I am moving to Iowa for academic purposes but will not be taking a domestic flight directly to Iowa but will be going out from Chicago, spending few days in Indiana and then taking the bus to Iowa. Will this be an issue and will I be questioned as to why I am leaving in Chicago? I heard that strict investigations are done when people do this and that we have to show proof and justify why we are getting out in a place that is not mentioned on the I-20

  • This is rather unclear. There is no exit inspection when you leave Chicago in order to travel to Indiana. What do you mean by "will I be questioned as to why I am leaving in Chicago"? – phoog Jul 25 '16 at 3:39
  • @phoog Will they ask me why I am not taking another flight to Iowa? – Donald Edwards Jul 25 '16 at 3:43
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    Do you mean "leave" as in leaving the international area of the airport? You'd have to do that anyway even if you were flying domestically to Iowa because that flight would be, well, domestic. Plus in the US all travelers must clear immigration and customs when they arrive, even if they are in transit to a foreign destination. In short, you can enter anywhere. Besides, Chicago is probably the most natural port of entry for someone going to Iowa. – phoog Jul 25 '16 at 3:46
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    Doubtful. Why would they care what means of transportation you're using? How would they know you're not about to fly to Iowa anyway? – phoog Jul 25 '16 at 3:47
  • Chicago is the nearest immigration port of entry to where you are studying. You are very unlikely to be questioned about this. In the unlikely event that you are asked about it, the answer of course is "Greyhound". – Michael Hampton Jul 26 '16 at 7:50

Very doubtful. The family of Chicago airports are a major hub internationally for many destinations in and around the U.S. There is certainly no rule that an international traveler must always enter at the location closest to their final destination. Many final destinations might not even have airport service anyway. With today's system of competing airlines and online customization of journeys, it's probably not even possible in most cases. You just fly into some hub and find your way onward as best as you can.

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    Indeed. Before British Airways added a direct San Diego to London flight, my port of entry was Chicago several times when I was actually traveling to San Diego. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 25 '16 at 11:59

You will pass through immigration once, at your port of entry. The immigration officer will probably ask you where you are going, and might ask you to show how you plan to get there. As long as you have a plan (either a bus ticket itinerary, or you can show that you clearly have the means to buy a bus ticket later), then you should be fine. There is certainly no requirement for you to fly to your final destination.

  • I plan to buy the bus ticket once I get there. Thanks anyway! – Donald Edwards Jul 26 '16 at 4:36

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