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I am a Canadian citizen, and I intend to travel to the US for a student clinical elective at a university in Texas for the months of September and October. The university will help me obtain an F-1 status. However, I want to attend a few conferences and educational seminars which are being held in November/December for which I will be using a B1/B2 visa.

Will I have to leave the US and come back in November using a B1/B2 visa, or is there another way to change my visa status, or can I apply for both visas upon entering the US?

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As a Canadian citizen, you do not normally need a visa at all to enter the US temporarily for many (non-work) purposes. From Information for Canadians from the US embassy in Ottawa:

Canadian citizens do not require a visa to enter the United States directly from Canada for the purposes of visiting or studying.

Do note also that:

A visitor who intends to live, work or study in the U.S. without disclosing this information beforehand may be permanently barred from the U.S.

So you must tell the US immigration officer that you intend to study.

There is also further detail from the Canadian government travel site:

Canadian students are no longer allowed to begin study in the U.S. without a valid Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20). This document is issued by the U.S. school and sent directly to the applicant. Students must have their Form I-20 in their possession each time they enter the U.S. for presentation to CBP officers. They should also have documentary evidence of sufficient funds to cover travel, tuition and living expenses in the U.S. for at least the first year of schooling, such as a notarized bank statement or letter from a parent/guardian attesting to the funds.

And more info from Student Visa:

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not require visas to enter the United States as students, although they must present a valid Form I-20 at the time of admission. For more information see information for Citizens of Canada and Bermuda.

So you would need an I-20 form for your study but you do not need an F-1 visa. You don't need any additional documentation or visa for attending seminars. There is also no need to leave the US between your studies and the seminars.

  • As with all advice in the internet, check with a legal advisor (or at minimum, the school's foreign students' office). – RoboKaren Aug 5 '14 at 3:16
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    Exactly, don't believe just what I say. I have tried to support my answer with links to official sites, which should help people who are evaluating their own visa requirements. – Greg Hewgill Aug 5 '14 at 3:20
  • Would they get an I-94 as well, or does the I-20 replace that in this instance? – CGCampbell Sep 4 '14 at 14:26
  • @CGCampbell the I-20 is distinct from the I-94; it does not replace it. I don't know whether Canadians entering in F status get an I-94, though, or if they did before the I-94 was "automated." Those entering in B status, I think, do not get one, but it might be different for other (less routine) statuses. – phoog Feb 28 '17 at 19:40

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