M-1 Visa Essentials: Explore Vocational Training Opportunities in the USA

M-1 Visa Essentials: Explore Vocational Training Opportunities in the USA


Are you excited to make your academic dreams come true? Whether you’re getting ready for job training or starting a program that’s not at a college, the M1 visa can help you learn in the United States, where there’s lots of new ideas. Let’s talk about the M1 visa and answer any questions you might have.


What is an M-1 Student Visa?

An M1 Visa lets students from other countries take hands-on, non-school courses in the United States. These might be cooking, language, flight training, beauty school, mechanics, and other job-focused classes usually offered at community colleges.

Here are some important rules for the M1 visa:

  • It’s a short-term visa for one year, with a chance to renew for up to three years.
  • M1 Visa holders can only study part-time in certain situations, for no more than six months.
  • If you want to switch schools, you can only do it in the first six months of your program.

What advantages does the M1 Visa offer?

Here’s a summary of the benefits that come with obtaining a US M1 visa:

  1. Study and Stay in the US: With an M1 visa, individuals can both study and live in the United States.
  2. Possibility of Extensions: Extensions are available, allowing a maximum program completion time of 3 years. Extensions may be granted for genuine students facing delays due to educational or medical reasons (excluding academic probation or suspension). It’s crucial to maintain status throughout the extension period.
  3. Immigration Benefits for Family: M1 visa holders can bring their spouse and minor children (under M2 status) to the US. While family members may not work, M2 children can attend schools from kindergarten to 12th grade. Each M2 dependent needs an issued SEVIS Form I-20 from the institution.
  4. No Annual Limit: Unlike some visas, there’s no yearly limit on the number of M1 visas issued, offering flexibility for eligible applicants.

M1 Visa Requirements: Documents You Need

When you’re applying for an M1 visa, it’s important to gather all the necessary documents to support your application. Here’s a checklist of what you’ll need:

  1. Ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond the visa expiration date.
  2. Include the confirmation page from your completed DS-160 application.
  3. Provide the letter confirming your visa appointment.
  4. Submit one recent passport-sized photograph for your visa application.
  5. Present receipts as proof of fee payments related to your visa application.
  6. I-20 Form: Include the original and a copy of the I-20 form issued by the institution.
  7. Educational Qualifications:
    • Degrees and diplomas
    • Transcripts
    • Standardized test scores, etc.
  8. Financial Stability Proof:
    • Bank statements for the last 3 years
    • Tax information for the last 3 years
    • Details of loans (if applicable)
    • Scholarship information (if applicable)
  9. Support from a U.S. Resident: If you’ll be supported by a U.S. resident, submit Form I-134 (Affidavit of Support) along with the individual’s bank and tax return information for the last 3 years.

Who is Eligible to Apply for an M1 Visa?

Since there’s no limit on the number of visas issued annually, meeting the specified eligibility requirements for the M1 visa is the main criterion for acceptance. These eligibility conditions include:

  1. Acceptance at a SEVP institution (Student and Exchange Visitor Program).
  2. Full payment of the program’s total cost before starting studies.
  3. Demonstrated high English proficiency, verified through standardized tests like TOEFL with a score ranging from 79 to 100, or IELTS with a score ranging from 6.0 to 7.0.
  4. Non-immigrant intent, showing a commitment to return to your home country after completing the course. This requires evidence of strong ties, such as a permanent foreign address or family connections.
  5. Financial self-sufficiency, substantiated by submitting supporting documents like bank account statements to verify your financial status.

How to Apply for an M-1 Student Visa?

To apply for an M-1 Student Visa, individuals need to follow a step-by-step process provided by the U.S. Department of State. This includes getting a Form I-20 from a school approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Completing these steps successfully enables prospective students to undertake vocational studies in the US.

Step 1: Get Your I-20 Form

Once accepted into a SEVP-approved vocational school, pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and receive Form I-20. This starts the M1 visa application process and leads to a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or consulate.

Step 2: Fill Out the DS-160 Form Online


Complete and submit the DS-160 form online, providing details about your background, goals in the US, and study program. Keep the confirmation code for your interview and document preparation.

Step 3: Pay the Visa Application Fee

Pay the non-refundable M1 visa application fee of $185 and keep the receipts. Note that there may be additional fees depending on the Embassy and specific country.

Step 4: Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee

Before paying the I-901 SEVIS Fee, obtain Form I-20 from a Designated School Official (DSO) at your chosen educational institution in the US. Provide personal information, nationality details, school information, and SEVIS Identification Number to pay the fee.

Step 5: Schedule Your Interview

Book your visa appointment as soon as possible, considering Embassy workload. Get your interview appointment letter once scheduled.

Step 6: Prepare Your Document File

Gather all necessary forms and documents for your visa appointment.

Step 7: Attend Your Interview

Attend your visa interview with all documents ready. Be prepared to answer questions about your plans in the US, financial situation, and ties to your home country. If you’re bringing dependents, bring evidence of your relationship with them.

M1 Visa Processing Time

The M1 visa usually gets processed quickly, sometimes even before the scheduled visa interview. After the interview, applicants often receive an immediate response, either approval or reasons for denial. However, it typically takes around 4 to 6 weeks for processing. If there’s a delay, it’s usually due to the Embassy’s workload and not a cause for concern.

Cost of M-1 Student Visa

The M1 Visa Cost in the USA includes a non-refundable visa application fee of USD 185 (INR 15,414). Additionally, applicants must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, which is USD 350 (INR 29,161). It’s important to factor in both of these fees when planning for the M1 visa application process to ensure all financial aspects are covered for a smooth application experience.

Navigating the M1 Student Visa Journey with GetGIS

In summary, obtaining an M1 student visa is a pivotal milestone for those aiming to pursue vocational or non-academic studies in the United States. Accessing precise and timely information is crucial throughout this journey.

As you embark on this endeavor, keep in mind that thorough preparation, meeting requirements diligently, and leveraging expert assistance such as GetGIS can enhance the efficiency and success of your M1 visa application process. Stay informed, stay prepared, and before you know it, you could be on your way to educational and professional growth in the USA. Schedule a Free Consultation


How long does an M-1 Visa last?

An M-1 visa is typically granted for the duration of your vocational training, which can be up to three years if you continue to extend it.

Can I get a Green Card with an M-1 Visa?

The M-1 visa is not typically a path to a green card. However, you can move to a green card by investing at least $500,000 in the U.S. economy, marrying a U.S. citizen while in the U.S. on your M-1 visa, or obtaining an H-1B visa from an employer.

What documents do I need to enter the U.S. on an M-1 Visa?

You need to bring a valid M-1 visa, passport, Form I-20, acceptance letter from your SEVP-certified school, evidence of personal funds to cover your educational, living, and travel expenses, name and telephone number of your Designated School Official (DSO), and address of your residence while studying in the U.S.

How long can I stay in the U.S. on an M-1 Visa?

You can stay in the U.S. for up to one year to complete your studies and any required practical training. You can request an extension to your stay if needed.

Can M-1 Visa Holders Extend Their Stay?

Yes, you can extend your stay for up to three years from your original course start date plus 30 days.

What happens if M-1 Visa Holders Overstay Their Visit?

If you overstay your visit, you must depart the U.S. within 30 days after the program end date listed on your Form I-20, including any authorized practical training.

Do I need to disclose my social media handles when applying for an M-1 Visa?

Yes, you need to disclose your social media identifiers/handles on the application form for a nonimmigrant visa.

Can I work off-campus on an M-1 Visa?

No, you are not allowed to work off-campus while studying on an M-1 visa.

Can I change my program or transfer to another institution after six months on an M-1 Visa?

No, you are not allowed to change your program or transfer to another institution after six months of beginning your program.

Do I need to have proof of purchased health insurance policy for an M-1 Visa?

Although not required, it is strongly recommended to get health insurance coverage before traveling to the U.S. due to the high costs of healthcare.


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