So you’ve been recruited, you’ve signed a letter of intent to your top choice school, and now you need to figure out all those little details that will actually get you TO campus, and ready for your first year as a student athlete!
Today’s blog will focus on the little detail of STUDENT VISA’s.
Canadian citizens do not need visas to study in the U.S.
Well, unfortunately that’s not the entire story. Canadian citizens need to hold an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility from the university that you plan to attend. It’s not hard to get, but there are some steps that need to be taken prior to crossing the border on your way to school!
In order to be issued an I-20;
- You must be accepted as a full time student at your university
- You must be able to prove that you can support the costs of living and studying in the U.S for the duration of your program of study. (this is a US Law!)Proof of financial support can come from your “sponsors” (parents, family, friends, other organizations) your personal savings (RESP or other education savings accounts) and any funding from the school (including your athletic or other scholarship or bursaries as given to you in an official financial award letter)
The school will issue you an I-20 that will be mailed to your home address here in Canada. The I-20 insures that you are registered with the SEVIS, student tracking system in the United States. You will be assigned a SEVIS number, and be required to pay a registration fee. As soon as you receive your I-20 you must pay the SEVIS activation fee ($200 USD) you can do this online here. Hang on to your receipt because you will need it when you cross the border.
When you cross the border to study you will need to provide the Officer at the port of entry the following items:
- 1. Proof of identity and citizenship (a Canadian passport – make sure it does not expire while you are away!)
- 2. The original I-20 certificate (the one you were sent from the school)
- 3. Proof that you have paid your SEVIS fee (the receipt you should have kept)
- 4. Proof that you have the funds to pay for the school that you plan to attend (that’s your letter of financial aid + bank statements as already provided to the school above)
- 5. Proof of your ties to Canada (this could be mail addressed to you at a Canadian address, a bank statement etc)
The first time you cross the border (no more than 30 days before the start of classes) with your I-20 you will show the officer ally our documentation and let them know you will be attending university in the US. They will stamp your I-20 and staple a small white card (I-94) to the sheet. The I-20 combined with the I-94 are OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS!!! DO. NOT. LOSE. THEM!!!
Once you arrive on campus you must go to the International Student Office and have page 3 of your I-20 signed. You will not be allowed re-entry into the United States unless this form is signed. You need to have a new signature every year on this form to validate your continued enrolment at the university EVERY YEAR. You will need to carry this documentation with you every time you cross the border, this includes social visits, shopping and other non-academic related reasons.
Working in the United States.
Students with an I-20 (international student visas are called F-1 so you will often see it referred to as F-1, Canadians do not need this visa) may work ON CAMPUS only after they have completed one year of study, AND provided they do not displace employment of a US citizen, they work 20hrs a week or less, and they have gotten a Social Security number.
When you arrive in the US as a student you are assigned a 999 identification number, this replaces your social security number (similar to the SIN in Canada) With a 999 number you are NOT able to work. When you are offered an on campus job you must request an official letter of employment which you take to the local social security office to apply for your SS number.
For answers to all your student employment questions, including: What employment is considered on-campus? What is defined as off-campus? and What about student internships? Please visit the Department of Homeland Security; Student Exchange and Visitor website HERE
Do you have questions about the international student visa process, or working on campus? Ask them in the comments below!