F-1 STUDENT VISA AND M-1 VOCATIONAL TRAINING VISA
Foreign citizens interested in studying in the United States must be accepted and approved by a School or Program in the United States. Once accepted, educational institutions will provide each applicant the necessary approval documentation to be submitted when applying for a student visa.
F-1 Visa - Types of Study
The F-1 is the most common type of student visa, and is meant for Academic Studies in the US (more than 18 hours a week) at the following types of US approved schools:
- College or University
- High School
- Private Elementary School
- Approved English Language Program
M-1 Visa - Types of Study
The M-1 is intended for students who plan to engage in non-Academic studies, other than an English language training program, including:
- Vocational study
- Training at a US Institution
F-1 and M-1 Application Process
The following steps are required to apply for an F-1 or M-1 visa:
1. Apply to a SEVP-approved school in the United States - After the SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) certified school accepts your enrollment, you will be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
2. SEVIS I-901 fee - Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. The SEVP-approved school will issue you a Form I-20.
3. Approved Form I-20 - Issued from your US School or Program. You must present the Form I-20 to the Consular officer when you attend your visa interview.
4. DS-160 Form - Complete Non-Immigrant Visa Electronic Application DS-160 Form and pay the visa application fee.
5. Schedule Appointment at US Consulate
6. Interview - Visit the U.S. Consulate on the date and time of your visa interview. You will need to bring a printed copy of your appointment letter, your DS-160 confirmation page, one recent photograph, your current and all old passports, and the original visa fee payment receipt. Applications without all of these items will not be accepted.
7. US Port of Entry Decision - The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. After you present your passport, visa, and Form I-20 at the port-of-entry, a CBP official will make this decision. Once you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.
F-1 Visa - Qualification Requirements
In order to qualify, applicants need to satisfy and prove several strict criteria during an F1 visa interview, including the following:
- Foreign Residence - F-1 applicants must have a foreign residence and must intend to return there upon the completion of their studies.
- Sponsoring Institution - While on your F-1 visa, you may only study at the academic institution through which the visa was granted.
- Financial Support - Applicants must demonstrate sufficient financial support.
- Ties to Home Country - All applicants must demonstrate that they have strong financial and social ties to their home country. Strong ties consist of, but are not limited to, the following: i. A job offer letter upon completion of studies, ii. Assets (i.e., house, land, vehicle, etc.), iii. Bank accounts, iv. Family.
F-2 and M-2 Dependent Visa
The F-2 visa and M-2 visa are non-immigrant visas granted to the F-1 or M-1 applicant's spouse and dependent unmarried minor children (Under 21 years). The F-2 and M-2 conditions are as follows:
- Study - F-2 or M-2 dependents of F-1 or M-1 student in the United States may study full time at an elementary or secondary school. F-2 or M-2 dependents may study part time at post-Secondary level in any certified program at a SEVP certified school provided that they are not studying on a 'full-time' basis.
- Employment - The F-2 or M-2 Spouse and Children of an F-1 or M-1 Visa Holder may not accept employment in the US. However, they may do volunteer work provided that there is no compensation of any kind.
- Limitations - The F-2 or M-2 Visa Holder's eligibility to stay in the US is contingent upon the status of the principal F-1 or M-1 visa holder maintaining their legal status and extending their program in a timely manner.
- Visa Application - Documents - Passport, Photos, F-2 or M-2 Dependent SEVIS Form I-20, Visa Application fee and Forms, and copies of the F-1 or M-1 student's immigration documents, proof of student status, and financial documentation.