Canadians citizens may enroll as either part-time or full-time students. (Full time consists of a minimum of 12 credits a semester for undergraduates and nine credits graduate students.) Canadian Landed Immigrants may enroll only as full-time students and need a visa to enter to the United States. Regardless of whether you enroll part time or full time, we will issue you an I-20 form, which will allow you to enter the U.S. in F-1 (student) status.
Full-time students will receive an I-20 valid for the duration of their program (usually four years for undergraduates and two years for graduate students). In order to maintain F-1 status, you must be enrolled for a full course of study in the fall and winter terms (for two consecutive semesters) each academic year. As a student in F-1 status, you will be eligible to work on campus. You will also be eligible to work off campus (with certain restrictions); however, off-campus employment requires authorization either by the International Services Office or by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), depending on the type of employment. Please consult the foreign student advisor for further information.
If you plan to be a full-time student, but continue to live in Canada and commute to classes, we will issue you an I-20 form marked "commute to classes." Full-time commuting students in F-1 status are eligible to work in the U.S. as described above.
Part-time students will receive an I-20, which is valid for one semester only. You will have to apply to the International Services Office for a new I-20 each subsequent semester you are enrolled. Your I-20 will be marked "Border Commuter Student." You may not live in the U.S. However, with ISO or USCIS authorization; you are eligible for certain types of employment. Please consult the foreign student advisor for further information.
Checking in at the International Services OfficeIt is very important that all Canadian students visit the International Services Office as soon as they enter the U.S. to attend classes. Since they have similar cultures and enjoy easy access to one another's countries, Canadians and Americans sometimes forget that, once they cross the border, they are in a foreign country and subject to that country's immigration laws. Canadians who fail to check in and to familiarize themselves with ISO services and U.S. immigration regulations (particularly those pertaining to work) can easily experience problems and miss opportunities. So, whether you are part time or full time, make sure that you check in at the ISO and that you understand the regulations pertaining to your status.
Working in the U.S.
F-1 students who are maintaining a full course of study are eligible to work on campus 20 hours per week while school is in session and more than 20 hours per week during a vacation period. If you obtain an on-campus job, the employing department will inform you of the proper procedures to follow. Teaching and research assistantships are considered on-campus employment. Remuneration for these positions may include tuition remission, a stipend or both.
F-1 students are eligible to work off campus in their field of study after they have been in status for two consecutive academic semesters. This is called practical training. There are two types of practical training:
Curricular Practical Training (Co-op). While you are a student at Detroit Mercy, you may arrange to work in your field at an off-campus location. To qualify for curricular practical training, the off-campus work must either be done as a practicum or internship that is an established and integral part of your curriculum, or it must be arranged through the Department of Cooperative Education. This type of work must be authorized by the ISO and the authorization must be renewed each semester. Working without authorization involves serious consequences for both the employer and the employee. Please consult the foreign student advisor for more information.
Optional Practical Training. Optional practical training is usually done after graduation. F-1 students are eligible for one year of full-time work in their field. This work must be authorized by USCIS. The ISO will help you apply for authorization and has application packets available. Since USCIS usually takes several months to process applications for OPT, you are advised to submit your application about four months before you complete your studies.
TN StatusUnder the terms of the NAFTA trade agreement, Canadian citizens in certain professions are eligible to work in the U.S. in TN status. If you qualify, working in TN status has advantages over doing optional practical training while in F-1 status. Application for TN is made at a port of entry and, if the applicant is eligible, the status is granted immediately by the officer. TN is currently renewable in increments indefinitely. However, you must have a job offer from a prospective American employer, whereas no job offer is necessary when applying for optional practical training. See the foreign student advisor for more information on TN.