learn Cultural Norms - Pay Attention to Other People's Behavior

  • How do they greet each other?
  • How do they line up for a bus? How do people seat themselves on a bus?
  • How do people interact in professional settings, like offices, in the classroom, in a store, or on the street?

Be Slow to Judge

  • Ask someone who knows the culture about your observations. Be sure to ask "why" people do what they do.
  • Compare how things are both similar and different in your country. These comparisons may offer you a new, insightful perspective on your own culture.

Go to Events Where You Can Meet New People

  • MCC International Education programs
  • Classroom or Special Event Speakers
  • Workshops
  • Intramural sports
  • Student groups and clubs

Be Open to Starting Conversations

  • With students and scholars
  • With students and people in the community from your own country who have been in the U.S. for awhile.
  • MCC staff and faculty
  • Other people you meet out in the community (in restaurants and stores, at the library, on public transportation, etc.)
  • Sign up for our Conversation Partner Program. We match up partners seeking to practice English and a variety of foreign languages. It's a great way to make new friends and learn about different cultures!