For students who are pursuing a vocational or non-academic education, the U.S. makes what is known as the M-1 Vocational Student visa available.

Not every student who is looking to enter into the United States is doing so with the purposes of pursuing an academic education, such as one that can be found through a university, college or high school. Those students who are pursuing an academic education can seek to enter the United States through what is known as an F-1 student visa. For students who are pursuing a vocational or non-academic education, they are not without hope. In fact, the U.S. makes what is known as the M-1 visa available for people just like you.

According to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, over 12,000 people applied for the M-1 visa in 2010 which resulted in over 9,000 visas being issues. The M-1 visa allows for students to enter into the country to pursue a course of study that is deemed vocational and non-academic. This may be to study to become a mechanic, attend a technical trade school, attend a culinary school or even be enrolled in a full-time flight school or cosmetology school. These are not considered “academic,” but are still invaluable and allow for students to pursue a career in a specific path.

Understanding the Requirements of a M-1 Visa

Application for an M-1 visa is similar to applying for an F-1 visa, in that all forms will be need to be submitted to either a U.S. Embassy or Consular office which holds jurisdiction of the area of your permanent residency. Forms that will need to be submitted will include the Form I-20A-B, as well as the Form DS-160. Students may also be required to submit papers showing their transcripts, diplomas and scores from their standardized tests. Other items that may be required include fee receipts, a photograph, as well as a passport.

To be considered eligible to apply for an M-1 visa, the following must be met:

  • Must be accepted by a vocational institution approved by the USCIS
  • Must be completely fluent in English
  • Must have proven funds to care for one’s self financially
  • Must have a permanent residence in another country
  • Must be clearly intending to leave at the end of the study
  • What is the difference between an M-1 and F-1 visa?

    The scope of the M-1 visa is much more limited than the open-ended freedom allowed under the F-1 visa. For starters, those who are granted access into the U.S. under an M-1 visa are typically permitted for a much shorter stay – either for one calendar year or the day entered onto the I-94 card (but never longer than a year without an extension). Those who are granted an M-1 visa are also not allowed to change educational objectives, may not take an online or distance learning course and cannot extend past three years.

    If the M-1 holder needs to transfer schools, they are only permitted to do so within the first six months of their visit to the United States, as must be granted permission by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before making any moves. They are also not allowed to work while staying in the United States, except for work which can be classified as “practical training.” This is also limited to a maximum of six months.

    M-2 Visas for Spouses and Children

    Vocational and non-academic students who obtain a M-1 visa may also have the opportunity to bring certain eligible family members to the United States during the course of their stay and educational program. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), M-1 visa holders are permitted to bring their spouse and unmarried, minor children (under the age of 18) to the United States if they will be residing with them during their study.

    In order to obtain a M-2 visa for your spouse and / or children, your school or educational program must issue Form I-20, which will be used when you apply for their visas. In addition, applications require that you pay certain fees and provide a copy of your M-2 visa, certain documentation and identification evidence, and proof of your relationship to the applicants. Proof of relationship can be established by providing your marriage certificate or the birth certificate of your child. Typically, M-2 visas will be valid for the duration of your M-1 visa and course of study. Your spouse and children may enter the U.S. at the same time as you or may join you at a later date as long as they possess a valid visa. While in the country, your minor children will also be allowed to attend school during your stay.

    Work with Our New York Visa Lawyers

    Have more questions? We encourage you to involve a New York immigration lawyer at Pozo Goldstein, LLP as soon as possible. With extensive experience in immigration law, our attorneys and knowledgeable staff will be able to step up to provide you with the high-quality and reliable legal assistance that you truly deserve. To schedule your initial case consultation, take advantage of our online form or give us a call.

    More helpful immigration information can be found here:

  • New York Immigration Blog
  • Green Card
  • Citizenship
  • Visa News
  • An overview of Visas in the United States