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M1 Student Visa


The "M" visa is for nonacademic or vocational studies. M-1 visa holders for technical and vocational programs are not permitted to work during the course of their studies. The M-1 student visa applicants must have evidence that sufficient funds are immediately available to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of intended stay.

M1 Student Visa Requirements

You cannot enter as an M1 to just study "generally"; your program must have a goal and you must be involved in a "full course of study". A full course of study means study in a community or junior college, with at least 12 semester or quarter hours. It must be in a school where anyone attending for at least 12 semester or quarter hours is charged full tuition, or considered full-time. The only exception is where you need a smaller course-load to complete your course of study. It can also mean study at a post secondary vocational or business school which grants Associate or other degrees. Alternatively, if a school can demonstrate that its credits are, or have been, accepted unconditionally by at least 3 institutions of higher learning it can qualify. If that is not possible, study in a vocational or nonacademic curriculum, certified by a DSO to require at least 18 hours of weekly attendance or at least 22 clock hours a week (if most of your studies are in a shop or lab). If that is not possible, the last option is study in a vocational or nonacademic high school curriculum which is certified by a DSO to require class attendance for not less than the minimum required for normal progress towards graduation.

Jobs available on campus typically do not pay much, certainly not enough to finance a university education. Do not count on this kind of a job for anything more than a supplement to other funds. J-1 student status allows for similar employment, with similar restrictions, as long as permission is given by the exchange visitor program sponsor.

Applying for an M1 Visa

Different universities have different admission policies. Your university will inform you what they need from you in order to determine that you are academically eligible. Amongst other requirements, you will need to show the school that you have enough money to support yourself whilst studying without having to work and you may have to show health insurance in order to cover any medical expenses should you need any medical assistance. Always protect yourself by keeping a copy of everything that you fill out and send off.

Once the university has determined that your application is complete and you are academically eligible, they will issue an I-20 form to enable you to apply for your student visa.

Applicants for student visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. [This will normally be your home country, the country in which you live]. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.

When applying at the consulate for your student visa:
  1. You will have to pay a non-refundable application fee. This means that if your visa does not get approved, you will not get your money back.
  2. All applicants will need to complete and submit DS-160 , the online application for a non-immigrant visa.
  3. A DS-157 form for all males aged 16-45.
  4. A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application.
  5. Photos. You can upload a digital photo that is:
    • In color
    • Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (22 mm and 35 mm) or 50% and 69% of the image's total height from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
    • Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
    • Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
    • Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
    • With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
    • Taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis

Please note:

When applying for a student visa, you will have to prove to the consular officer that you have strong ties to a residence in a foreign country which [this most likely will be your home country] you have no intention of leaving from, and that you will leave the United States when you have completed your studies.

You should take as much evidence as possible to show that you have ties to your home county. Such evidence can include, but is not limited to:

  • Ownership of property
  • Proof of immediate family that is still based in your home country such as your parents, brothers, sisters
  • Evidence of a mortgage payment
  • Letter from a future employer stating that you have a job offer when returning home
  • Assets, a car or anything else that can show that your intention is to return to your home country

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