The USA M1 visa is for those who want to study in vocational courses in the United States. Among these courses, the following can be mentioned:

  • Cooking classes
  • Technical courses
  • Mechanical classes
  • Flight school
  • Cosmetology

Fortunately, there are no restrictions on the annual visa issuance. In other words, if you are eligible to receive an M1 visa, you can apply for this visa without any limitations.

In this article, we intend to explain the requirements of an M1 visa, processing time, interview questions, and the application process.

What is M1 Visa USA?

Students who receive an M1 visa can study full-time in the United States. While in the United States, they can obtain a driver’s license, open a bank account, access healthcare, and work under certain conditions. They can also transfer schools within the first six months of their program.

There are differences between M1 and F1 visas. Holders of F1 visas can study at such levels as bachelor’s and master’s degrees. They can also transfer to any school at any time. Students studying under an F1 visa can also enroll in language courses, while M1 students cannot.
Holders of the M1 visa cannot perform the following activities:

  • Working full time outside of campus
  • Studying and complete the vocational program as a part-time student
  • Changing program or institution six months after the start of the program
  • Continuing higher education at the undergraduate or other degrees

Who is eligible for M1 visa?

Applicants for this visa should consider the following conditions:

 Admission from a SEVP institution

The Student Exchange Visitor Program or SEVP contains a list of institutions that offer vocational courses and admit students under the M1 visa. So if you want to qualify for this visa, you must first get admission from one of these institutions. After receiving admission, the institute will issue a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.

English proficiency

Foreign students who intend to study in the United States must be able to understand and speak English based on what their educational institution determines. They need to be able to understand lectures well and discuss class concepts. They can take tests such as IELTS or TOEFL to assess their English language proficiency.

Return to home country

As an M1 visa applicant, you must prove that you will return to your home country after completing the course. Therefore, providing documents related to the assets you have in your country, employment commitment, and family ties can prove that you do not intend to reside in the United States.

Financing during the study

You have to prove that you can afford your expenses in the United States. The I-20 form issued by the institute estimates the expenditure for one year in the United States. You must provide proof that you can cover it. If you plan to bring your family members to this country, you must prove that you can finance their stay.

If by chance you want to know how a lawyer can immigrate to the US, read this article

How to apply for an M1 visa?

You must first receive admission from an institution. Then they issue the I-20 Form to you. The steps you must go through to apply for this visa include:

1. Issuance of I-20 Form

The I-20 Form is issued after being accepted by the vocational institute. By receiving this form, your admission process will begin.

2.Complete DS-160 Form

At this step, you must complete the DS-160. All applicants for nonimmigrant visas must complete this form. This form contains questions about your background information and the purpose of your trip to the United States.

3. Pay the application fee

The cost of applying for a USA M1 visa is $160, which must be paid by the applicant. Keep the payment receipt with you. You may also have to pay for visa issuance, depending on the relationship between your country and the United States. Since all international students are registered in SEVIS, $200 must be paid as SEVIS I-901.

4. Schedule the interview

All individuals between the ages of 14 and 79 need to attend a visa interview. You need to schedule your interview. After you have made this appointment, you will obtain a confirmation letter that you need to bring on the day of your interview.

5. Prepare documents

As M-1 visa applicants, provide the following documents:

  • A valid passport: Passport validity should be at least six months from the date of visa expiration.
  • Applicant Photo
  • Form I-20 and a copy of it
  • DS-160 Form confirmation page
  • Receipts of payments
  • Visa interview confirmation letter
  • Applicant’s educational qualification, including diplomas, transcripts, the result of the language test, etc.
  • Evidence that the applicant can cover his/her expenses:
    • Bank statement related to the last three years
    • Tax information for the last three years
    • Scholarship

6. Participate in the interview

It is recommended to have a photo with you on the day of the interview. You will be asked some questions about your background, education, and purpose of your trip to the United States. You have to answer all the questions honestly. In the following, we will address some questions that may be asked in the interview.

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What are the most frequently asked questions in a USA M1 visa interview?

The most frequently asked questions in an M-1 visa interview are about your background, the program you plan to attend, and financial support.

You may be asked about your program:

  • At which school do you plan to take your vocational course?
  • How many schools have you applied for?
  • How many schools have you accepted, and how many schools have you rejected?
  • What is your language test score?
  • What is your field of study?
  • Why did you choose this field? Do you have related experience in this field?

Examples of questions about your background include:

  • Where did you complete your last course of study?
  • Can you tell me your GPA in your previous degree?
  • What is your plan after getting a visa? What if your visa is denied?

In order for the consular officer to know how your tuition fees will be covered, he/she will ask the following questions:

  • What is your parents’ job?
  • What is your family income?
  • Do you have a scholarship? Does anyone sponsor your expenses?
  • Can I see your bank statement and a tax return?
  • Do you have relatives in the US?
  • Where will you stay while you plan to participate in the program?
  • Do you have a bank loan to pay for your studies?

How long does it take to assess documents and issues an M1 visa?

The processing time of documents and issuing a USA M1 visa is relatively short. In fact, the processing is done before the interview, and on the day of the interview, you will be immediately informed of the result of your application. At the end of the interview, the consular officer congratulates you or explains the reasons for your rejection.
In most cases, the processing time for an M-1 visa is up to 4 weeks. Even if this period is more extended, do not worry, the workload of different embassies varies.

How many years is M1 visa valid for?

The validity of your permission depends on the duration of the vocational program. Your visa may be valid for the entire study period or shorter. However, Form I-20 is only valid for one year. This indicates that you must reapply for a Form I-20 at the end of one year.
If you want to apply for a visa extension, you must complete Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status and submit it to the USCIS.

Can M1 visa holders change their visa status?

Yes, they can change the status of their visa to other nonimmigrant visas, but there are limitations. For example, they cannot obtain a student visa. It is also a bit difficult to change the status of M1 to H1B.
Holders of the M1 visa should be aware that they cannot change their visa status to a Green Card. To receive a Green Card, you must have one of the following features:

  • Having extraordinary abilities
  • Marry an American citizen or a person who has legal US citizenship
  • Economic investment in the United States with a minimum of $500,000

Can the visa holders bring their dependents to this country?

Yes. They can bring their spouse and children under the age of 21 to the United States on an M-2 visa. In this way, family members of M-1 visa holders can be with them throughout their studies. M2 visa applicants must obtain a separate I-20 form.
M-2 visa requirements depend on the conditions of the principal visa holder. Thus, when the M1 visa expires, M2 visa holders must also return to their home country.
Holders of this visa are not allowed to study or work but can participate in recreational training courses such as cooking classes. Children can also complete their primary and secondary education in the United States.

Can I work with M1 visa?

Holders of this visa are allowed to work under limited conditions. They can only work part-time or full-time on campus. When the school is open, they can work part-time and full-time during breaks. The maximum time they can work is a maximum of six months. To be allowed to work, they must obtain Employment Authorization Document (EAD). To receive this certification, Form I-538, Certification by Designated School, must be submitted to the USCIS. This form must be signed by your Designed School Official (DSO). If your certification is approved, you can work in your field of study.

What is M type visa?

The US M visa types are for people who want to continue nonacademic or vocational studies in the US. The M visa applicants can not study at MS or MA levels in the US, and to do so, they need to apply for F visa types. The applicants need to provide proof of enough funds to pay the tuition and costs of living in the country.

There are also eligibility principles that the applicants need to fulfill. You can see the section above to know about them.

Infographic What are the requirements of the US M1 visa?

How much does M1 visa cost?

The US M1 visa could cost you about $160, which you have to pay before taking the interview with the embassy. You also need to pay the visa issuance fee; if your visa is to get issued, that depends on the US relationship with your country and is up to change.

Since all international students are registered in SEVIS, $200 must be paid as SEVIS I-901.

Remember that the US embassy in your home country might provide further services, and you need to pay a bit higher.

Can M1 visa change to H1B?

Yes, the M1 visa holders can change their visa status to an H1B visa, but it’s a bit difficult. You can change your visa status to an employment-based visa in case it was not your intention to adjust your status at the time you entered the US.

You need a job offer from an employer in the US so you can apply for an H1B visa. It could be hard to find a job offer, and the employer needs to file a petition to USCIS so the applicant can continue to apply for the visa.

What is the difference between F1 and M1 visa?

The F1 and M1 visa are both for foreign students who want to continue their education in the US. But the F1 visa is for people who want to study at a BS or MA program in a university or college. The M1 visa is for individuals who want to study at a vocational training course or a non-academic program. You need to be careful which one you should apply for.

While the M1 visa holders are allowed to work only on campus and part-time, the F1 visa holders have a better condition to work in the US.

Can M1 Visa marry US citizen?

Yes, you as an M1 visa holder, have permission to marry a US citizen but you need to wait for your priority date to become current (1-3 yrs). If your spouse is a US citizen, you do not have to wait and whichever is first, you can complete the procedures and receive the green card.

Marrying a US citizen is one of the ways you can receive a Green Card and stay permanently in the US.

What is M1 and M2 visa?

There are two subcategories with the US M visas; M1 and M2. The M1 visa is for foreign or international students who wish to study in a non-academic or vocational course in the US. The M2 visa is for the spouse and unmarried minor children of the M1 visa holders who can accompany their supporters to move to the US.

The main applicant who will study in the US needs to apply for the M1 visa and the family members who want to go to the US need to apply for an M2 visa.

How do I get an M1 visa?

The application process for an M1 visa got explained in detail in the above section. You need to receive an application from an education center in the US and complete the applications and forms. Then you need to pay the visa fees and schedule an interview with the US embassy.

Attend the meeting on the exact date and answer the questions and submit the requirements.

Do Canadians need M1 visa?

The citizens of Canada do not require a visa to study in the US. However,  they need a visa status when crossing the US-Canada border.

Receiving the I-20 (or DS-2019) Certificate of Eligibility from the uS university is essential. When the Canadian student receives the I-20, he/she will be registered with SEVIS, the student tracking system. The applicant will get a SEVIS  number and has to pay the fees.

When Canadian students want to cross the border and begin their studies in the country, they need to provide the following to the US immigration officials:

  • Original Canadian passport
  • The original I-20 (or DS-2019) certificate;
  • Evidence that the SEVIS fee has been paid;
  • Proof of ties to Canada.
  • Proof of financial independence to pay the tuition fees and living costs

Can I transfer from M1 to F1?

Overall, the answer to this question is no. You are not allowed to transfer from an M1 to an F1 US visa. But in some exceptional cases, you might have permission to do so.

If the student has been classified as an M1 incorrectly while he/she was an F1 student and can prove it was not his/her fault, the visa might be converted.

The M1 visa holder needs to submit the following to the Service office having authority over the school the student was last authorized to attend”:

  1. The Form I-20. It must come from the US school the applicant wants to attend.
  2. Current Form I-20 of the student, a copy is required.
  3. The form I-94 of the student
  4. A formal letter from the designated school official (DSO) of the school which the student or applicant was last permitted to attend. It explains the reasons that the DSO believes that the student’s nonimmigrant classification should be changed from M1 to that of an F1 student.

If the applicant can provide the above requirements, the USCIS could agree and grant the conversion from M1 to F1 visa.

Let’s sum up …

In this article, we reviewed the requirements, application process, document, duration, interview questions, and processing time for the USA M1 visa. On the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US student visas like F2 visas as well as ways to immigrate to other countries.  In case you have some experience, please write it down in the comment section. Your comments let the readers choose better and avoid mistakes. Conveying your experiences in comments is a great help for applicants.


Mostly one year but enough to complete your vocational course.

No, you can not but can change your status under certain conditions.

Yes, under an F-1 you can transfer to a University after you have completed your vocational program but after M1 you must return home.

students may travel abroad during times when school is not in sessions, such as weekends, holidays, or time between terms.

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  1. KEVIN says:

    what language course do I need to take for a US M1 visa?

    • You could take IELTS or TOFEL language certificates but the type depends on your situation. Determine if the SEVP institution requires IELTS or TOFEL and what score you need for acceptance. The language certificate is much up to the SEVP institution you apply for.