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M-1 Visa, student visa for vocational and technical schools

Overview: The M-1 student visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows foreign students wishing to pursue vocational or non-academic studies, other than language training, to enter into the U.S. To obtain an M-1 visa, the applicant must present a signed Form I-20 issued by a designated school official, typically the international student adviser.

M-1 students are eligible for a relatively short amount of Optional Practical Training: one month for every four months of study

Family: Spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age could apply for M-2 dependent visa. M-2 visa holder does not have work authorization in United States.

Period of Stay: stay for the length of their training program plus Optional Practical Training(OPT) period, plus a thirty-day grace period at the end of their training. Total stay may not exceed one year.

Green Card intent: Not permitted.

In fiscal year 2010, USCIS received 12,178 applications for M-1 visa, approved 9,192, denied 2,986, waived or overcome 1,505. USCIS also received 352 applications for M-2 visa, approved 243, refused 109, waived or overcome 55.

Visa Type:
  • M-1: non-academic or vocational student visa
  • M-2: spouse and children of H-1 Visa holder
  • M-3: student visa for for residents and citizens of Mexico and Canada

Qualification for M-1 Visa: To qualified for M-1 Visa, the applicant must
  • be enrolled in a vocational program
  • attend a school approved by USCIS
  • be enrolled as a full-time student at the vocational school
  • be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency
  • have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study
  • maintain a residence abroad which he/she has no intention of giving up

Work Authorization for M-1 Visa
M-1 students are eligible for one month of Optional Practical Training(OPT) for every four months of study. The application for OPT should include
  • cover letter explaining the student's situation
  • Form I-765(Application for Employment Authorization, $340 fee to Department of Homeland Security)
  • signed I-20 with OPT request(original copy)
  • copy of visa and passport photo page
  • 2 passport photos
  • copy of original I-20 and original financial documents
  • current bank statement
  • Form I-539(Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, $300 fee to Department of Homeland Security)
  • copy of I-94 card, front and back
Approved form I-765 will result in an OPT card(EAD) and approved form I-539 will result in a new I-94 departure card.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is designed to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State better monitor school and exchange programs and F, M and J category visitors. Exchange visitor and student information is maintained in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2). SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications via the Internet, to the DHS and Department of State (DOS) throughout a student or exchange visitor's stay in the United States.

All student applicants must have a SEVIS generated I-20 issued by an educational institution approved by DHS, which they submit when they are applying for their student visa.

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