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Important Information for International Students From the U.S.

It is very important for all international students from the U.S. going to Canada to consult an International Student Adviser at their own university.  The requirements for travel and reentry may be different for different students. 

Reentering the USA
Most international students are in F-1 status.  In order to reenter the United States, they need to have their visa document (I-20) signed within the previous 6 months by an International Student Adviser. Students in J-1 immigration status must have their visa document (DS-2019) signed within the previous year.  (If the DS-2019 was issued by the Department of State rather than by the school, it must be signed by an official at IIE (Institute for International Education).

For most of these students their US visa will not be a problem even if it has expired, or even if the student has changed immigration status. That is because most students are allowed to reenter with an expired nonimmigrant visa or a visa in a different nonimmigrant category IF they travel ONLY to Canada for 30 days or fewer.  There are 2 exceptions:

1.  Students must not apply for a new visa while in Canada;

2.  Students cannot be from a "State Sponsor of Terrorism," meaning: Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, or Cuba.

If the student is a "national" of one of those countries, s/he should probably not go.

Students should also generally have a passport that does not expire for at least 6 months after they reenter (although there are some exceptions to this 6 month rule).

Entering Canada
Some students will not need a Canadian visa, others will, depending on their citizenship (see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp for a list).  Those who need visas will probably apply for their Canadian visas at different consulates depending on the location of their schools in the USA.  There are consulates in Buffalo, Detroit, New York, Washington DC, Seattle and L.A.

Canada will not issue a visa if they think that a student might not be allowed to reenter the USA.

Other considerations
Individual students may have other concerns--for example, if a student has applied for permanent residency, s/he will probably not wish to travel unless s/he has been granted employment authorization and "advance parole."

The most important thing is for students to plan ahead and to discuss their individual situations with an International Student Adviser or whatever the equivalent is at their university.  In most
cases it should be pretty simple, but there could be complications for some individuals.