McGeorge School of Law

Information for Students from Canada

Welcome to McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. McGeorge School of Law offers a diverse and engaged academic community for legal and policy studies. Students from all over the United States and all over the world — including our Canadian neighbors — come together in the law school classroom at McGeorge to engage in conversation informed by unique individual and collective cultural, geographical and national experiences. The rich nature of our community fosters a distinct academic and social experience on our campus for students, faculty and staff all the same.

We encourage you to explore our website and learn more about our academic programs, experiential learning opportunities, and student life at McGeorge. The faculty and staff here at the law school are here to serve as a source of information and guidance for you. If you are considering legal and/or policy studies in the United States it is important to understand the Visa process. When considering entering the United States on a student Visa, you will need to follow many steps. Understanding, timing and detail are all important to this process. In order to assist you through this process, below is a guide for Canadian students who intend to study in the United States.

For questions regarding admissions contact the JD Admissions Office at or 916.739.7105. Any questions regarding Visa processing contact the Graduate & International Programs Office at or 916.739.7019.

  1. To Attend Law Schools
    1. Visa
      1. Canadian citizens do not require a Visa to enter the United States as a student.
      2. Student Visa —
        1. In general, to enter the United States in F-1 student status international students must present a valid Form I-20 and the following is required to obtain the I-20:
          1. You must be enrolled in an "academic" educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program.
          2. The F-1 student visa is valid for as long as it takes to finish the student's course of study.
          3. Criteria for the F-1 Visa —
            1. Your school must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, Immigration & Customs Enforcement.
            2. You must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution.
            3. You must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency.
            4. You must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study.
            5. You must maintain a residence abroad which you have no intention of giving up.
            6. Once the I-20 is issued to the student, the student must pay the required SEVIS fee.
        2. The University of the Pacific is approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program to issue the Form I-20 using the Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is an online database that connects the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with U.S. colleges and universities by providing information on international students and scholars.
        3. The Graduate and International Programs office at McGeorge School of Law, University of The Pacific will issue the I-20 only if the all the criteria for the F-1 Visa noted above are met.
        4. Once the I-20 is issued, the student may enter the United States in student status up to 30 days prior to the program start date. At the port of entry the student must present:
          1. Valid Form I-20
          2. SEVIS fee receipt
          3. Passport valid for travel to the United States and valid for at least 6 months after date of entry.
          4. Proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses.
          5. Any other documents required by the local consular office.
        5. Other Visa Options
          1. J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa.
        6. Working While in School
          1. SEVIS regulations generally allow international students to work up to 20 hours per week on-campus. However, on-campus jobs for international students at McGeorge are limited and cannot be guaranteed. International students are not eligible for U.S. federally funded study positions. The kind of employment that international students are allowed to engage in depends on what year of study they are in. The different kinds of employment are broken down below by year of study.
          2. The first academic year
            1. Unrelated off campus employment is generally not permitted.
            2. On campus employment may be accepted subject to certain conditions and restrictions:
              1. Restricted to 20 hours/week when school is in session
              2. Can apply up to 30 days before the start of classes
              3. DSO, or designated school official, needs to approve. Once approved, get a letter of approval from employer, and apply for SSN.
          3. After the first academic year
            1. Circular Practical Training (CPT)
              1. An alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education or other type of required practicum that a sponsoring employer offers through cooperative agreements with your college or university
              2. Only available for F-1 students when it is part of an established curriculum within a school. CPT must be integral to your program of study
              3. Can be full time, unlike OPT
            2. Optical Practical Training (OPT) — Most students on F visas are eligible. However the student must seek approval by USCIS
              1. Allows students to be employed in the U.S. in a field directly related to his/her area of study
              2. Part time only — up to 20 hours per/week when school is in session, but can be full time during breaks
              3. OPT is arranged directly between USCIS (United States Citizenship & Immigration Services) and the School
              4. OPT employment allows the student to work for a year in the United States for a year after the completion of their law program in a law-related position
          4. The I-9 Form
            1. If getting paid, must fill out the Employment Eligibility Verification I-9 Form,
          5. Note: all international students who receive financial compensation must apply for a social security number.
        7. How to Obtain
          1. Apply & be accepted by a U.S. SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) accredited school
            1. Must submit a Declaration of Finances to verify adequate funds to attend law school **School cannot issue an I-20 without this**
          2. Once Accepted — Each school will issue you an I-20
            1. This a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status – For Academic and Language Studies
          3. Use the I-20 from the school you wish to attend to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee
          4. Next, apply for Nonimmigrant Visa
            1. Go to Embassy or Consulate's Website for Specific Instruction
              1. Must apply 120 days before the date listed on Form I-20
          5. Bring I-20 Form with you when you enter the United States
    2. Exams
      1. Must take the LSAT
      2. Do not have to take the TOEFL
    3. Submitting Transcripts —
      1. Transcripts from Canadian universities must be submitted through CAS
    4. Funding
      1. Financing Your Legal Education
        1. In order to apply for the F-1, students must first demonstrate their ability to pay for U.S. schooling
        2. International students are ineligible for federal loans
        3. Most law schools require you to have a cosigner for any private loans
      2. Loans
        1. Students can apply for Canadian Student Loans
          1. Should apply through the province in which they have established residency
  1. Practicing in Canada
    1. Must apply to the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA)
      1. NCA will advise each applicant as to what they must do to obtain a certificate of qualification.
        1. Exact requirements depend on the candidate's education and professional qualifications, and include a certain number of credits that candidates must complete.
        2. Requirements can be completed by
          1. Writing Challenge Exams
          2. If Enrollment Permits — Enrolling & Taking Courses in a Canadian Law School
        3. Applying
          1. Applicants must send NCA
            1. Transcripts of postsecondary education
            2. Proof of being called to Bar in another jurisdiction (if applicable)
            3. Completed NCA application
            4. Original transcripts of pre-law grades
            5. Resume
            6. $525 Canadian fee made to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada
        4. Once Requirements are Completed
          1. Applicants receive Certificate of Qualification
            1. This certificate testifies that the candidate had training/education equal to graduates from an approved Canadian Law School
          2. Upon obtaining a Certificate of Qualification, a foreign-trained lawyer must complete the bar admission requirements for the particular province in which they plan to practice on the same basis as a graduate from an approved Canadian law school.