USA and the UK
What is an M1 Visa?
The M1 Visa is a study permit designed for pupils who wish to enroll in vocational studies. This includes flight schools, professional schools, cooking, and other non-academic classes.
You cannot use this permit to register for academic courses. If you wish to do that, you should apply for an F1 Student Visa. On the other hand, if you want to enroll in a short recreational course of study, a Visitor B Visa may be more appropriate.
Pupils of online and distance-education classes that do not require physical attendance are not eligible for a U.S. Student Visa.
Start your immigration journey in the U.S. with one of our immigration lawyers. Call us on +1844 290 6312 or inquiry online.
What do I Need to Know About the M-1 Visa?
An M1 Visa is for international pupils who are enrolled in vocational and non-academic studies in the United States.
This includes cooking classes, language programs, flight school, cosmetology or mechanical education, and other programs that come under “vocational study”.
This is a non-immigrant permit and it is only valid for one year, although students may apply for an extension for up to three years.
M1 Visa holders can only study on a part-time basis under specific circumstances and for no more than six months.
They are permitted to transfer schools only within the first six months of their program.
What are the M1 Visa requirements?
Since there is no cap in the number of permits issued every year, you only need to meet the set M1 visa requirements to have your application accepted. The conditions of eligibility are:
- Be accepted at a SEVP institution
- You must pay the full cost of your program before commencing your studies
- Have high English proficiency, enough to allow you to follow your vocational classes. You can prove your knowledge of the language by taking a standardized English proficiency test, such as the TOEFL or the IELTS
- Have a non-immigrant intent. This means you are supposed to return back to your home country after you have completed your course. In other words, you should prove strong ties by providing evidence of a permanent foreign address or family ties
- Be able to sustain yourself financially. To confirm your financial status, you should submit evidence, such as bank accounts statements.
What is the application process for the M1 Visa?
To start your M1 Visa application process, you must first receive an I-120 Form from your chosen educational institution. However, being accepted by your school does not automatically mean you will get your visa. The USCIS always has the last say on this kind of decision.
Once you receive your school’s confirmation, you can file your DS-160 Form. This will contain all of the necessary information regarding your claim, such as your background and your objectives in the U.S.
Do not forget to pay your M1 Visa application fee. The cost of filing this petition is $160. This is non-refundable, meaning that if you do not succeed in getting your visa, you will not receive your money back. To be registered in the SEVIS, you must pay an additional fee of $350.
At this stage of your M1 Visa application process, you will be ready to schedule your interview. It is advisable to do so as early as possible, especially if you wish to enter the U.S. before your classes start.
During your interview, the officer will ask you question about your intent in the U.S. It is recommended to present as many proofs as possible of your commitment to go back to your country at the end of your studies.
What are the documents required to support my eligibility?
The first step of your M1 Student Visa application is to obtain a Form I-120A-B from the academic institution of your choice.
Only schools that have received the USCIS approval can issue this document. It is important to note that receiving this form alone does not guarantee a successful M1 Student Visa application.
The USCIS will make the final decision regardless of your institution’s opinion.
Along with your M1 Visa application forms, you need to submit several documents. These are meant to support your claim, as well as demonstrate your intent. Your portfolio should include the following:
- A valid passport, valid for at least six months after the expiration of your visa
- Proof of your current educational qualifications. This includes degrees and diplomas
- Evidence of your English proficiency, such as standardized test scores
- Bank statements, tax information, and other evidence of your financial stability
What is the processing time for an M-1 Visa?
Your M1 Visa is usually processed before the time of your interview. This means that after your interview, you will most likely immediately receive your response.
Typically, the M1 Visa processing time takes a minimum of four weeks. Therefore, it is advisable to submit your application by taking into consideration the date in which your classes will start.
How long is the M1 Visa valid?
As a general rule, you may be granted a visa for the total duration of your studies. Nevertheless, your Form I-120 is only valid for one year.
If you wish to stay in the U.S. longer, you will have to get a new one each year. However, your petition and Form I-120 can be only be extended for a maximum of 3 years.
What are the differences between the M1 Visa and F1 Visa?
Although they are both generally known as Student Visas, the M1 and the F1 permit have different characteristics.
F1 Visas are for students who wish to attend a full-time degree or academic program at one of the schools and colleges accredited by the SEVIS. Pupils who are in the U.S. under this visa have the freedom to transfer schools at any point of the duration of their program.
On the other hand, the M1 Visa can be used only to enroll in a non-academic or vocational course. This is a broad category that includes mechanical, technical, and language studies. To maintain your M1 status, you cannot reduce your course of study below full time, unless exceptional circumstances occur.
Most importantly, F1 Visa holders are allowed to work full-time and off-campus. While you can still apply for an M1 Visa Work Permit, if you are under this status, you can only find a job on campus.
Is there an M1 Dependents Visa for my family?
Although your family is not eligible for an F2 Dependents Visa, your immediate relatives can join you in the U.S. while you attend your vocational course. However, only your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can join you by applying for an M2 visa.
Your family will be allowed to stay in the U.S. for the duration of your studies. As soon as your visa expires, they must return to their home country. It must also be highlighted that your relatives are not allowed to study or work in the U.S. However, they can still enroll in recreational courses and children may be accepted in elementary or secondary schools.
If your family members do fall into the legal definition of “immediate relatives”, they must find other ways to join you. For example, they can visit you for a short period by applying for a Tourist Visa.
Last modified on August 29th, 2023 at 6:57 am
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The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) provides a list of vocational schools that can accept M1 Visa applicants. After you get approved, you will be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You will then receive a Form I-120, that is the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.
While in the U.S. on your M1 Visa status, you are allowed to complete your vocational studies full-time. You can also:
- Open a bank account;
- Transfer school (only within the first six months of your program);
- Get a driving license;
- Apply for an M1 Visa Work Permit and get a job.
It must be noted that you cannot enroll in language courses with your M1 Visa. If you wish to access a broader range of schools and classes, you will need an F1 Visa.
Although the M1 Student Visa has a nonimmigrant intent, you are allowed to change your status to a permit with similar features. However, you cannot apply for an F1 Student Visa nor an H type permit. In the same way, you may face several difficulties while trying to go from an M1 Visa to Green Card.
If you wish to try to adjust your status in the U.S. and get a Permanent Residence Card, our immigration lawyers will be happy to help. We can review your case and assess your best options to remain in the U.S.
As an M1 Visa holder, you are allowed to work on campus, part-time when school is open and full-time during breaks. In total, you can work for no more than six months.
Before you can apply for a job, you must get an M1 Visa Work Permit. This is also known as the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). To apply for this permit, you must file a Form I-538 signed by your Designed School Official (DSO). You will also need to submit a Form I-756, Application for Employment Authorization.
When applying for an M1 Student Visa, you must prove to the consular offices that you maintain strong ties with your home country. Every year, many claims are rejected because applicants fail to show their nonimmigrant intent.
For this reason, it is advisable to seek legal guidance. At IAS, one of our immigration lawyers can help you gather the correct documents and build a successful supporting portfolio.
Your dedicated lawyer will also:
- Help you complete your M1 Visa application forms;
- Offer guidance if you wish to request an M1 Visa Work Permit;
- Help your dependents follow you in the U.S.;
- Liaise with the USCIS.
To learn more about our Application Advice Package, get in touch with our team of professional immigration lawyers. You can call us on +1844 290 6312 or use our online contact form.