The M-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows an individual to come to the United States to attend a vocational or nonacademic program. The M-1 student must maintain a full course of study, which may vary depending on the particular program. M-1 students in other types of vocational or nonacademic institutions, such as flight schools and cooking schools, must maintain 18 hours per week if the study is predominantly in the classroom, or 22 hours per week if the study is predominantly in a shop or laboratory. For these types of institutions, a language training program taken at the school in order to further vocational training may comprise part of the hourly requirement.

Online courses, also called distance education, cannot count toward an M-1 student’s full course of study unless the course requires the student’s physical presence. An M-1 student may take a reduced course load only because of medical reasons, and only for a maximum aggregate of five months’ time.

The M-1 student is not permitted to change his or her status to another nonimmigrant status (i.e. from M-1 to F-1 or H-1B).

The M-1 student is not permitted to change his or her educational objectives. An M-1 student cannot accept employment, except for practical training after completing the program. The practical training must be applied for not more that 60 days before completion of the program or 30 days after completion of the program. Practical training is limited to one month of training for every four months of enrollment in a full course of study, and is limited to a maximum of six months. The M-1 student must apply for and have the employment authorization document (EAD) in hand prior to commencing practical training.

The M-1 applicant must demonstrate that he or she has an unabandoned foreign residence, and that he or she has sufficient financial resources to support him or herself during the course of study.

How to Apply

The prospective student must apply and be accepted to a vocational or nonacademic program that is authorized by USCIS to issue a Form I-20 M-N under the SEVIS program. Once accepted, the prospective student then applies for an M-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad within 60 days of the program start date.

For further questions on how to apply or whether you may qualify for this visa, please contact our office.


M-1 students can be admitted a maximum of 45 days before the program start date. M-1 students are admitted for the time necessary to complete the course of study plus a 30-day grace period, or for one year, whichever is less.

An M-1 student may obtain extensions for a cumulative total of up to three years from the original start date, where required to complete the program.


Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age may apply for M-2 status. They are issued separate SEVIS Form I-20s. Dependents in M-2 status are not authorized to work in the United State and may not engage in full-time study, except that a child dependent in M-2 status may attend elementary and secondary school through 12th grade.

Map with North America depicted in white, with the most populated cities represented as small black dots, with darker shades indicating higher population density

Contact Us