The M1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for international students who need an entry to the U.S. to pursue a course of study that is not primarily academic in nature at a reputable vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution such as a post-secondary vocational or business school.

The foreign student must enroll in a school approved by the United States Immigration and Customs (USCIS) Service, the State Department, and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

The M1 does not have a limitation to the number of applicants can come to the U.S to attend vocational courses.

The M1 visa is for the international students who wish to enroll in vocational studies in the United States. Courses like Cooking classes, flight school, technical courses, cosmetology, mechanical classes, and some others are considered vocational studies.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Not everyone can apply and be eligible for the M1 visa to get a vocational degree. To be allowed to apply for an M1 visa and to qualify for it, these conditions need to be met.

M1 Visa Requirements:

M1 students have to be accepted at an SEVP institution

The student must be accepted by an approved institute. The institute must be present in the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) list. To be qualified to apply for the M1 visa, you are required to apply and get admission at one of these institutions from the list. if you are accepted, the institute will enlist you into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and provide you a Form I-20 which is Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.

Have high English proficiency

International students must be good in demonstrating English proficiency skill. Their English skill level should be high enough to let them to understand and speak as required by institutions. The students should understand lectures and be able to discuss class concepts. Students should have TOEFL or IELTS test score to prove their English proficiency level.

Prove strong ties to your home country

With the M1 visa you must go back to your own country after you have completed your education.  And therefore, a strong ties to your country must be proved through a number of documents like family documents, property deeds, proof of address, etc. the embassy officer rejects applicants who fail to satisfy the visa officer that he or she is going to return to his or her country.

Be able to finance your education and stay in the U.S

To get the M1 visa approval you must prove that you can cover all of your expenses while studying and living in the U.S.

Source: U.S. Department of State

The processing steps of the M1 visa is fairly similar to the application process of the F-1 visa. The following steps are the essential steps you should be knowing before you apply:

Get your I-20 Form

When you are accepted into the vocational school of your choice, you will be provided the I-20 form. You can initiate the application process with this form.

Submit DS-160 form online

You need to go to your DS-160 form that is to be submitted online.

Pay the visa application fee

The government visa application fee for the M1 visa is $160 (non-refundable).

Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee

Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee for the M1 visa which is $200.

Schedule your interview

You will have to schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy for your visa appointment. Try to do this as early as possible, since U.S Embassies have a high amount of work and it might take a while for them find you an appointment. After you schedule the interview, you will get your interview appointment letter which you need to attach to your documents file.

Source: U.S. Department of State

US M1 visa application should have the following documents:

  • Your passport with at least 6 months’ validity period
  • The DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Your visa appointment letter.
  • One US Visa photograph.
  • Receipts which prove you have paid your fees.
  • Your original I-20 form and one copy.
  • Proof of your educational qualifications such as:
    • Academic degrees and diplomas.
    • Academic transcripts.
    • Standardized test scores, etc.
  • Proof of your financial capacity, such as:
    • Bank statements for the last 3 years.
    • Tax certificates for the last 3 years.
    • Provide all relevant information for scholarship for your education in the U.S, (if applicable).
    • If you will be supported by an individual in the U.S, submit Form I-134, Affidavit of Support and the person’s bank and tax return information for the last 3 years.
Source: U.S. Department of State

The visa application fee for the M1 Student visa is:

Filing Fees: $160

SEVIS I-901 Fee: $200.

Source: U.S. Department of State

There are also significant differences between F-1 and M1 visas. With the F-1 visas students can enroll in academic and degree bearing education, for example, a Bachelor’s or a Master’s Degree. On the other hand, M1 visa is just for short vocational courses.

Source: U.S. Department of State