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Student Visas (F-1 & M-1)

Student Visas (F-1 & M-1 Visas)

A student wishing to attend a university or other academic institution in the United States requires a student (F-1) visa; those wishing to attend a vocational or non-academic institution require M-1 visas.  Holders of visitor (B-2) visas and those who have entered the United States visa free under the Visa Waiver Program are prohibited from entering into full-time study.

For complete information please visit the Student Visas section of the Travel.State.gov.

Academic (F-1) Visa

A student wishing to attend a university or other academic institution in the United States, including primary and secondary schools, or a language training program requires an F-1 visa.  The Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits the issuance of F-1 visas to students who are going to the United States to attend public elementary schools (grades K through 8, approximately ages 5 to 14) and publicly-funded adult education programs such as foreign language classes.  Students applying for F-1 visas to attend public secondary schools (grades 9 through 12, approximately ages 14 to 18) are limited to a maximum of 12 months of public high school in F-1 status and must show proof that payment has been made for the full, unsubsidized cost of the education before a visa can be processed.  Students attending private elementary and secondary schools are not affected by this ruling.

Non-Academic (M-1) Visa

A student wishing to pursue a course of study which is not principally academic in nature at an established vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, such as a post secondary vocational or business school, requires an M-1 visa.

Applying for the Visa

You are required to obtain from the school or academic institution either the form I-20A-B Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status - For Academic or Language Students or the form I-20M-N, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status Form.  Schools and institutions which have received United States government approval to enroll foreign students have the authority to issue these forms.  The I-20A-B or I-20M-N is not valid for travel unless accompanied by a valid visa.  Once you have this form, please review the following FIVE STEPS below before beginning your visa application.

Step 1: Follow this link to find out How to Apply

Step 2:  Pay the SEVIS fee

Step 3: Complete the online DS-160

Step 4: Gather additional required documents

Step 5: If you have ever been arrested and/or have a criminal conviction, have a medical ineligibility, or have been denied entry into or deported from the United States, you will be required to furnish documents relating to your situation in support of your application.

We always recommend that individuals apply for visas well in advance of their proposed date of travel.  No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance.  Therefore, final travel plans or the purchase of non-refundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued and you have received your passport via DHL.

Entry and Length of Stay

The holder of a student F-1 or M-1 visa may enter the United States up to 30 days before the designated registration date on the I-20A-B or I-20M.  The 30 day limitation does not apply to students returning to resume studies; they may enter the U.S. at any time.  The holder of an F-1 visa may remain in the United States for up to 60 days following the completion of the course or practical training.  Note: The duration of status of an F-1 student in a publicly-funded secondary school cannot exceed an aggregate of 12 months schooling.

The holder of an M-1 visa may remain in the United States for the period of time it will take to complete the course of study as indicated on the I-20M plus 30 days, or for one year, whichever is less.

If you wish to remain longer, you will be required to apply for an adjustment of status or extension of stay from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service office that has jurisdiction over your place of residence in the United States.

Spouses and Children

  • Spouses and Children

    Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay may qualify as a derivative.  Please visit our section on spouses and children.