M-1 Student Visa

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Interested in gaining vocational or technical training at a community or junior college program in the U.S.? The Alcorn Immigration Law team can help. Foreign nationals who participate in an approved technical, vocational or other nonacademic program are eligible for an M-1 visa.

Students on M-1 visas cannot work during the course of their studies. However, they may be eligible for a work permit after completing the educational program. Therefore, M-1 applicants must provide evidence that they have the financial resources to pay for all living and studying expenses during their stay in the U.S.

M-1 students are eligible to participate in paid practical training with an employer only after their course of study is completed. However, the practical training must relate to the area of study. For every four months of program enrollment, M-1 students are eligible for one month of practical training. Students must apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to participate in practical training.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for an M-1 visa, applicants must enroll in either:

  • A U.S. community or junior college for at least 12 semester or quarter hours or the equivalent of a full-time student. An M-1 candidate may receive an exemption if she/he needs to take a smaller course load to complete the course of study or if the college the candidate attends shows at least three institutions of higher learning accepts its credits unconditionally.
  • A course of study at a post secondary vocational or business school that grants associate or other degrees.
  • A certified vocational or non-academic program that requires at least 18 hours of weekly attendance or at least 22 hours a week if most of the studies involve shop or lab work.
  • Study through a certified vocational or nonacademic high school program and requires class attendance for at least the minimum required for graduation.

All applicants must provide evidence that they have the funds immediately available to pay for all living expenses during their stay in the U.S. Some universities, colleges, and schools require prospective students to have health insurance to cover any medical expenses.

Application Process

To apply for an M-1 visa, a candidate must:

  • Select one school to attend and fill out that school’s Form I-20. The information contained in this form is entered into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) database.
  • Before applying for an M-1 visa, pay the SEVIS fee by going to fmjfee.com to access SEVIS Form I-901. For more information about the payment process, watch the I-901 SEVIS Fee Payment Tutorial.
  • Save the receipt for the Form I-901 fee payment. Bring it to the visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • File an online application Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) with the U.S. Department of State. Online Form DS-160 requires an uploaded photo of the student. If the photo upload fails, the student will be required to bring a printed photo meeting the requirements listed here.
  • Print out the Form DS-160 confirmation page and bring it to the visa interview.
  • Make an appointment for a visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in her or his home country.
  • Pay any applicable fees prior to visa interview and bring the receipt to the interview along with passport and all other supporting documents.

Services for Students

At Alcorn Immigration Law, we help prospective international students obtain visas from within the U.S. or abroad. If you have questions about becoming a student, do not hesitate to contact us.