Travel & Arrival

After you check into your residence hall, you will join your orientation group for a weekend of fun filled activities. It is important that you have an opportunity to participate. More orientation information is available on the orientation page.

If you are participating in athletics, your coach may have scheduled an earlier arrival date for pre-season physical conditioning. If this applies to you, your coach will communicate with you regarding the date you are expected to arrive.

Travel Itinerary

An F-1 student visa holder may enter the United States up to 30 days prior to the program start date listed on the I-20. Check this date before you purchase tickets! To reach Central Methodist University, you may fly into three different airports:

Columbia Regional Airport

Kansas City International Airport

St. Louis International Airport

University will ONLY provide airport pick up shuttle from Columbia Regional Airport” during the shuttle service hours the first time you travel to CMU. Please contact Global Engagement Office for shuttle service hours and send your arrival information to and include the following information:

  • Date of Arrival
  • Airport
  • Airline and flight number
  • Arrival Time
  • Final (connecting) City of Departure
  • Number of People in Your Party

If you would prefer, MO-X provides a paid shuttle service from the St. Louis and Kansas City airports to Columbia or Boonville several times per day.

Central also offers pickup and drop-off at Kansas City International airport with bookings through our Eagle Shuttle!

Cars may also be rented at any of the airports as well as through the following local vendors: Enterprise, Avis, Hertz.

If you are already in the United states, other options include traveling by train on Amtrack, or by Greyhound Bus.

Tips for Travel

Check the weight restrictions for the air carrier you are using. Additional fees for overweight luggage can be quite costly. Due to an increase in the amount of luggage that misses connecting flights, we recommend packing a complete change of clothes in your carry-on luggage. You may also want to carry a phone card, and some U.S. currency to use within the airport in case you are delayed or your cell phone or laptop do not work.

Do not pack your I-20, your passport, or your money in your luggage. Hand carry these documents in a safely concealed bag on your person. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected entry date.

Call the Admission Office at 660-248-6320 or send an email to when you enter the United States to let us know if your flights and connections are on time. Once on campus, you will have an opportunity to come to the Admission Office to call your family and let them know that you have arrived safely.

Arrival at a United States Port of Entry

During your flight to the United States, you will be asked to complete a customs declaration form and an I-94. This is a white card which should be completed on both sides.

Upon arrival at a U.S. Port of Entry, proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers. officers from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will review your documents, including your passport, your I-20, your completed I-94 card, customs declaration form and your financial documentation.

The customs officer will ask you to state your reasons for wishing to enter the country and ask you 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 program where you will enroll (Central Methodist University; 411 CMU Square; Fayette, MO 65248).

The CBP Officer will stamp your I-94 card, note your F-1 student visa type on it, and mark it "D/S", which indicates "duration of status", and means that you may stay in the United States as long as you maintain your F-1 student status. The I-94 card should be stapled inside your passport to prevent loss. Without this document, you will not be able to verify that you entered the U.S. legally.

Secondary Inspection Requirements

If the CBP Officer at the Port of Entry cannot verify your information, or you do not have all of the required documentation, you may be directed to an interview area known as "secondary inspection." Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information without causing delays for other arriving passengers.

National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS)

Selected individuals may be asked to provide additional information under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). A packet of information will be available at the Port of Entry explaining the registration procedure. Failure to comply with these regulations could result in your arrest and deportation.