The M-1 visa is a type of student visa for vocational and technical schools. The M-1 visa offers students the opportunity to train in a positive U.S. environment while strengthening their technical and non-academic skills (this visa does not apply to language training). The M-1 visa is offered to students who wish to pursue full-time study at a USCIS-approved vocational or non-academic school in the U.S. Under M-1 visa status a candidate may study in the U.S. and engage in vocational training provided by various approved institutions including Trades Schools and Flight Schools. To apply for M-1 visa to enter the United States, a student must present a signed Form I-20 at a United States embassy or consulate in the owned home country. Form I-20 is presented by a designated school official, and afterward, the student has to fulfill school’s admissions requirements and presents proof regarding financial capabilities.

M-1 student is allowed to enter the United States for a fixed time period, but the length of stay totally depends on their training program plus any Optional Practical Training, plus a thirty-day grace period at the end of their training. Student holding M-1 status may not work on or off campus while studying and also not change their status to F-1. Student stay may not exceed for one year except that he/she is allowed an extension for medical reasons. If a student found to infringe the status, i.e., not performed a full course of study then he/she may be terminated for the grace period.

Eligibility Criteria

The M-1 visa is advised for those candidates who wish to move to the U.S. in order to participate in a course of vocational training. To qualify for M-1 status, a candidate must meet the following requirements mentioned below:

  • Candidate must have adequate knowledge of English language to fulfill the course, or special language tuition arrangements in place at the institution to receive language tuition.
  • Candidate must be admitted to a full-time course by an institution, which is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Candidate must have sufficient funds to pay the fee for the entire course and be able to access funds to bear all the expenses during the stay.
  • Candidates must assure that he/she intends to return back to their home country upon completion of their course and expiry of their U.S. study visas.

Note:  M-1 visa is generally granted for the time that will be taken to complete the course plus an additional 30 days of grace period, or one year, depending on whichever is less.

Application Procedure

There are different universities having different admission policies. After determining your academic eligibility or completion of the application by the university, then you will be issued an I-20 form to enable you to apply for your student (M-1) visa. Application procedure of applying at the consulate for your student (M-1) visa:

  • Firstly, you have to pay a non-refundable application fee. It means that if your visa does not get approved, you will not get your money back.
  • An application Form DS-156 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application) has to be completed and signed. This form is free at all U.S. consular offices.
  • Form DS-157 for all males aged at 16-45.
  • A valid passport with a validity date of at least six months needed to enter the U.S. and beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exceptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person who needs a visa must complete an application for that.
  • One 2 x 2 photograph is needed for each applicant.
  • For the ‘F’ status an applicant, a Form I-20A-B is to be filled.  For the ‘M’ status applicant, a Form I-20M-N is to be filled.

Documentation

There are some necessary documents which required for providing you an M-1 visa:

  • A current valid passport as well as old passport if any, is needed.
  • One 2 x 2 photograph is needed.
  • Form DS-160 online submitted confirmation page with CEAC (Consular Electronic Application Center) barcode is needed.
  • Fees paid in advance before making an appointment, that application fee payment receipt is needed.
  • Original interview appointment letter and one copy are needed.
  • SEVIS (Student Exchange and Visitor Information System) generated Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) both bar-coded pages and one copy of Form I-20 are needed, which is obtained from a U.S. college, school, or university and signed by you and a school official.
  • Your spouse or dependent (everyone who will accompany you and apply for the U.S. visa) must be registered in SEVIS (Student Exchange and Visitor Information System). Your school is liable to enter your information for the Form I-20 into SEVIS.

Note: Form I-20 does not be sealed into an envelope; however you have to carry Form I-20 along with you during travel as it will be checked by the immigration officer at the port of entry in order to enter into the U.S.

Duration of Stay

The M-1 visa applicant may remain in the United States for the period of time to complete the course of study as indicated on the I-20M plus 30 days, or for one year, whichever is less.

If you want to stay longer in the United States, then you have to apply for an adjustment of status or extension of stay from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services having jurisdiction over your residential place in the United States.

Spouse and Children

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may join you in the U.S. if they have nonimmigrant M-2 status. Although M-1 and M-2 visa holders are not allowed to work, M-1 holders may apply for an extension of up to six months for practical training. If you lose your status, your spouse and children will also lose their status. M visa holders (M-1) and dependents (M-2) are allowed to remain in the country for the same duration as the principal (M-1) applicant and to pursue studies if they wish.