Law School Discussion

Specific Groups => Canadian Law Students => Topic started by: MorningStar on February 06, 2007, 03:55:47 PM

Title: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: MorningStar on February 06, 2007, 03:55:47 PM
Hi guys!

I was browsing the Oh Canada! board and it occured to me that a post had yet to be established outlining the steps and pertinent information associated with obtaining a U.S student visa. 

If anyone has any experience with where you apply, how long it takes, requirements, cost, etc. your input would be much appreciated and would likely be of use to many people (including myself). 

I'm in the process of researching the issue and will add information as I obtain it if nobody else posts.

Thanks
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: gillesthegreat on February 06, 2007, 06:49:48 PM
I believe you need your letter of acceptance, the I-94, and the financial documentation. And then show up at the border. Did you check the USCIS website?
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 07, 2007, 07:18:02 PM
I think gilles is right.  The USCIS website (or something similar) has detailed information regarding this.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: ButImAGilmore on February 11, 2007, 07:20:51 PM
Figured I would ask this here....

I just saw something today on the UCLA website about visas that worried me a bit. It said that after your degree and a year of practical training, you have 60 days to leave the US. Does that mean you have to leave even if you have a job? Or if you get a job (and presumably a work visa / green card) does that requirement to leave just vanish?
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 11, 2007, 07:22:49 PM
Figured I would ask this here....

I just saw something today on the UCLA website about visas that worried me a bit. It said that after your degree and a year of practical training, you have 60 days to leave the US. Does that mean you have to leave even if you have a job? Or if you get a job (and presumably a work visa / green card) does that requirement to leave just vanish?


If you have a job, then you don't have to worry.  However, if you're a Canadian citizen and not a US citizen, then you need to get your NAFTA visa so you can work in the US.  That expires yearly.

The 60 days is an "evacuation" period.  That means that, once your time's up, they'll give you 60 days to pack all your *&^% and get the hell out of their country.  After that, you go to jail or get shipped out whether your stuff is still in the States or not.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Geo_Storm on February 11, 2007, 07:29:54 PM
Figured I would ask this here....

I just saw something today on the UCLA website about visas that worried me a bit. It said that after your degree and a year of practical training, you have 60 days to leave the US. Does that mean you have to leave even if you have a job? Or if you get a job (and presumably a work visa / green card) does that requirement to leave just vanish?


If you have a job, then you don't have to worry.  However, if you're a Canadian citizen and not a US citizen, then you need to get your NAFTA visa so you can work in the US.  That expires yearly.

The 60 days is an "evacuation" period.  That means that, once your time's up, they'll give you 60 days to pack all your sh*t and get the hell out of their country.  After that, you go to jail or get shipped out whether your stuff is still in the States or not.


That sounds ridiculously more scary than it really is. I mean, as a Canadian citizen, I can pack all my *&^% up, go back to Canada, and come back to the US the next day no? I guess it'll be more important for us to find a job quickly after graduation.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 11, 2007, 07:32:13 PM
It's very simple.  If you have a job, you're safe.  If you don't have a job, you're living on borrowed time (your CPT or OPT, which adds up to a year, max).

But you can imagine what a hassle it would be to have to move out of the country and then have to move back again.  It's nothing to panic about, but it could be a major pain in the ass.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 11, 2007, 08:44:08 PM
Don't compound my frustrations.   >:(
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Geo_Storm on February 11, 2007, 08:52:18 PM
Don't compound my frustrations.   >:(

sorry d-dub out
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 11, 2007, 08:57:39 PM
 :D :D :D
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: sladkaya on February 11, 2007, 09:03:15 PM
Figured I would ask this here....

I just saw something today on the UCLA website about visas that worried me a bit. It said that after your degree and a year of practical training, you have 60 days to leave the US. Does that mean you have to leave even if you have a job? Or if you get a job (and presumably a work visa / green card) does that requirement to leave just vanish?


If you have a job, then you don't have to worry.  However, if you're a Canadian citizen and not a US citizen, then you need to get your NAFTA visa so you can work in the US.  That expires yearly.


You can get the T-1 and renew it every year (but I think you have to travel to Canada and then re-enter) or you can get an H-1 like the rest of us :D  It's good for 3 years and renewable for 3 more (plus every year after that if a green card is pending).  You employer will likely petition for your green card once you begin working, which for JDs will take about 2 years, give or take a year.

hope I helped
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 11, 2007, 09:11:42 PM
HB-1s are difficult to get, and probably won't be your first stab at it.  It costs your employed a nice sum, and there are a limited number of HB-1s available per year.  But it does afford you 3 safe years.

You do have to exit and enter for the T-1, generally, although I think there are loopholes around that.  In any case, as long as you have a job, you'll be able to stay in the US.  It's that simple.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Temporary Relief Assistant Trailer Park Supervisor on February 15, 2007, 09:36:01 PM
Don't forget your 12 months of OPT.

What is Optional Practical Training?
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization that gives F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off campus. You may use some or all of the available 12 months of practical training during your course of study or save the full twelve months to use after you complete your studies.

So, wouldn't you not have to worry about a visa until ~9 months after you graduate-- assuming 3 months used up your 2L summer?
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 15, 2007, 09:48:10 PM
It's very simple.  If you have a job, you're safe.  If you don't have a job, you're living on borrowed time (your CPT or OPT, which adds up to a year, max).

But you can imagine what a hassle it would be to have to move out of the country and then have to move back again.  It's nothing to panic about, but it could be a major pain in the ass.


 ;D
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Geo_Storm on February 15, 2007, 10:17:33 PM
I'm so confused. What do I need now for schol? That's what i'm most ocncerned about right now.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 15, 2007, 10:18:56 PM
What do you mean, "What do I need"?


Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Geo_Storm on February 15, 2007, 10:32:45 PM
What do you mean, "What do I need"?




I mean, for now I just need a F right?
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 15, 2007, 10:35:44 PM
F-1 visa?  Yes, basically.  Go read the US customs website (I think it's that one).  It's pretty user-friendly. 
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: gillesthegreat on February 16, 2007, 12:49:26 AM
Yes, you will need an F-1. For this, you need - at least - a formal letter of acceptance, and proof of sufficient funds. You must also show some substantial ties to Canada; something that would make you come back and not escape to the US wilderness. They ask for an address, usually. It can be your parents. 'Substantial ties' is rather broad.

And get ready for stupid questions like "why do you want to study US law"? And you must absolutely not tell them that you plan on staying in the US afterwards. You are there for studies, and then you come back.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Temporary Relief Assistant Trailer Park Supervisor on February 16, 2007, 11:47:30 AM
It's very simple.  If you have a job, you're safe.  If you don't have a job, you're living on borrowed time (your CPT or OPT, which adds up to a year, max).

But you can imagine what a hassle it would be to have to move out of the country and then have to move back again.  It's nothing to panic about, but it could be a major pain in the ass.


 ;D

Haha, sorry, I missed that post.  I don't think you can stay in the country on OPT if you're not working, however.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 16, 2007, 12:35:44 PM
Nope.  But you do have that available sans NAFTA/HB-1.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: sladkaya on February 16, 2007, 02:34:13 PM
It's very simple.  If you have a job, you're safe.  If you don't have a job, you're living on borrowed time (your CPT or OPT, which adds up to a year, max).

But you can imagine what a hassle it would be to have to move out of the country and then have to move back again.  It's nothing to panic about, but it could be a major pain in the ass.


 ;D

Haha, sorry, I missed that post.  I don't think you can stay in the country on OPT if you're not working, however.

You can if you can document that you are actively seeking employment at that time - log of jobs you applied to, interviews, resumes sent out, etc.  I personally know someone who's done that.  On an H-1 though, if you lose your job, you have 60 days, I think, to find a new employer or pack up and leave.

One more thing - to apply for the F-1, your school needs to issue an I-20 to you - just ask the admissions office after you pay your deposit.  Then make a consulate appointment and use the link J gave you to get all your supporting docs together.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: FunkyzeitmitBruno on February 16, 2007, 05:27:09 PM
It's very simple.  If you have a job, you're safe.  If you don't have a job, you're living on borrowed time (your CPT or OPT, which adds up to a year, max).

But you can imagine what a hassle it would be to have to move out of the country and then have to move back again.  It's nothing to panic about, but it could be a major pain in the ass.


 ;D

Haha, sorry, I missed that post.  I don't think you can stay in the country on OPT if you're not working, however.

You can if you can document that you are actively seeking employment at that time - log of jobs you applied to, interviews, resumes sent out, etc.  I personally know someone who's done that.  On an H-1 though, if you lose your job, you have 60 days, I think, to find a new employer or pack up and leave.

One more thing - to apply for the F-1, your school needs to issue an I-20 to you - just ask the admissions office after you pay your deposit.  Then make a consulate appointment and use the link J gave you to get all your supporting docs together.

If you're Canadian, you don't need to get a consulate/embassy appointment. In fact, you don't need an F1 visa in the same way that non-Canadian international students do.

All you need is your I-20. Go to the border whenever you're ready to leave Canada, show the I-20, proof that you can pay for your education, acceptance letter, and passport (in fact only the I-20 and passport are needed in practice, but in theory you need all 4). They'll give you an I-94 when you cross the border marked F-1 on it.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 16, 2007, 05:53:25 PM
Funkyzeit with the win.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Geo_Storm on February 16, 2007, 08:13:45 PM
It's very simple.  If you have a job, you're safe.  If you don't have a job, you're living on borrowed time (your CPT or OPT, which adds up to a year, max).

But you can imagine what a hassle it would be to have to move out of the country and then have to move back again.  It's nothing to panic about, but it could be a major pain in the ass.


 ;D

Haha, sorry, I missed that post.  I don't think you can stay in the country on OPT if you're not working, however.

You can if you can document that you are actively seeking employment at that time - log of jobs you applied to, interviews, resumes sent out, etc.  I personally know someone who's done that.  On an H-1 though, if you lose your job, you have 60 days, I think, to find a new employer or pack up and leave.

One more thing - to apply for the F-1, your school needs to issue an I-20 to you - just ask the admissions office after you pay your deposit.  Then make a consulate appointment and use the link J gave you to get all your supporting docs together.

If you're Canadian, you don't need to get a consulate/embassy appointment. In fact, you don't need an F1 visa in the same way that non-Canadian international students do.

All you need is your I-20. Go to the border whenever you're ready to leave Canada, show the I-20, proof that you can pay for your education, acceptance letter, and passport (in fact only the I-20 and passport are needed in practice, but in theory you need all 4). They'll give you an I-94 when you cross the border marked F-1 on it.

Where do I get this I-20? And what constitutes proof of my ability to pay?
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 16, 2007, 08:20:27 PM
Loan forms/signed statements about your parents' finances from the bank/etc.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Lil Orphan Annie on February 27, 2007, 09:42:52 PM
Yes, you will need an F-1. For this, you need - at least - a formal letter of acceptance, and proof of sufficient funds. You must also show some substantial ties to Canada; something that would make you come back and not escape to the US wilderness. They ask for an address, usually. It can be your parents. 'Substantial ties' is rather broad.

And get ready for stupid questions like "why do you want to study US law"? And you must absolutely not tell them that you plan on staying in the US afterwards. You are there for studies, and then you come back.

Really?  Ugh.  And I thought the U.S. customs were bullies.  What the hell does Canada care if I decide I want a change of scenery and move out?  Are they going to DENY me the F-1 if I tell them the truth: i.e., "I am spending the extra money for US schooling because I obviously want to practice there seeing as a degree from there would be useless in Canada anyway?"  I don't see what I can B.S. to make them believe otherwise..."Oh yeah, I'm dropping fifty grand a year just for boredom's sake...don't you worry, I'll be back in Canada after three years, lickety split!" Honestly. 
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: nerfco on February 27, 2007, 10:03:34 PM
Yes, you will need an F-1. For this, you need - at least - a formal letter of acceptance, and proof of sufficient funds. You must also show some substantial ties to Canada; something that would make you come back and not escape to the US wilderness. They ask for an address, usually. It can be your parents. 'Substantial ties' is rather broad.

And get ready for stupid questions like "why do you want to study US law"? And you must absolutely not tell them that you plan on staying in the US afterwards. You are there for studies, and then you come back.

Really?  Ugh.  And I thought the U.S. customs were bullies.  What the hell does Canada care if I decide I want a change of scenery and move out?  Are they going to DENY me the F-1 if I tell them the truth: i.e., "I am spending the extra money for US schooling because I obviously want to practice there seeing as a degree from there would be useless in Canada anyway?"  I don't see what I can B.S. to make them believe otherwise..."Oh yeah, I'm dropping fifty grand a year just for boredom's sake...don't you worry, I'll be back in Canada after three years, lickety split!" Honestly. 

Err, I believe all these questions are asked by the US. Canada isn't trying to keep you in, the US is trying to keep you out. The US wants you to have ties to Canada, so they know you aren't trying to immigrate to America. Even though you are.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on February 28, 2007, 12:15:48 AM
Bingo.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: MorningStar on March 01, 2007, 03:45:39 PM
I think I'm getting a better understanding of how this process works but one big question still remains;  What is the contingency plan should one be unable to secure employment?  Also it is my understanding that a green card can take 5 years + to be approved even if you are sponsored by your employer.  This means you are required to stay with this employer, less you start the whole process again. 

If I spend 150,000$ on a U.S education I need to be sure I won't be booted back to Canada (which I now cannot practice in). 

Furthermore do you think Law firms would be much less likely to hire a Canadian graduate given the complications of their immigration status? 

!! I find the citizenship issue more stressful then the financing of a U.S legal education.   
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on March 01, 2007, 04:55:40 PM
Well, I don't really want to be the one to send you into a panic spin, but that's exactly the risk you're taking: gambling $150K on getting that job.

But I don't think it's time to stress about it yet.  Consider a few things:

1.  Unless you attend a poor school, your chances of passing the bar and finding a job within 9 months are pretty good (80+%).
2.  Once you have that job, while it's a bit of a pain in the ass, it's easy to stay in the US indefinitely as a Canadian citizen.
3.  You actually CAN practice in Canada with a US law degree.  Some firms in bigger cities look for JDs to cover certain practice areas.  You can also practice in legal fields that do not require a call to the bar with just a JD.  Furthermore, an extra year of studies at most Canadian legal institutions can give you the chance to be called to the bar in Canada, so it's not like the education was useless to you.  And it will give you an area of expertise that many others lack, which is appealing to most employers in the field.
4.  And, after five years or so, it gets much easier to transfer between the two countries, and you should already have paid off a large amount of your loans, so that won't be weighing on your mind anymore.
5.  Even if all else fails, it's just debt.  Yes, it's scary, and yes, if you don't take it seriously, it can debilitate you for life, but if you're reasonable and intelligent about it, 9 times out of 10 you should be able to find your way out of it.  Okay, it'll feel like the JD was a waste of time, but you never know when it's going to come back to be in your favor.  And that's not something you can worry about now, anyway.  You need to LIVE your life.

The risk is great, but it's not dangerous.  If your reasons for coming to the US to practice law are good, then I believe it's a risk worth taking.  So don't panic.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: chucky on May 29, 2007, 09:54:44 AM
One way to stay that has not been mentioned is to marry an American...that's actually the safest bet. (although it does have the obvious drawback of being married)

I heard that even if you graduate in a competitive spot in your class from a good school, it is still very difficult to get a job as a Canadian, and that many firms won't even offer interviews to int students because of the hassel with the visas...anyone have any knowledge on this (hopefully that contradict this, actually)
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on May 29, 2007, 11:50:09 AM
One way to stay that has not been mentioned is to marry an American...that's actually the safest bet. (although it does have the obvious drawback of being married)

I heard that even if you graduate in a competitive spot in your class from a good school, it is still very difficult to get a job as a Canadian, and that many firms won't even offer interviews to int students because of the hassel with the visas...anyone have any knowledge on this (hopefully that contradict this, actually)


Actually, unlike most international students, Canadians DON'T have this problem.  That's because under NAFTA policies we have our own visa (the TN-1) which means we don't have to apply for an HB-1.  The former costs your employer nothing but offering you a job and letting you keep it.  The latter costs your employer thousands of dollars and a whole lot of paperwork.  This does make them leery to hire foreign nationals.

But, like I said, if you're Canadian (or Mexican), this shouldn't be an issue for you.
Title: Re: Getting a U.S Student Visa - An Overview
Post by: Astro on May 29, 2007, 11:55:45 AM
FWIW, this is the best summary of the process I've read on LSD, and I can vouch for all this information (checked it last year and it was still all correct):

http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,7166.msg99961.html#msg99961