Americans and international students mix in a residence hall at Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary. (SJ HARMON PHOTOGRAPHY)

In Trust takes no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of these explanations. Schools should seek their own expert counsel to determine what laws apply to them and their students.

The details of visas, permits, and certificates can be confusing to North Americans and baffling to international students. Some schools cut through the complexity with explicit instructions on their Web sites. Posted publicly, this information is designed for potential and current students, but board members should also be aware of the legal requirements foreign students must fulfill in order to enter and study in North America legally.

Board members should also recognize the school's own legal responsibilities. For example, if an international student on a student visa withdraws or stops attending classes, the school may be required to notify the appropriate authorities.

An example from the United States

Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary, an evangelical, nondenominational school in Portland, Oregon, serves as a good example of explaining U.S. visa requirements in a forthright manner.

The complete version of this information, abridged here and reprinted with the permission of Multnomah, can be found on their web site.

International students

Multnomah welcomes those whose citizenship is in a country other than the United States. Some international students may find our way of life much like theirs at home and need very little help in adjusting to the new surroundings. Others will find new and strange circumstances and have many questions. The Registrar is also the International Student Advisor and will gladly work with international students in answering questions, solving problems, defining procedures and explaining immigration forms. You may also direct questions regarding immigration regulations to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

As an international student at Multnomah, your programs and activities will be very similar to those of any other student. However, unlike other students, you will need to understand and observe certain specific United States government regulations and procedures. The following definitions and explanations will enable you to be aware of these and adhere to them.

F-1 student

This student is an alien who has entered the United States on an "F-1 visa" to be enrolled in a full-time educational program, but they have no intention of remaining in the United States. They are also known as "non-immigrant students."


This is an entry permit. The form is issued to the international student at the port of entry giving him/her permission to enter the United States. Record of date of arrival is kept on this form, which is normally stapled to a page in the passport.

Immigrant student

This is a student who has permanent resident status in the United States. The student is permitted to stay indefinitely, may work at will, may or may not enroll in college, may become a citizen, and is subject to selective service.

Duration of stay

As an F-1 student, you are authorized to be in the United States for the period of time known as "duration of status" (marked as D/S on your I-94). This period includes the time a student is pursuing a full course of study and making satisfactory progress in an educational program. After completing the program, a student has 60 days to leave the country.

Extension of stay

As an F-1 student, you do not have to apply for an extension of stay as long as you maintain status and make normal progress toward a complete education objective as indicated on your Form I-20. If you cannot meet the expected completion date, and your program is satisfactory, you must apply to the Registrar for a program extension in the 30-day period before that date.


Multnomah requires all international students to have personal health insurance. This must be purchased prior to the first day of class each semester. Verification of adequate insurance coverage must be provided at that time.


This is the travel document issued by an individual's country of citizenship that permits him/her to depart from and return to his/her own country. Passports are generally valid for a limited period of time only. However, here in the United States they can normally be renewed at the Foreign Consulate or Embassy of an individual's country of citizenship. Re-entering the United States. An international student must be particularly careful to carry the correct documents for re-entry when leaving the United States at any time. During the school year, a properly endorsed Form I-20 and valid visa, if applicable, will be required for re-entry. Be sure to request this form from the Registrar in advance before your departure.

On-campus employment

If this is available, on-campus employment by F-1 students is permitted as long as the student works no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session. Students may be employed full-time during vacations and recess periods, so long as they intend to register for the next term.

Off-campus employment

This may be available as determined by the U.S. immigration service based on economic hardship.You must be in good academic standing and have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year. Details regarding requirements for off-campus employment are available from the Registrar.

An example from Canada

Providence College and Theological Seminary, an evangelical, nondenominational school in Otterburne, Manitoba, clearly explains Canadian visa requirements.

The complete version of this information, slightly abridged here and reprinted with the permission of Providence, can be found on their web site.

Immigration documents

Study Permit
Any student coming to Canada to study in a program longer than six months must have a Study Permit.Application forms for a Study Permit can be obtained from Citizenship and Immigration Canada or at any Canadian Consulate in your country. Follow the instructions carefully and apply as soon as possible. It can take four to six months (or longer) to receive an answer.

Work Permit
Almost every international student studying at Providence College and Seminary will need a Work Permit. If you are coming to study only in the English Language Institute (ESL), you do not need one. If you are coming for a degree (bachelor's or master's), you will likely be required to do an internship or practicum and thus need a Work Permit. If you do need a Work Permit, information will be provided by the school in your full acceptance letter. Be sure to apply for it.

NOTE: Students from most countries will be required to pass an immigration medical examination performed by certain doctors designated by Citizenship and Immigration Canada when they apply for their study permits. For students coming from countries where this examination is not required for their Study Permit (including the United States, Germany, and other countries listed with a "NO" at Citizenship and Immigration Canada), an immigration medical examination will have to be passed before any internship, practicum, or field education service with children or in medical settings can begin. Students coming from these countries should wait to apply for any needed Work Permit until after this medical examination is passed. This can be done after they arrive in Canada.

Temporary Resident Visa
For some international students, a Temporary Resident Visa is also required. Be sure to ask the Canadian Consulate if you need one. A list of countries needing Temporary Resident Visas can be found at Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Transit Visas
Many countries require a Transit Visa if you are going to be traveling through them on your way to Canada. If you will be traveling through other countries on your way to Canada, be sure to ask your travel agent if you need Transit Visas for those countries.


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