M-1 Visa

The M-1 Visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa for individuals wishing to pursue nonacademic or vocational studies. This category excludes language training. In order to be considered for the M-1 visa, you must intend to stay for a temporary period of time and have proof of compelling ties (social, family, economic, professional or other) to a residence outside the United States to which you will return after the visit.

Do I Qualify?

You must, first of all, make sure an American institution admits you for a course of study, either nonacademic or vocational. Once you have all of your documents ready, prepare to bring the following documents with you when you go for your interview at a US Consulate office.

· Documents that demonstrate you have satisfy academic requirements that apply to all students entering the program
· Evidence of English language proficiency

The language requirement can be waived if a) you are coming to participate exclusively in an English language training program, b) you are sufficiently proficient in English to pursue the intended course of study, c) where applicable, the school must have made special arrangements for English language courses, and d) the school offers the course in your native language.

· Proof of sufficient funds to cover cost of living and tuition
(or, evidence showing you are a winner of a scholarship, fellowship, a grant, or an award that covers tuition fees and living expenses)

Make sure you must have evidence that proves sufficient funds will immediately be available to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of your intended stay.

· A Form I-20 A/B issued by the school you are planning to attend

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must have approved the school.

What are the required documents?

· Each applicant for a student visa must pay a non-refundable US $45 application fee.
· An Application Form DS-156 completed and signed.
· A valid passport for travel to the US and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States.
· One photograph 1 and 1⁄2 inches square (37 x 37 mm) for each application showing full face, without a head covering, against a light background.
· Form I-20M-N from the school you plan on attending.
· Evidence of sufficient funds.

Can I Work?

M-1 students cannot generally accept on or off campus employment. They are, however, allowed to participate in practical training following the completion of their course of study (see Practical Training Below).

Can I Bring My Family?

You are allowed to bring your spouse (wife or husband) and unmarried children under the age of 21.

Can my Spouse or Children Study?

The spouse or children of an M-1 visa holder are qualified to apply for an F-1 visa (see requirements for F-1 Visa). Like the M-1 student, the holder of an M-2 visa may not accept any form of employment. You must bring your family with you to the U.S. embassy or consulate when you apply for your student (M-1) visa. You must prepare to prove their relationship to you.

If your spouse or children choose to join you at a later date, they may do so. For their interview at the US consulate, they should bring with them to the U.S. embassy

· A copy of your USCIS Form I-20
· A Photo ID
· Proof of their relationship to you.

Note: The M-2 status of your family depends on your status as the M-1 vocational student. If you change your status, your family must also apply to change their status. Similarly, if you lose your status, your family will also lose theirs.

Can I Change My School?

M-1 students are not authorized to change schools after six months, unless there are circumstances beyond their control. To apply for change of school within six months after your arrival you should fill out Form I-159. You should submit, together with Form I-159, your I-20s from both the school you are currently attending and the new school that has accepted you.

How Long Can I Stay?

You can stay in the United States for up to year or for as long as you are enrolled as a full-time student in a vocational program. You have an additional thirty days to prepare to leave the United States after the completion of your study. The thirty days include the thirty days beyond the departure date on your USCIS Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) and USCIS Form I-20 ID.

However, you may apply to stay in the country after the completion of your studies to participate in a practical training program (See Curricular Practical Training). You will be allowed to have one month of practical training for every four months of study you completed if you application for practical training is approved. The total duration cannot be more than six months of practical training time. Your designated school official (DSO will assist you in the application process.

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a program that allows you to benefit from work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other form of required internship or practical training. The program should be offered by sponsoring employer that has signed an agreement with the school you are attending.

How Can I Qualify for CPT?

Students enrolled in studies that require immediate participation in Curricular Practical Training qualify for Curricular Practical Training. All other students who have received one year or more of full time curricular practical training do NOT qualify for post-completion academic training. A student can ONLY start CPT only after receiving Form I-20 with the DSO endorsement.
The CPT application can be processed either under Non-SEVIS processing method as well as through SEVIS.

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

OPT provides foreign students with an opportunity to enrich their skills by gaining practical experience. The student can take advantage of this option after a successful completion of academic program. The job training must relate to the field of study of the student and the authorization to work is ONLY for 12 months only. The OPT can be obtained during school or after graduation.

Note: You must complete your OPT within 14 months of the completion of you study program.

How Can I Travel Outside of the United States?

You may leave the United States and be readmitted after short temporary absences. Before making your travel plans, remember that you should have all of your documents that prove you are an M-1 full-time student and in good standing. Make sure to have the designated school official of your school sign your USCIS Form I-20 each time you wish to temporarily travel outside the United States. When you return to the United States, prepare to show the following documents to immigration and customs officers at the port of entry (the airport of your arrival from a foreign country or any other entry point):

· A valid passport
· A valid M-1 entry visa stamp
· A current USCIS Form I-20 ID signed by your designated school official
· A new USCIS Form I-20 M-N/ID (if there have been any significant changes in your course of study or place of study).
· Proof of your financial support.