Maintaining Valid M-1 Status

After an alien is admitted into the United States in M-1 status, it is important for him/her to maintain status, so that they do not jeopardize their studies and can legally remain in the United States while they work towards completing their course of study. U.S. Immigration Law outlines the various criteria that must be met in order for an alien to maintain his/her M-1/M-2 status, which will be outlined below. 

A full-course of study in a vocational/business or other non-academic curriculum

In order to maintain status, an M-1 student must be enrolled in a full-course of study. Specifically for M-1 students, a full-course of study is defined as:

  • Study in a community/junior college for 12 semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term, leading to a specific educational and/or vocational objective;
  • Study at a post-secondary vocational/business school (other than a language training program), which confers upon its graduates recognized associates or other degrees or has established that its credits are accepted by 3 accredited academic institutions which are either a school owned and operated as a public educational institution by the U.S. or a state or political subdivision, or a school accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body. The school must also be certified by a DSO to consist of at least twelve hours of instruction per week, or its equivalent;
  • Study in a vocational or other non-academic curriculum (including a language training program taken at the school to further vocational training); 18 hours per week if work is done predominantly in a classroom or 22 hours if work is done primarily in a shop or lab. Flight schools are required to provide to the Attorney General the identification of a non-citizen who wishes to be trained on an aircraft with a maximum certified takeoff weight of 12, 500 pounds or more so that the attorney general can assess the security risk prior to the training.
  • Study in a vocational or other non-academic high school curriculum, certified by a DSO to consist of class attendance for not less than the minimum number of hours a week, as prescribed by the school for normal progress towards graduation.

Online and Distance Education Courses

Generally, distance education or online courses do not count toward an M-1 student’s full course of study unless the course requires the student’s physical presence.

Reduction in a Student’s Course Load

In the case of an illness or medical condition that has been documented by a licensed medical doctor, a designated school official may authorize an M-1 student to reduce his/her course load for a period not to exceed 5 months. An M-1 student who was previously authorized for a reduction of study due to an illness or medical condition for an aggregate of 5 months, may not be authorized to reduce his/her course load on subsequent occasions during the course of study.

Maintaining Status while participating in Practical Training

Practical Training is an important opportunity for many M-1 students; however, it is important for the student to maintain M-1 status for the duration of the training. Through practical training, the student is eligible to work for a maximum of 6 months. In order to maintain status during practical training, the student is required to report each of the following within 10 days to the designated school official:

  • Any change of name or personal address;
  • The start or end of employment (only through practical training);
  • Change of employer’s address; and
  • Change of employer’s name.

If the student fails to report this information, he/she will be considered in violation of their M-1 status and may jeopardize their legal status in the U.S.


Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: 8 CFR § 214.2(m)(9)
DOS Foreign Affairs Manual: 9 FAM 41.61 N9.1

(Updated 10/16/2012 by AD)

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