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M-1 Visa

M-1 Visa in the USA

There are two nonimmigrant visa categories for individuals who reside abroad and want to study in the United States: F-1 visa and M-1 visa. The M-1 classification is reserved for students who intend to pursue a vocational or non-academic studies (other than language training) in the United States. A vocational program is a post-secondary educational institution designed to provide occupational education and technical skills required to perform the tasks of a particular job.

Examples of vocational programs include the following:

  • Health care
  • Food preparation
  • Cosmetology
  • Computer networking

How to Qualify for a M-1 Visa

In order to qualify for the M-1 visa, the nonimmigrant must establish the following:

  1. Bona fide student status with nonimmigrant intent
  2. Permanent residence in home country and no intent to abandon residence
  3. Acceptance for study at an established vocational or other recognized, nonacademic institution
  4. Proficiency in the English language
  5. Sufficient evidence of finances to attend the educational institution and live in the States throughout the duration of the program
  6. Will be enrolled in a full course of study

Important differences between F-1 and M-1 Visa

 F-1 VisaM-1 Visa
Part-timeCan reduce course load for medical reasons as long as a student obtains permission of the DSO and the reduced course load does not exceed a period of 12 months.Can only reduce course load for medical reasons and for a period of 5 months.
ExtensionAdmitted for Duration of Status (until completion of program) and no extension of stay needed.Admitted for the time necessary to complete the program and can only obtain extensions for a maximum of 3 years.
TransferCan transfer schools as long as student obtains a new I-20 from transfer school and notifies the DSO within 15 days of the start date listed on the new I-20.Can only transfer schools within first 5 months due to “circumstances beyond the student’s control.”
EmploymentCan start working on campus in the first academic year. Student may apply for part-time employment, CPT (Curricular Practical Training) or full-time employment, OPT (Optical Practical Training) after 8-9 consecutive months of school. Can apply for post-completion OPT (after graduation) for 12 months if student completed a non-STEM degree or 36 months if a student completed a STEM degree.Can accept practical training after completion of study as long as the training is in the field of study. If approved, the student will be allowed one month of practical training for every 4 months of study he or she completed. The student is limited to a total of six months practical training time.
H StatusCan apply for “H” status irrespective if the basis of “H” was training or education received as F-1 student.Cannot change status to “H” status if basis of “H” was training or education received as M-1 student.
Grace Period60 day grace period to leave the U.S. at the completion of degree or end of the OPT training.30 days grace period to leave the U.S. upon completion of vocation or non-academic study or end of practical training.

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