Canadian Citizens- Acquiring F-1 Visa Status at a U-S- Port of Entry Skip Navigation

Canadian Citizens: Acquiring F-1 Visa Status at a U.S. Port of Entry

This information is intended only for students who are citizens of Canada. This information does not apply to non-Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.
As a Canadian citizen, you do not need to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy as other international students need to do. Instead, you request F-1 visa status at the port of entry. The “port of entry” is the place you enter the USA which could be an airport or a border crossing. All other F-1 immigration regulations apply to you. You should be extra cautious when you enter the USA to be sure you enter as an F-1 student as immigration officials at the port of entry are accustomed to admitting Canadians as visitors. If you enter the USA as a visitor, you would need to return to Canada and reenter the USA in F-1 student status before you could study at Colgate University.
Step 1
When you receive your I-20, you will need to check the following:
  • Is your name spelled correctly and according to how it appears in your passport?
  • Are your date of birth, country of birth, and country citizenship all listed correctly?
  • Is it signed by the Designated School Official (DSO) on page one? (Note: The I-20 will not be signed by the DSO on page three as the signatures on page three are only for reentry to the USA.)
Please read the instructions on page two of the I-20 and sign page one. Signing the I-20 means that you understand the regulations of F-1 visa status.
Step 2
Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee ($200 USD) online at More Information on the SEVIS fee can be found at Once you pay the fee, print your receipt and keep it with your I-20.
Step 3
When entering the USA at either an airport or land border crossing, you will present the immigration officer with all of the following:
  • I-20 issued by Colgate University
  • SEVIS I-901 Fee Receipt
  • Valid passport
  • Proof of financial support. If you have financial aid from Colgate, you should present your financial aid letter. If you will be supported fully or partially by your own funds, or by a sponsor (parent, relative, etc.), you should bring recent bank statements. 
  • For those entering the U.S. at a land crossing: Completed I-94 form (provided to you at the port of entry)

Be prepared to answer the following questions:
  • What is your purpose for entering the USA? Example: I will study at Colgate University.
  • Why did you choose to study at Colgate University as opposed to a university in Canada?
  • How will you support yourself at Colgate University? Examples: I have an athletic scholarship that covers my tuition and room and board; I have received a scholarship from Colgate that covers part of the expenses, and my parents will support me as well; etc.
  • What do you plan to do once you graduate?