Applying for permission to study in the US can seem very confusing at first. Here are some important facts and tips to help your application process run as smoothly as possible!
Canadian citizens do not need a Visa to study in the US. However, there are several other important documents that will be necessary for your studies.
First, there is the I-20 form, the Certificate of Eligibility. Along with your acceptance package, your university will also send you an I-20 form. Make sure that all of the information on the form matches your correct identification and contact information, including all details concerning your passport.
Second, there is the I-901 form. This is found online, and it is also known as the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) form. The SEVIS form will ask for your SEVIS code, which can be found on your I-20 form. You will also need to pay a SEVIS I-901 fee of $200. There are several options for paying this fee:
By credit or debit card at www.FMJfee.com. You will then be issued a printable fee receipt. Online fees must be paid at least 3 business days prior to your arrival at the border.
By submitting a cheque or money order from a US bank, along with the SEVIS I-901 form. This must be submitted several weeks in advance to ensure adequate time for mailing, processing, and receiving an I-797 paper fee receipt.
Once you have completed these steps, you will then be considered in either F-1 or M-1 standing. Both F- and M-1 standing imply that you are a nonimmigrant student pursuing full-time studies. F-1 standing describes students pursuing academic courses. M-1 standing describes students pursuing non-academic or vocational courses.
If you are doing an exchange program, this is considered J-1 standing. The procedure is slightly different than detailed above, so make sure to check with your intended university for any other steps.
Upon arriving at the border, you must have your:
- I-20 Certificate of Eligibility form
- Acceptance letter from your university
- I-901 or I-797 SEVIS fee receipt
- Valid passport
- Proof of financial security, at least for one year
Once approved by Customs, you will be issued an I-94 Arrival-Departure Record card. You will need this card every time you cross the border, as well as your passport and any other travel documents you may need. Your university will most likely send you plenty of information concerning the I-94 card and its rules and regulations.
For more information concerning any of the following procedures or US forms, visit http://www.ice.gov/sevis/students/