Travel to Canada

Travel to Canada is considered departing the U.S. Most of the travel rules and documentation requirements still apply when entering Canada and returning to the U.S. from Canada.

A valid travel endorsement is required to re-enter the U.S. from Canada. ISS processing times for a travel endorsement is 7-10 business days. We cannot expedite travel endorsement requests to accommodate last minute trips to Canada, so please plan ahead. 

Do I need a Canadian Visa? How do I apply for a Canadian Visa?

F-1 and J-1 student visa holders may need a visa, even for a one-day trip to Canada. Although ISS cannot review or advise you on the specifics of the Canadian visa process, we can provide resources and general tips for travel.

If you need a visa to visit Canada, before you mail your visa application to the Canadian consulate, make sure that you have a valid travel endorsement on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. (The Canadian Consulate will only accept visitor visa applications by mail. It is not possible to apply in person.)  

For more detailed information concerning Visitors Visas, refer to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

For additional information on Canadian tourism visit the Canadian Tourism Commission

Return to the United States

Returning to the U.S. from Canada is very similar to returning to the U.S. from any other country. You and your dependents must have the proper documents to re-enter the US. Carefully review our Travel page to determine which documents are required for your situation.

We also recommend that you review our current travel alerts before planning any international travel. 

Important Notes about Travel to Canada

  • We will not be able to endorse your I-20/DS-2019 (nor your dependents' I-20/DS-2019) if you have completed your program (completed degree requirements, Academic Training, OPT) and would like to travel to Canada during your grace period. 
    • Once you depart the U.S. during your Grace Period (60-days after program/OPT completion for F-1 students, 30-days after program end date/AT completion for J-1 students) you cannot re-enter in F or J status. Please plan your travel with this in mind.
  • Travel to Canada while on Post-Completion OPT or the OPT STEM Extension is permitted. Please review our travel information for students on OPT to learn more. 

Travel Topics for Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens do not need a visa stamp to enter the United States, however you must be sure to receive your F-1/J-1 I-94 record from Customs and Border Official during your initial entry to the U.S. When entering the U.S. for the first time in F-1 or J-1 Status (or returning after a break in studies with a new initial I-20) please note the following:

  • You must have your I-20 (2 page document) printed in hand at the time of your entry.
  • You must also have proof of SEVIS Fee payment - print your payment receipt.
  • You must have a valid Canadian passport.
  • Canadian citizens do not need a U.S. Visa.

All Canadian citizen F-1 and J-1 students arriving by air or at a land border will receive an electronic I-94. You will be charged a small fee to process the I-94 record. In the past, some Canadian students received paper I-94s. They have since been phased out.

ISS must receive a copy of your I-94 to verify your immigration status. Failure to provide your I-94 to ISS will result in a violation of status. We also recommend saving a copy of your I-94 record upon your return to the U.S. as evidence of your legal status.

If you are admitted as a visitor (or tourist) without receiving an I-94 record noting your immigration status (e.g., F-1, J-1, etc), you will have to return to Canada and re-enter again. 

Customs and Border Protection agents are most familiar with admitting Canadian citizens as visitors, not full-time students, it is your responsibility to make sure you are granted the correct immigration status when you are entering the U.S.