This visa is similar to an F1 but it is normally for programs that have a shorter duration. M1 visa holders will process similar to an F1 and will only qualify for a limited post-completion OPT. You should work with your school to ensure you are on top of all the requirements and properly maintain status while in the US.
Compared to an F1 visa, which is granted to foreign students wishing to pursue a Bachelors or Graduate degree from an American university, the M1 visa is granted to students pursuing a short-term non academic or vocational training program. M1 visa holders are not authorized to work in the U.S. during their time in the country. They must also have evidence of sufficient financial backing to cover the cost of their program and any expenses while residing in the United States.
Foreign nationals who apply for an M1 visa cannot use it for “general” study purposes. Programs for which M1 visas are granted should have a set goal and the applicant must be enrolled in a full course of classes.
This means at least 12 credit hours per semester or quarter, depending on the school’s curriculum. The applicant must plan to attend a school in which anyone else would be charged the full tuition for a semester of classes. The only possible exemption is if a smaller course load would be required to finish out the program.
Applicants should be sure that the programs to which they are applying are well-recognized in the academic world. If applying to a junior or community college, the school’s credits would have to be accepted by at least 3 other higher learning institutions to qualify. If the school’s credits do not qualify, the application may still be processed if the applicant is enrolled in a DSO certified program in which they are required to attend a minimum of 18 study hours a week.
Applying for an M1 visa involves multiple steps, including admission into a school or program. The college or university should inform their applicants what they need to determine whether or not the application is eligible for their school. The school will also need to say that the applicant is financially able to support themselves, cover the cost of tuition, and not have to work during their period of stay in the United States. Some schools may also require that their applicants have international health insurance policies. Before sending any of these documents, it’s wise to hold onto a copy for your own records.
If you are accepted into a college or university, they will then issue you a form I-20 with which you can apply for a student visa. Fill out the form and submit it to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country or place of permanent residence. If you are not currently located in your home country or place of permanent residence, you may still apply at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, though the processing and qualification time may take longer and will be more likely to be denied.
Be prepared for the following when applying for an M1 visa:
● Pay a non-refundable $160 application fee;
● If you are a male between the ages of 16 and 45, you must submit a completed DS-157 form;
● Submit a passport with at least six months’ validity after the intended date of entry.
● Provide a color passport photo taken within the past six months that reflect your current appearance.
It is also important to note that when you apply for an M1 visa, you will have to prove to the consular officers that you have a strong connection to a resident in a foreign nation. This is to guarantee that you have no intention of leaving them permanently. This person may be your parent, sibling, or spouse. The intention here is that you must prove that you will return to your home country once you have finished the vocational program.
Bringing hard evidence with you is recommended because it can bolster your case. If you have access to proof of ownership over some property, proof that your immediate family is currently residing in your home country, proof that you pay a monthly mortgage overseas, a letter of invitation to a company in your home nation, or even the deed to a car can be enough to satisfy their request. Just be prepared to prove that you will not overstay your visa after completing your studies.