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Moving to USA during these times - need advice

Moving to USA during these times - need advice

Old May 5, 20, 3:48 am
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Moving to USA during these times - need advice

HI all,

I'll be moving to the States for business school (supposedly originally in June), and wanted to get advice on the best thing to do given all the travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines right now.

Background:
I'll be moving to the USA for my MBA on an I-20 Visa and have my rent all set for mid June. Unfortunately my program shifted its start date and pushed my I-20 date forward by one month due to the current situation. I tried to change my rent, but they only gave me two extra weeks, which means any delay in me arriving, I would have to be paying rent upfront. The good news is that I currently have a Canada passport and can enter the US on a tourist visa first and then fly out to Canada and re-enter closer to the program start date on my I-20 visa.

Given the situation, I have come to two options:

Option 1:
Head to the States in Mid June as planned with my Canadian passport on a tourist visa (given the situation, what would I tell US immigration of my purpose of visit?). Fly out to Canada in August, and then re-enter on my official I-20 then. This option was advised by my school, however, this was before the situation got a lot worse.

Option 2:
Head to the States later, closer to my I-20 date and hopefully when the situation stabilizes a bit. Not a huge fan of this option as I'll be wasting a lot of $$ on rent that I would have to pay.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks a lot!
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Old May 5, 20, 3:49 am
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Originally Posted by Oneworldflyer64 View Post
HI all,

I'll be moving to the States for business school (supposedly originally in June), and wanted to get advice on the best thing to do given all the travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines right now.

Background:
I'll be moving to the USA for my MBA on an I-20 Visa and have my rent all set for mid June. Unfortunately my program shifted its start date and pushed my I-20 date forward by one month due to the current situation. I tried to change my rent, but they only gave me two extra weeks, which means any delay in me arriving, I would have to be paying rent upfront. The good news is that I currently have a Canada passport and can enter the US on a tourist visa first and then fly out to Canada and re-enter closer to the program start date on my I-20 visa.

Given the situation, I have come to two options:

Option 1:
Head to the States in Mid June as planned with my Canadian passport on a tourist visa (given the situation, what would I tell US immigration of my purpose of visit?). Fly out to Canada in August, and then re-enter on my official I-20 then. This option was advised by my school, however, this was before the situation got a lot worse.

Option 2:
Head to the States later, closer to my I-20 date and hopefully when the situation stabilizes a bit. Not a huge fan of this option as I'll be wasting a lot of $$ on rent that I would have to pay.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks a lot!
Oh - forgot to mention, I am currently in Hong Kong, and would be flying HKG -> LAX or JFK -> RDU
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Old May 5, 20, 3:50 am
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Are Canadians being permitted into the US? I thought not.
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Old May 5, 20, 3:53 am
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Are Canadians being permitted into the US? I thought not.
I'm not 100% sure, but I'm reading on Cathay's website that you're only now allowed in if you have been in the EU / Mainland China / several other high risk countries. I don't think it mentioned anything about passport nationality, but just countries you have visited and hong kong seems to be clear.

I could be wrong of course with so much changing everyday.
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Old May 5, 20, 3:57 am
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Sorry, I was not being clear. The US/Canada border is closed to all but essential travel and commerce. Starting a university course isn't essential. Things may change by then, but I wouldn't be making plans around it.

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/04/21/...ad-coronavirus
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Old May 5, 20, 6:20 am
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Sorry, I was not being clear. The US/Canada border is closed to all but essential travel and commerce. Starting a university course isn't essential. Things may change by then, but I wouldn't be making plans around it.

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/04/21/...ad-coronavirus

OP wants to fly HKG-LAX, so won't be crossing the Canada - USA border.
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Old May 5, 20, 7:03 am
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Depending on where you are going in the US it's too early to decide. Wait until late May as things are likely to be clearer. If there is a spike in cases or continued measures in place at that time I'd pick option 2 until things go back to "a new" normal.
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Old May 5, 20, 8:27 am
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Originally Posted by narvik View Post
OP wants to fly HKG-LAX, so won't be crossing the Canada - USA border.
So a non-citizen living in HK can enter without hinderance? Asking because I don't know.
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Old May 5, 20, 8:43 am
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OP - The starting point for you is to discuss all of this with the student affairs office (or its equivalent) for your MBA program. This is all being carefully thought through by academic institutions which admit non-US students and rather than reinventing the wheel, why not start with the benefit of your own program's thinking?

The bottom line is that there are no closed borders. That is simply media hype. Rather, there are restrictions on who may enter the US and under what circumstances. This is also a fluid situation. While the trend is towards lessening restrictions, that may or may not last. While carriers will likely trend towards more capacity, that may not be the case.
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Old May 5, 20, 8:50 am
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What's your situation in Hong Kong? You mention being concerned about paying rent for an unused apartment in the USA, but can your break your lease on short notice in Hong Kong? Do you have a job that you would be leaving earlier rather than later?

I'd feel more comfortable giving advice if I knew what MBA program you'll be doing. I've never heard of a June start date (unless maybe it's some special accelerated or global program with a lot of the courses being done elsewhere), although this might somehow be the result of COVID-19. A regular full-time (and daytime) MBA program starts in the fall and consists of two academic years of classwork, with the degree being earned in the spring roughly 20-21 months later. Some places might have special "skills" courses offered in a miniterm in August for entering students, but starting in June would be very unusual IME, with few regular faculty being available then, and a summer term usually wouldn't be equivalent in length to a fall session, so I wonder what the plans are for the entire program. I've also never heard of a major university telling students (who already have visas in place, etc.) to come several months later, nor do I understand the mechanism that the university could adjust he visa date by a month, although my understanding is that the norm for student visas is that one cannot enter the USA more than a month before the start of classes for the academic term, so a one month adjustment doesn't sound right either. I'm wondering a bit whether you can really count on your program having classes start in August versus whether it will be online classes if it does start at all them. I guess I'm questioning whether you can count on what your university is telling you as being definitive in terms of a start date for an on campus program.

Every university that I know in the USA is doing summer courses exclusively online and is currently making contingency plans for both in person and online classes this fall, although some places have announced that they will have in person classes again starting in the fall.

BTW, your post is confusing in terms of moving things forward versus back. I'm wondering whether there could be some confusion in communications with your landlord on this, as I've never heard of a landlord agreeing to forego two weeks' rent if you've signed a binding least unless the landlord is the university. The start of your program has apparently been pushed BACK (NOT FORWARD) from June to August.

Some time ago I knew an beginning graduate student who entered the USA on the Canada exception and dealt with the student visa later. My impression was that this did not require making a trip to Canada, but I do know for sure that the CBP officers at the international airport weren't aware of the special rules for Canada and were only willing to consider the case (with a supervisor spending hours doing research before the person was admitted) because printouts (hard copies) of the rules had been carried (in a carryon piece, not in a checked bag) to show to officials. The person came very close to being denied entry.

If it's not too costly, I can see advantages to arriving relatively early for school in case borders are shut in the meantime or more flights are cancelled. It could also be nice to get settled before classes start and have some time to (hopefully) enjoy exploring the area around your new home.

I may be wrong, but longterm, I don't see prohibitions on university students traveling to campus because this is considered inessential. In a sense, you're traveling to a new home and many jurisdictions permit this now. However, if there's a COVID-19 flareup, we could have a very draconian lockdown imposed instantly.
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Old May 5, 20, 9:06 am
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As to the start date, maybe it's an executive MBA? That's what it sounds like.
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Old May 5, 20, 9:07 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
What's your situation in Hong Kong? You mention being concerned about paying rent for an unused apartment in the USA, but can your break your lease on short notice in Hong Kong? Do you have a job that you would be leaving earlier rather than later?

I'd feel more comfortable giving advice if I knew what MBA program you'll be doing. I've never heard of a June start date (unless maybe it's some special accelerated or global program with a lot of the courses being done elsewhere), although this might somehow be the result of COVID-19. A regular full-time (and daytime) MBA program starts in the fall and consists of two academic years of classwork, with the degree being earned in the spring roughly 20-21 months later. Some places might have special "skills" courses offered in a miniterm in August for entering students, but starting in June would be very unusual IME, with few regular faculty being available then, and a summer term usually wouldn't be equivalent in length to a fall session, so I wonder what the plans are for the entire program. I've also never heard of a major university telling students (who already have visas in place, etc.) to come several months later, nor do I understand the mechanism that the university could adjust he visa date by a month, although my understanding is that the norm for student visas is that one cannot enter the USA more than a month before the start of classes for the academic term, so a one month adjustment doesn't sound right either. I'm wondering a bit whether you can really count on your program having classes start in August versus whether it will be online classes if it does start at all them. I guess I'm questioning whether you can count on what your university is telling you as being definitive in terms of a start date for an on campus program.

Every university that I know in the USA is doing summer courses exclusively online and is currently making contingency plans for both in person and online classes this fall, although some places have announced that they will have in person classes again starting in the fall.

BTW, your post is confusing in terms of moving things forward versus back. I'm wondering whether there could be some confusion in communications with your landlord on this, as I've never heard of a landlord agreeing to forego two weeks' rent if you've signed a binding least unless the landlord is the university. The start of your program has apparently been pushed BACK (NOT FORWARD) from June to August.

Some time ago I knew an beginning graduate student who entered the USA on the Canada exception and dealt with the student visa later. My impression was that this did not require making a trip to Canada, but I do know for sure that the CBP officers at the international airport weren't aware of the special rules for Canada and were only willing to consider the case (with a supervisor spending hours doing research before the person was admitted) because printouts (hard copies) of the rules had been carried (in a carryon piece, not in a checked bag) to show to officials. The person came very close to being denied entry.

If it's not too costly, I can see advantages to arriving relatively early for school in case borders are shut in the meantime or more flights are cancelled. It could also be nice to get settled before classes start and have some time to (hopefully) enjoy exploring the area around your new home.

I may be wrong, but longterm, I don't see prohibitions on university students traveling to campus because this is considered inessential. In a sense, you're traveling to a new home and
many jurisdictions permit this now. However, if there's a COVID-19 flareup, we could have a very draconian lockdown imposed instantly.
Thanks for the detailed reply, appreciate it. I guess there was some confusion in my earlier post and I wanted to clarify a few things. My programs' original start date was end of July but was pushed to end of August now (It's one of the few top programs to start earlier than the other MBAs but that has been pushed now). My plan was to arrive one month early in June and just have some time to set up, which is why i signed the lease to start in June. You are right in saying that I can only enter with an I-20 one month before the start date of the program, however, since the program got pushed to end of August, the I-20 dates have changed now too, and I have already received a new visa with a new entry date, hence if I enter in June as planned, I will need to re-enter the country again in August with my I-20.

My Hong Kong affairs are quite flexible, my boss is happy with how long I stay, and I can stay with family here, so rent is flexible too. My concern is that I'll have to be paying rent in the States regardless if I'm physically there or not (I can just renege on the contract, but this could end up very messy come school term and I prefer not to do this as well ethically).

I agree with you that I want to enter the USA as soon as possible to prevent wasting rent, as well as the possibility of borders closing in the future. I also understand that there is no way to predict what's going to happen, I just figured I wanted to get some advice on here in addition to what the school is mentioning, as I have always valued travel related advice here over most other platforms.
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Old May 5, 20, 9:11 am
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So you are effectively paying for one additional month of rent...Whilst I doubt there's any insurance that could cover this, it seems reasonable in the grand scheme of things. Your plan to leave to Canada and come back won't work in the reverse direction (I believe) until the border has opened back up, allowing you into the US from Canada (unless there is an exception for students starting their course).
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Old May 5, 20, 9:15 am
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
So you are effectively paying for one additional month of rent...Whilst I doubt there's any insurance that could cover this, it seems reasonable in the grand scheme of things. Your plan to leave to Canada and come back won't work in the reverse direction (I believe) until the border has opened back up, allowing you into the US from Canada (unless there is an exception for students starting their course).
Yes spot on, paying additional 1-2 months rent I guess. I'm talking to a few other Canadians who are in a similar situation and had a similar plan to do this, but my worry is the coming back into US from Canada part as you mentioned.
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Old May 5, 20, 9:17 am
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What does the lease terms say? Perhaps you can cite "Force Majeure" and get rid of the rent payments.
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