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The Lowdown on Visa & Immigration in North America

With Visa First

Posted: 23rd January 2015 15:28

With Visa First


Student Visas

The United States welcomes foreign students to American language schools, high schools, universities and other institutions of higher education.  Thousands of learning institutions are approved to accept foreign students full time.  It is possible to change schools and universities while being on an F-1 Visa without leaving the country.

F-1 Visa (Academic Visa) - If you wish to attend a university or other academic institution in the United States, including primary and secondary schools, or a language training program,youwillrequire an F-1 visa.  It is possible in certain limited circumstances for the holder of an F-1 visa to obtain permission to work in the United States.  You can remain in the U.S. for up to 60 days following the completion of the course or practical training on your F-1 visa.

M-1 Visa (Nonacademic Visa) - If you wish to pursue a course of study which is not principally academic in nature at an established vocational or other recognised nonacademic institution such as a post secondary vocational or business school you require an M-1 visa.  Holders of M-1 visas may only engage in employment if it is a required part of their practical training and the employment has been approved in advance by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.  As a holder of an M-1 visa you may remain in the United States for the period of time it will take to complete the course of study as indicated on the I-20M plus 30 days, or for one year, whichever is less.  Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join you in the United States for the duration of your stay require derivative F-2 or M-2 Visas.

Working Holiday Visas

If you want to travel to the USA under Work and Holiday arrangements, you are required to be sponsored by a registered sponsoring organisation.  There is a list of sponsoring organisations on the US Department of State website. See:Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

You must also meet one of the following:

  • be enrolled as a post-secondary student
  • be enrolled as a post-secondary student and have deferred study
  • have graduated within the last 12 months from a post-secondary institution. 

Volunteer Visas

Anyone going to the United States with the intention of working there temporarily requires a nonimmigrant work visa.  Persons entering the United States on a visitor or business visa or under the  Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are not permitted to work.

Unlike some countries, the United States government does not issue work visas for casual employment.  In general, work visas are based on a specific offer of employment.


Student Visas

If you wish to study in Canada for more than 6 months you will need Canadian Student Visa. 

There are more than 150,000 international students who go to Canada every year to study.  Canadian universities and colleges are respected worldwide for their high quality of education.  Tuition fees for international students in Canada, and the cost of living, are among the lowest in the world.  Eligible students can gain valuable Canadian work experience through off campus employment. 

Your eligibility for a Canadian Student Visa is assessed according to a number of factors including:

The course you wish to study;

The educational institution you wish to study at;

Your age;

Your country of citizenship;

Your financial capacity to cover tuition fees, living expenses for yourself and your family in Canada and return transportation for yourself and your family;

Your character;

Your health and willingness to complete a medical examination, if necessary;

Your capacity to satisfy an immigration officer that you will leave Canada when you have completed your studies.

Working Holiday Visas

The Working Holiday Visa for Canada provides opportunities for young people from 29 countries among which Irish, British and Australians to enjoy extended holidays in Canada and gives them the opportunity to work for up to 24 months.

To be eligible for the Canada Working Holiday Visa you must:

Hold a passport valid for the entire period of your intended stay in Canada (three years minimum validity is recommended) and;

Be aged 18-30 years inclusive at the time your application is received if you are from the United Kingdom or Australia.  Be aged 18-35 years inclusive the time your application is received if you are from Ireland.  Your application must be received on or after your 18th birthday, or before your 31st birthday if you are from the United Kingdom or Australia, or before your 36th birthday if you are from Ireland, and;

Be medically and criminally admissible to Canada under the Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. 

Possess sufficient funds (CA$2,500) for your maintenance during your initial period of stay in Canada.

Possess a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket. 

Agree to undergo a medical examination by a physician recognised by the Canadian government to obtain authorisation to visit Canada if you wish to undertake work which will bring you into close contact with: people namely in the health services field occupations, primary or secondary school, teaching or childcare. 

Agree to hold medical and comprehensive hospitalisation and liability insurance to remain in force throughout your stay in Canada.  

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