Travelling to the U.S

If you are planning on travelling to the United States for a visit or for a few hours in transit you may need a Visa or an ESTA.  


Step 1: Find out if you need a visa to enter the U.S.

If you are a student from a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) country, you need to obtain a travel authorization instead of a visa via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to entering the U.S.

Step 2: Make an appointment if you need to apply for U.S. B1/B2 Non-Immigrant visa

If you want to apply for a U.S. visa while in Canada, will need to apply in person at the U.S. Consulate in Halifax. To do so, follow the steps below:

  • Fill out the DS-160 form and print your confirmation barcode page before exiting the program
  • Pay the required MRV fee ($160 USD for visitor/business visa) online. This fee is due at the time of scheduling your appointment and is non-refundable and is non-transferable
  • Make an appointment online

Before scheduling your appointment, have the following documents ready:

  • DS-160 confirmation number (print the confirmation page)
  • your passport valid for 6 months beyond your intended stay in the U.S.
  • credit card: Visa, MasterCard or American Express

Step 3: Prepare the required documents

  • Your appointment letter
  • Passport valid for 6 months beyond your U.S. stay
  • Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application, DS-160 confirmation sheet (barcode) number
  • Original Transcript
  • Confirmation of Enrollment letter from
    • Registrar’s Office (for Undergraduate students)
    • Faculty of Graduate Studies (for Graduate students)
  • Confirmation of tuition payment (from Student Accounts office)
  • Monthly statement from your bank or scholarship letter(s) must be presented upon request
  • Status in Canada (Student and/or Work permit(s)/Permanent Resident Card)
  • If you did not upload your photo to the application, bring a full frontal view 2"x2" colour passport photo with a plain white background taken within the last 6 months
  • If your visa is approved you may be required to pay an additional fee for visa issuance, known as a reciprocity fee. This fee may be paid in cash or by credit card at the U.S. Consulate. You may confirm this prior to your interview at

Additional information

  1. Please come to your appointment on time and fully prepared. There is no chance to complete documents, take photos, pay visa fees, etc at the consulate. Applicants who come unprepared will be turned away and must reschedule their appointments.

  2. All applicants must undergo strict security screening prior to entry. LEAVE THE FOLLOWING AT HOME AND DO NOT BRING:
    • Backpacks, bags, luggage, or large purses (purses 12 x 10 x 6 in. and smaller will be permitted)
    • Food and beverages
    • Tools, including any sharp or bladed objects
    • Any oils, aerosols or pump sprays, liquids, lotions, and powders
    • Any type of fire starter (cigarette lighters)
    • Electronic or recording equipment of any kind, including, but not limited to cameras, laptop computers, mobile smart phones, MP3, CD, or cassette players, pagers, keyless remotes
    • Helmets of any type
    • Strollers will be determined on a case by case basis
  3. U.S. visas are not issued the same day as your interview and can take up to 10 business days to be completed. They cannot be picked up from the Consulate and will be returned via Loomis Courier.

  4. In the U.S. there is a presumption in the constitution "that every non-immigrant visa applicant is an intending immigrant." Therefore, you must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:
    • The purpose of your trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or simply transit
    • Your plan to remain for a specific and limited period of time
    • You have a residence outside the U.S., as well as other strong ties, which will ensure your return abroad at the end of the visit
  5. Proof of Departure from the United States: When leaving the United States, please return your Arrival/Departure Record (I-94 white or I-94W green) to immigration or airline officials. If you leave the United States with your Arrival/Departure Record (I-94 white or I-94W green) in your passport, it is possible that your departure will not be recorded properly.

Inquiries can be sent to:


Step 1: Find out if you are eligible to apply for an ESTA

Citizens or nationals of participating countries who plan to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days are part of the Visa Waiver Program

They do not need to apply for a B1/B2 non-immigrant visa but they must apply for an ESTA. You can find the full list of participating countries on the United States government website.

Go to the website and complete the application

You should carefully read the instructions on the official ESTA website and submit the application online.

You will need the following dosuments to complete the application:

  • Valid passport from a Visa Waiver Program country
  • Valid credit card (MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover (JCB, Diners Club)) or PayPal to pay the US $14 per application.
  • Your contact information
  • Your most recent employment information, if applicable


Gather your documents

To travel solely to and from the U.S, you must be able to provide:

  • a valid passport with a valid US VISA or ESTA
  • Study Permit, Work Permit, or Visitor Record
  • also recommended is a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)*
  • A Dalhousie confirmation of enrolment letter showing you are registered for future semesters

* An agreement between the U.S. and Canada that allows you to return to Canada without needing a TRVPrint and take a copy of this section of TRV exemption policy (pdf 54KB) with you if you are visiting the United States and returning to Canada. 

However, it is strongly recommended, that you apply for a TRV especially if you are travelling by air as some airlines may not allow you to board the flight if you do not have a valid TRV.

Make sure you have adequate health insurance coverage

The International Student Health Plan or MSI offers very limited coverage outside of Canada. It is very important that you purchase supplemental health insurance when planning to visit the United States (or any country outside of Canada).

Always remember...

A Visitor Visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States at the port of entry.  For more up-to-date information, visit the Consulate General of the United States in Halifax website.

The webpage information was last updated on October, 2017.


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