M-1 Student Visa

Student Visas are non-immigrant visas which enable you to study as a student in the United States.

The M-1 visa is for foreign nationals who seek to pursue a vocational, non-academic program (other than a language training program) in an established institution in the United States approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Examples of vocational study are cooking classes, training programs for health care technicians, machinists, dental hygienists, and other, similar pursuits.

Dependents of the foreign national on M-1 visa– spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join the foreign national in the U.S., under M-2 status. M2 dependents are not allowed to work or study for degrees. They can enroll in recreational courses, and children can only complete their elementary and middle school.

The M-1 visas are administered by Department of Homeland Security’s SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) Program through its Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The admit (I-20) and visa under M-1 category are granted for the duration of vocational studies, or for a shorter time. The M1 visa and the Form I-20 can be extended for a maximum of 3 years.

Training and Employment while on M-1 Visa

M-1 students cannot work while they study. However, they may engage in practical training which is related to their vocation after they have completed their studies.
Students are entitled to 1 month’s practical training for every 4 months of study – up to a maximum of 6 months – and must apply for the Designated School Officer’s permission, and for a visa extension to cover the training period.

Requirements to be eligible for M-1 visa:

  • Enrollment must be in a vocational non-academic program that results a diploma, degree or certificate. Program cannot be a language training program.
  • Enrollment must be as a full-time student at the institution.
  • The school must be approved by SEVIS to accept international students.
  • Prospective applicant must have the credentials to qualify for the intended full course of study and must establish, through documentation, the financial ability to self-support during the proposed course of study.
  • Prospective student must show proficiency in English language via recognized and approved testing examinations (viz., TOEFL, IELTS) or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency.
  • Lastly, the prospective student must exhibit the intent to return to home country, i.e., the “non-immigrant intent”. An M-1 visa is a temporary student visa, and the applicants must be having strong ties to their home countries.

Procedure for Applying for an M-1 visa:

  • Apply to an SEVP approved institution and get admission by following specific institution’s procedures.
    Once selected, the Institution will issue a Form I-20 and register you in SEVIS
  • Complete Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/, upload photos while completing the online Form I-160, and print the confirmation page for interview
  • Pay the non-refundable visa application fee
  • Make an appointment for an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate

Documents required for applying for an M-1 visa:

  1. Valid Passport: Applicant’s passport must be valid for at least six months at the time of applying for M-1 visa.
  2. Form DS-160 Confirmation Page.
  3. Application fee (SEVIS fee) payment receipt.
  4. Photographs and Biometrics – Applicant will be required upload photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Alternatively, few U.S. Embassies/ Consulates have arrangements to setup a separate appointment for biometrics and photographs requirement. Applicants are required to follow the procedures of respective consulate they intend to apply at pertaining to completion of photographs and biometric requirement.
  5. Certified Form I-20 issued by the DSO of institution to which the applicant got admitted.
  6. Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the U.S., which include the tuition fees and living expenses for the duration of the academic program that applicant proposes to pursue.
  7. Educational Documents – documents in support of qualifying education or training which enabled to apply for the vocational program in the U.S.
  8. Documentary evidence showing proficiency in English Language.
  9. Documentary evidence showing that applicant plans to remain in the U.S. only for the purpose of pursuing the vocational program and plans to return to home country upon completion of program.
    • Documentation should ideally show applicant’s strong ties to his/ her home country.