M-1 Visas for International Vocational Students

The M-1 visa for international vocational students is a complementary visa to the F-1 visa for foreign academic students. F-1 visas apply to students who wish to study at an academic institution, such as a university or in a language program, while M-1 visas are for students who wish to attend a vocational or recognized nonacademic institution, not including language programs. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) outlines the general requirements for M-1 visa eligibility.

  • The applicant must gain enrollment in a vocational program.
  • The applicant's vocational institution or program must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program and Immigration & Customs Enforcement.
  • He or she must be enrolled as a full-time student at the vocational institution.
  • The applicant must be able to speak English proficiently or be enrolled in English proficiency courses.
  • He or she must be able to support himself or herself while studying in the vocational program.
  • The applicant must maintain a residence in another nation, which the applicant does not intend to leave permanently.
M-1 Visa Length of Stay

M-1 visas are granted generally for a shorter time than F-1 visas. Successful applicants will be admitted for a time period sufficient for them to complete their studies plus a thirty day grace period, or for one year, whichever term is shorter. M-1 visas may be extended if more time is needed to complete necessary courses, but may not be extended beyond a total of three years and the thirty day grace period. If the applicant's course will take longer than three years to complete, the M-1 visa application may be denied. To apply for an extension, applicants must fill out and file Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status, with the USCIS between fifteen and sixty days before the visa expires.

Optional Practical Training

Similar to F-1 visas, M-1 visa holders may apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), albeit with more restrictions and through Form I-539. M-1 visa students may receive one month of OPT for every four months of study in their vocational program, up to a maximum of six months. Unlike the F-1 visa, M-1 visa students may work only after they have completed their studies.

Application Process

To apply for the M-1 visa, applicants must fill out Form DS-160 and submit to an interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, along with bringing the appropriate documents such as a valid passport. M-1 Visas may be issued up to 120 days before the applicant's program begins, but they will not be allowed to enter the United States prior to thirty days before their studies begin.

Contact an M-1 Visa Immigration Lawyer for Help

The law firm of Samuel C. Berger, P.C., can advise individuals, families, and businesses on how to bring immigrant relatives and employees to the U.S. They can help immigrants and nonimmigrants who live in the United States acquire their visas, including M-1 visas, Optional Practical Training, and green cards. To schedule a confidential consultation to see how Mr. Berger can assist you, please contact us today online or at (212) 380-8117.