M1 Visa: Requirements, Processing Time, Validity, Rules, and How to Apply

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  • By:CANAM Group
  • Updated On:Aug 31,2023 11:01 AM IST

The M-1 visa is similar, in terms of process and eligibility, to the F-1 visa, which is for non-U.S. citizens seeking full-time enrolment at a language school or academic institution as a university, seminary, conservatory or high school.

M1 Visa  Requirements Processing Time Validity Rules and How to Apply .webp
Usually, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. One must have a student visa to study in the United States. The course of study and the type of school determines whether one needs an M visa or an F visa. The M1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign pupils to come to the US to take part in vocational, non-academic studies. While on the M1 visa, students cannot register for academic courses. If one wants to come to the US to study at an academic institution, one should consider applying for an F1 student visa instead.

The M1 Visa

Students may be allowed to accept employment only if it is a required part of their practical training and the employment is approved in advance by the office of the USCIS.


  • One can enter the U.S. as a full-time vocational student.
  • One can legally work part-time on campus.
  • One can freely travel in and out of the U.S. while on a valid visa.
  • Their dependents can live with them as long as they maintain their M1 status.
  • M1 visas are issued quickly.

M1 Visa: Requirements for getting a student visa for the USA

  • One must successfully complete a course of study normally required for enrollment.
  • One has to be accepted for a full course of study by a vocational institution approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The institution must send you a Form I-20 M-N, a Certificate for eligibility for nonimmigrant (M1) student status for vocational students.
  • Sufficient proficiency in English to pursue the intended course of study and access to sufficient funds to cover subsequent years.
  • Permanent residence in the home country, which is planned to be kept.
  • Intention to depart the U.S. upon completion of the course of study. This could be established by presenting evidence of economic, social and family ties in the homeland sufficient to induce one to leave the U.S. upon completion of studies.
  • Proposed educational courses in the U.S. would be useful in one’s homeland.

Required Documentation:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States- It must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the United States. Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed on the passport.
  • Nonimmigrant visa application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Application fee payment receipt, if one must pay before the interview.
  • Photo- You must upload the photo while completing the online Form DS-160. One printed photo could also be carried in the format explained in the Photograph requirements.
  • Certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant (M-1) student status for vocational students, Form I-20.
  • School sends a Form I-20 once students enter their information into the SEVIS database. Student and school officials must sign the Form I-20. All students must be registered in the student and exchange visitor system (SEVIS). If the spouse and minor children intend to live along with the candidate in the United States, they will each receive an individual Form I-20.

How to Apply-

M1 Visa Application Process
The duration of the M1 visa is usually one year, but it could extend to three years. Their admission criteria could differ across colleges and universities. Sufficient financial support is to be shown during the process. Health insurance documents are another important factor for covering medical costs.

  • Once the application is complete and submitted and the academic eligibility is proven, the institution issues the I-20 form to enable the student visa application.
  • Student visas are applied at the US Embassy or the US Consulate with permanent residence jurisdiction.
  • Payment of an application fee is non-refundable.
  • All applicants have to complete and submit the DS-160 form, which is an online application for the non-immigrant visa.
  • The DS-157 form is required for male applicants between 16-45 years of age.

Processing time for an M-1 visa

  • M-1 Visa is usually processed before the time of the interview, which makes it quicker to receive a response immediately after the interview.
  • The M-1 Visa processing usually takes a minimum of four weeks.
  • It is advisable to submit the application by considering the timeline of one’s course and classes starting.

Validity of the M-1 Visa
The validity of the visa depends on how long vocational education takes. One might be given a visa for the total duration of the studies or for a shorter time. As Form I-20 is only valid for one year, that means one has to be filled and submitted each year. The M-1 visa and the Form I-20 could be extended for a maximum of 3 years.

If the duration of the visa doesn’t last the whole duration of the course, one can apply for an extension by filling out Form I-1539, the application to extend or change nonimmigrant status to USCIS.

Rules for M-1 visa

  • Acceptance at an approved school, which will issue Form-I-20.
  • Evidence of ties to home and intention to depart the U.S. once the course of study is complete.
  • Sufficient funds for financial needs.
  • Preparation for the course of study.
  • Maintaining a full course of study.

Difference between M1 and F1 visas:

The M1 visa cost is currently $185, and it is non-refundable. There could be additional charges, depending on the embassy. Applicants may also have to pay additional SEVIS maintenance and processing charges.

The F1 visas are used by non-immigrant students for academic and language training courses. On the other hand, the M1 visa is used only to pursue non-academic or vocational courses.

F1 visa holders can transfer to a university after completing the community vocational program. A candidate living in the US on an M1 visa can only attend a vocational program for one year before returning to the home country. Students holding M1 visas cannot continue to the university level.

The M1 visa is a special visa that allows one to enter the United States to take courses in vocational studies. You should now have a much stronger understanding of the various aspects of the M1 visa, including M1 visa benefits, M1 visa requirements, and the M1 visa process.

For any more queries on any of the information discussed in this guide, feel free to contact Canam Consultants, the study abroad consultants.


Whether one is applying for the first time or renewing the visa, the same application process is followed through.
Students on F and M visas are not permitted to enter the United States earlier than 30 days before the start date of their program. If one wishes to enter earlier than 30 days before the start date, one must separately apply and qualify for a visitor visa.
Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not require visas to enter the United States as students, although they must present a valid Form I-20 at the time of admission.
If one has a nonimmigrant status preventing them from enrolling, they will first have to change their status to M-1. Failure to do so would likely result in a violation, which means they would not be permitted to extend their stay or change their status to M-1.
SEVP stands for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. Being a SEVP-approved school means that the institution is eligible to enrol F1 and M1 students. When one is choosing a school for vocational study in the US, they have to make sure that it is SEVP approved.

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