These types of visas (F and M) apply to students entering the United States in order to engage in a full-time course of academic or vocational study. Depending on circumstances, many students may be eligible for employment authorization for up to one year and possibly longer for purposes of practical training in their fields.
F visas are a type of non-immigrant student visa that allows foreign nationals to pursue academic studies and/or language training programs in the United States. F-1 visas are only issued by U.S. embassies and consulates outside of the United States.Prospective students seeking to apply for an F-1 visa must apply at the schools and obtain form I-20. F-1 students must be able to demonstrate that they are able to support themselves during their stay in the U.S., as their opportunities for legal employment are quite limited.
There are three types of F visas available:
- F-1 visas are for full-time students
- F-2 visas are for spouses and children of F-1 visa holders
- F-3 visas are for “border commuters” who reside in their country of origin while attending school in the United States. These are granted to nationals of Mexico or Canada only and these visa holders may study part- or full-time
This type of student visa is reserved for vocational and technical schools. To apply for an M-1 visa, a student must obtain Form I-20 issued by a designated school official after the student has fulfilled a school’s admissions requirements and presented proof of financial resources. Form I-20 must be presented at a United States embassy or consulate in the student’s home country.
M-1 students are admitted into the United States for a fixed time period. Students may stay for the length of their training program plus any Optional Practical Training, plus a thirty-day grace period at the end of their training. Their stay may not exceed one year unless they are granted an extension for medical reasons.
M-1 students may not work on or off campus while studying, and they may not change their status to F-1.