M visa for Students

M visa for Students

The "M" visa is reserved for nonimmigrants wishing to pursue nonacademic or vocational studies.

"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.

Is the M-1 visa for me?

If you are going to the U.S. primarily for tourism, but want to take a short course of study of less than 18 hours per week, you may be able to do so while visiting the U.S. on a visitor visa. You should inquire at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If your course of study is more than 18 hours a week, you will need a student visa.

M-1 Student Visa Requirements

Foreign students seeking to study in the U.S. may enter in the M-1 category provided they meet the following criteria:

  • The student must be enrolled in an "academic" educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program;
  • The school must be approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);
  • The student must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution;
  • The student must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency;
  • The student must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study; and
  • The student must maintain a residence abroad which he/she has no intention of giving up.

How do I know if the school and program meet the USCIS criteria?


You cannot enter as an M-1 to just study in a general education program.   Your program must have a goal and you must be involved in a "full course of study."   This means that you are studying 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.


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 M-1 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 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status to enable you to apply for your student visa.   For assistance with your application, please contact our experienced Los Angeles immigration and visa attorneys today!  We offer a free initial consultation.  [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]

Where should I apply for an M 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 should I apply at the consulate for my student visa?

Keep in mind that June, July, and August are the busiest months in most consular sections, and interview appointments are the most difficult to get during that period. Students need to plan ahead to avoid having to make repeat visits to the Embassy.


What do I need to apply for the M-1 student visa?

You should try bring the documents suggested below, as well as any other documents that might help establish your ties to the local community.   . These forms are free at all U.S. consular offices.

  • A nonimmigrant visa application completed and signed
  • A supplemental nonimmigrant visa form for all males aged 16-45.
  • 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.
  • One photograph 1 and 1/2 inches square (37x37mm) for each applicant, showing full face, without head covering, against a light background
  • a completed Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant M-N
  • You will need to show that you have enough money to support yourself.

Visa applications are time sensitive and any errors or problems may cause you costly delays and risk your visa opportunity.  For assistance with your application, please contact our experienced immigration and visa attorneys today!  We offer a free initial consultation.  [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]


What other evidence do I need to obtain an M-1 student visa?


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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