M-1 Student Visas - Overview

m-1 visa


Overview of M-1 Student Visas

Foreign students who want to study in the United States at a vocational or nonacademic institution (exempting language training programs which require F-1 student visas), or at certain junior college programs, may apply for an M-1 Student visa 1 2 The process for obtaining an M-1 student visa is similar to that of obtaining an F-1 student visa for full time students. However, M-1 students face more restrictions on their activities in the United States, their ability to subsequently change status, and their duration of stay.3

Rules for Obtaining an M-1 Student Visa

The process for applying for an M-1 student visa is nearly identical to applying for an F-1 student visa.4 5

Changing from B-2 Visitor Status to M-1 Student Status

The same rules apply for the circumstances in which a prospective student may change from B-2 visitor status to M-1 student status as to B-2 visitor status to F-1 student status.6 7

Rules for Duration of M-1 Status

M-1 students are admitted either for whichever is less between the projected duration of their course of studies and an additional thirty days, or one year. 8 M-1 students are eligible to extend their stay in the United States for up to three years if needed to in order to complete their course of study.9 10

Like F-1 students, M-1 students are required to keep their biographical information and records up to date on the SEVIS web system as part of staying in status.

Rules for Employment and Practical Training for M-1 Students

Unlike F-1 students, M-1 students are prohibited from obtaining employment while on M-1 status.11

M-1 students are permitted to engage in practical training only if equivalent training is unavailable in their country of origin.12 M-1 students who satisfy that requirement may engage in one month of practical training for every four months of studying, but may not exceed six total months of practical training while on M-1 status.13

Rules for Transferring for M-1 Students

M-1 students are permitted to transfer from a school or nonacademic institution only during their first six months of study.14 An M-1 student who transfers must continue working toward the same educational objective that the M-1 student visa was issued for.15

Rules for Changing from M-1 Status

Unlike F-1 students, M-1 students are not permitted to seek a change to an H status to work in their field of study.16 They may, however, seek to change to an H status visa to work in a different field.17 M-1 students are not permitted to change their status to that of F-1 student.18 19


  1. 8 C.F.R. § 214.3
  2. p.230, 248 — Numbers refer to page numbers in Weissbrodt, David, and Laura Danielson. Immigration Law and Procedure in a Nutshell. 6th ed. N.p.: West, 2011. Print. West Nutshell Ser.
  3. p.248-49
  4. p.231
  5. See Applying for F-1 Student Visas
  6. p.237
  7. See Changing F-1 Status.
  8. p.248
  9. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(m)(10)
  10. p.248
  11. Id.
  12. Id.
  13. Id.
  14. Id.
  15. Id.
  16. p.249
  17. Id.
  18. 8 C.F.R. § 248.1
  19. p.249