From/To Canada

Students coming from Canada

It is very common for students traveling from Canada to the US, especially those driving, to simply “cross the border” without giving thought to what might be required by the Canadian and US Government for entering as a student. Canadian citizens do not need to obtain a Visa in order to enter the U.S. They should, however, stop at the border to declare they are entering the U.S. to attend school on a SEVIS I-20 so a I-94 can be completed.

Note: It is strongly advised that F-1 Visa holders carry all official documents, including evidence of financial support for the duration of status – USCIS/Customs Official may ask to see this evidence.

Obtaining F-1 Student Status

To enter the U.S. in F-1 student status, Canadians must present the items listed below to the immigration inspector:

  • Form I-20 from SCC
  • Valid passport
  • Supporting financial documents submitted to obtain the Form I-20
  • Proof of SEVIS Fee payment  (if you paid before because you are a transfer student, please keep your records)
    Pay the SEVIS fee and follow the instructions. Be sure to make a copy of the receipt for your own records.

After the immigration inspector reviews your documents, an electronic I-94 Admission/Departure receipt will be completed. Be sure to print your I-94 receipt to ensure that it has the notations “F-1 D/S” on it. ALL international students, including Canadian students, must have a correctly annotated I-94 receipt to confirm current F-1 status. If your I-94 card does not have “F-1” “D/S”, you are considered to be in Visitor.


What Do I Need to Do in Order to Enter Canada?

Citizens from, certain countries who wish to visit Canada are required to obtain a visitor’s visa (tourist visa) from the Canadian Consulate General in Los Angeles: Immigration Section, Canadian Consulate General, 550 South Hope Street, 9 Floor, Los Angeles CA, 90071 Telephone (213) 346-2700, fax (213) 620827. Citizens of certain counties such as Australia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, United Kingdom and Venezuela are likely to be exempt from the visa requirement, but to be certain, contact the Consulate in Los Angeles. The Consulate in San Francisco does not process visa requests for entering Canada, you should send your visa request to the Consulate in Los Angeles. The San Francisco Consulate does offer a special “800 number” for the province that you might visa (i.e. for tourist information for Ontario you may call 10068-2746).

What Does the USCIS Require for Re-Entering the U.S.

F-1 students who visit Canada for less than 30 days, who have maintained a lawful non-immigrant status in the U.S. and intend to resume that status upon their return, must have the following:
(1) a valid passport,
(2) a new or properly endorsed valid I-20 (for F-1 visa holders)
(3) and a valid Form I-94 (white card usually stapled to the passport, known as the travel/departure record).
NOTE: a valid F-1 visa stamp in the passport is not required if you are traveling solely to Canada and the travel period does not exceed 30 days. DO NOT surrender your unexpired Form I-94, since you would be expected to have a valid visa stamp in your passport. Currently this automatic visa re-validation is not applicable to nationals of Iran, Iraq, and Libya.