An alien who is going to pursue a full-course of study in a community/junior college, vocational/business school, or other non-academic institution in the United States can apply for an M-1 Visa with a U.S. Consulate abroad.
In order to be eligible to apply for an M-1 visa, there are requirements that must first be met. The applicant must:
In accordance with the "Retention and Reporting of Information for F, J and M Nonimmigrants; Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)", effective on January 1, 2003, an alien student may take the following steps to obtain an M-1 Visa:
Admission to an approved school: An alien first must apply to study at an approved school in the United States. When the alien contacts a school that he is interested in attending, usually he will be told immediately if the school accepts foreign national students. In order to apply for an M-1 visa, the alien must be admitted by an approved school.
If the alien is admitted, the school will issue him a SEVIS Form I-20.
The next thing for the alien to do is to take the SEVIS Form I-20 to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over his place of permanent residence to apply for an M-1 visa. The alien student must satisfy two criteria: (a) He must prove that he has no immigration intent and his travel to the U.S. is purely for studies; and (b) he must also prove to the visa officer that he has the financial resources required for his education and stay in the United States. Proof of English proficiency may also be required.
The consulate officer must also verify the student’s SEVIS I-20 and the student’s data in the SEVIS system before issuing a visa. It should be noted that the M-1/M-2 visa application will be denied if there is no SEVIS record for the student or if the student fails to pay the SEVIS fee.
The documents and information needed to apply for an M-1 visa are:
A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's 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;
One photograph following these requirements
A SEVIS Form I-20;
Evidence of sufficient funds;
A nonrefundable US$160 application fee; and
Documentation showing financial resources.
Furthermore, the U.S. consulate may issue the initial visa up to 120 days before the start of the school session; however, the initial student cannot enter the United States more than 30 days before the beginning of school. The first time an M-1 student interacts with the USCIS, the student will be issued a Form I-20ID copy with his/her admission number. Thus, the student must have the Form I-20ID copy with him/her at all times. If the form is lost, the student may request a new copy on Form I-102 from the USCIS office having jurisdiction of the school the student was authorized to attend.
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: 8 CFR § 214.2(m)(1)-(2)
DOS Foreign Affairs Manual: 9 FAM 41.61 N14.2
Immigration and Nationality Act: INA § 214(m)
For more information about M-1 visas, please click on one of the following links: