The F1 visa for Canadian students is a US visa that allows international students including Canadians to temporarily live in the United States for a stipulated period while studying at a school, college, seminary, or conservatory.

Unless you are already a U.S. Citizen, you will need an F1 visa to attend an academic program or English Language Program at a US college or university. Canadian citizens intending to study in the USA do not need to go to a US Embassy or consulate to apply for an F1 student visa, they can choose to be processed at the Border to get their F1 student visa status.

An “F1 student visa” is not an immigration visa; instead, it is a sticker on a Passport. This visa is awarded to Canadian citizens upon entry into the USA by an officer of the US Customs and Border Protection Service (US CBP). You will have to be studying at an academic institution, not training at a vocational school.

Your academic institution will also have to be approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP), and this entails that it has to be accredited to accept foreign students on F1 visas.

With an F1 visa, Canadian citizens can remain in the US for up to 60 days beyond the length of time it takes to complete their academic program unless they have already applied and have been approved to stay and work for some time under the OPT Program.

F1 students are also expected to complete their studies by the expiration date on their I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status) which is stipulated by the US college or university that the student has been accepted to attend.

Requirements to Obtain an F1 Visa as a Canadian Citizen or Student

To be deemed eligible for this visa, you will be expected to meet the following requirements;

  1. Apply and be granted admission into a course of study at a SEVP-approved school in the United States. SEVP-approved schools are not just universities — they can also be high schools, seminaries, private elementary schools, conservatories, or language programs.
  2. You are expected to be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution.
  3. You will have to be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency.
  4. Have proof of adequate financial funds to support study in the United States.
  5. Have ties to your home country that show your intent to return after you are done studying in the United States since the F-1 visa program is a temporary visa.
  6. Live outside the United States when you apply.

Documents Needed to Apply For F1 Visa as a Canadian Citizen

Canadian students are expected to extensively review the information on their I-20 and also ensure that their passports won’t expire shortly. You will also have to collect the following documents:

  • Form I-20, properly endorsed
  • Valid Canadian passport
  • SEVIS Fee Receipt (Form I-901)
  • Acceptance letter into an academic institution approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP)
  • Financial aid (scholarship/grant) letter
  • Financial documentation provided to the academic institution for issuance of an I-20 form
  • Copy of course registration or unofficial transcript.

How to Apply for an F1 Visa as a Canadian Student

The steps you have to take will vary between different academic institutions and different consulates or points of entry; therefore ensure you check their websites for further information. Nonetheless, here are basic steps to consider;

  1. Apply and Gain Admission into a SEVP Approved Institution

Truth be told, different academic institutions will have different admission policies. However, your institution of choice will let you know what they need to evaluate if you are academically eligible.

Coupled with these requirements, you will also have to show the institution that you have substantial financial resources to support yourself while studying and you may also have to show health insurance particularly to cover medical expenses in case you require medical assistance.

Once the academic institution has considered your application and deemed you academically eligible, you will be provided with an I-20 form to enable you to apply for your student visa.

  1. Get Registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)

After your SEVP-approved school accepts your enrolment and offers you admission, you will be registered into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

SEVP tend to leverage SEVIS to track and monitor schools; exchange visitor programs; and F, M, and J non-immigrants while they visit the United States and participate in the U.S. education system. Note that once you have been registered with SEVIS, you will be expected to pay the I-901 fee. This fee is currently $350 for most people and funds the SEVP program.

  1. Obtain Form I-20

Once you have been offered admission and registered into the SEVIS, note that your SEVP-approved school will have to provide issue you with a Form I-20. Have in mind that this form is very crucial especially since it confirms your acceptance at the school, and also your eligibility for the F1 visa. Immediately after this Form I-20 has been issued, you can then apply to a U.S. embassy or consulate for your F-1 visa.

  1. Fill Other Forms

To apply for an F1 visa, you will be expected to complete the Form DS-160, which is similar to the Form DS-260 for immigrant visas. Note that this form is very comprehensive and can take some time to fill in, therefore make sure you take your time to correctly complete it.

Once you have filled this Form DS-160, you will have to schedule an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate, unless you are under 13 years of age or over 80 years of age, or you intend to be processed at the Border.

  1. Schedule and Appear for Interview

Before your interview, you will be expected to pay the $160 application fee, however, note that Canadian citizens are not expected to pay an issuance fee. During your interview, the consular officer will ask certain questions to evaluate whether or not to approve your F1 visa.

It is important that you accurately provide answers to these questions, as you will be under oath. After your visa interview, the consular officer will then determine if your application needs further administrative processing. Most often, they will let you know if this is necessary. You will also be informed of the outcome and, if successful, be issued a visa to study in the United States.