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M-1 : Student Visa

M1 visa is a non-immigrant student visa that allows foreign nationals to engage in a full course of vocational or non-academic study in the United States.

M1 student visa details:

The M1 visa is suitable for foreign students wishing to attend a full vocational or non-academic course, other than language training, at colleges, universities, or conservatories in the United States . On M1 student visa, a person can remain in the country for one year or for as long as he or she is enrolled as a full time student in the course of study plus 30-days to prepare to leave the U.S.

The M-1 visa holders are able to apply for change or adjust status to other categories of US temporary visas. But, they cannot change to H-1B visa or F1 visa status if the employment offered is based on knowledge gained through studies while in M1 status.

One can enjoy the following privileges on an M-1 visa:

The M-1 visa holders can:

  • travel in and out of the U.S. (on short trips and return) or remain in the country continuously till the completion of their study program;

  • transfer from one college to another by notifying the alteration to the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services);

  • work lawfully on-campus on a part-time basis;

  • work lawfully off-campus on a project study that's related to their area of study; and

  • apply for a visa, commonly known as M2 visa, for family members accompanying them to the United States. The M2 visa is issued to the spouse and minor children (below age 21) of the M1 visa holders. These dependent visa holders can stay in the United States as long as the principal visa holder remains in legal status.

Note: Once an M1 holder is 6 months into a program of study, he/she is disallowed from changing his/her course of study, excluding under truly exceptional situation.

Documents required for applying M1 visa:

While applying for M-1 visa, the documents required include:

  • Original valid passport and any previous passports that are still in your possession;

  • Completed Form DS-156 (application for a nonimmigrant visa) and Form DS-158. All male students between 16-45 years have to also complete Form DS-157 (Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application);

  • Recent passport-size photographs;

  • A police certificate;

  • Original Form I-20M-N issued by your intended school;

  • Permission letter from the school/college you plan to study in; and

  • Evidence of financial support .

Extension of stay:

After the completion of studies, the M-1 visa holder can apply for extension of stay if he/she wishes to pursue practical training. In general, a person holding M1 visa will be authorized to have one month of practical training for every four months of study he/she has finished. The student will be limited to six months total training time.

To extend your stay, you must submit completed Form I-539 (application to extend or change nonimmigrant status) to USCIS at least 15 days (but not more than 60) prior to your approved stay in the country ends. At the same time, you are required to submit Form I-20I-D to the USCIS.