M1 Visa is designed for students who wish to travel to USA to learn a special skill or vocation. Such skills includes; Cooking classes, flight school, Programming languages, welding ,cosmetology and other types of technical and vocational studies.
These Special courses must be offered by schools in the United States. Example, if you want to go to USA to learn how to fly an airplane. The first step is to know and apply for admission to the schools over there that offers the vocational or technical training. Consequently, the school will provide you with the I-20 form to fill and take to the embassy.
Applicants easily get this type of visa than any other student visa because it has no cap. Meaning, there is no limit to students that will get this kind of visa. Once your admission is certain and you do well with your visa interview – you are on your way to USA already.
It is important to know that the F1 visa can also allow you to travel and work in the united states. However, there is a difference between the F1 visa category and the m1 visa. The difference is that the F1 visa is specially designed for full degree courses while the M1 is to learn a skill for just a short period of time.
Work and Study program for M1 visa
The only type of work readily available for the M1 visa student is the Optional Practical training (OPT). The student in this type of training can only work one month of OPT in every 4 months of study.
The OPT allows the international student to get going with learning of the skill of choice that is not readily available in his home country. Students who are in this type of training can take up to six months of practical training after they complete their program. Also, there is a room for training extension after the 6 months.
How to apply for the Optional Practical Training
To work while studying under this type of visa, the student has to get an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
The processes for getting the EAD to work while studying is described below or you can follow the link for additional help.
Step 1; Student application for Practical training
The student has to follow the due processes to write to the Designated school official (DSO) about his interest to opt in for a Practical training. In his cover letter, he will explain to the DSO why he will need the training.
If the reason is due hardship or financial issues, then, he will need to attach a bank statement as a proof.
Step 2; DSO Recommends training to SEVIS
If the DSO finds the student worthy and eligible to work, he will apply on the students behalf to the SEVIS. He will print the i-20 form and sign it. Then, the form is handed over to the student to complete the process.
However, the DSO may invite the student for further proof and clarification before recommending the the Optional Practical Training under the 8 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 214.2(m)(13)-(14).
Step 3; filling and submition of form I-765
The student fills his details in the form I-765 from the USCIS website. He is also to sign the form I-20 from the principal of his school.
These documents are then submitted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with a filling fee of $410 ( visit the site to confirm the current price). Other items to be submitted includes;
- 2 passport photographs
- copy of visa and passport photo page
- Original copy of form I-20 and original financial documents.
Step 4; USCIS adjudicate form I-765
Upon receipt of the Form I-765, USCIS generates a receipt number and email a notice to the address in the form I-765. Hence,the status of the application can be tracked on the USCIS website.
Also, if there is any additional information required by the USCIS, they will contact the student. If not, the student is offered an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to start working.
Eligibility for the M1 visa
1. You must be a foreign student from outside the United States and also ready to go back to your country after the completion of your studies.
2. Having be offered an admission into a US technical college or other recognized vocational education institution. It is the duty of the institution to provide you with a copy of Form I-20
3. An M1 aspirant must be ready to take a full time vocational or technical course in USA.
4. The student has to show a strong tie to home country such as family, Assets and Bank account. This is to ensure that a student returns to his/her home country upon completion of studies.
5. Applicants may only study at the academic institution through which the visa was granted.
6. A proof of a strong financial support for your stay in United States.
Requirements for Application
- 2 recent passport photographs
- International passport
- English proficiency results such as TOEFL or the IELTS.
- The visa application fee and forms (Ds-160, I-20 and SEVIS fee receipt)
- Your academic documents such as degree certificate, scholarship certificate (if any), school transcript e.t.c
- Original Affidavit of Support from Sponsor
- Bank statements of Sponsor(s) for the past six months
How to apply for the M1 visa
Follow the steps below to apply for the M1 visa to work and study in US at the same time. The process is simple and requires you to be meticulous in each step.
Step 1: Get an admission in a US vocational or technical school
The first thing is to search for universities that offers the Training or skill you will like to acquire. You will have to apply for admission in any of these schools.
So many schools have different eligibility criteria for choosing their students. But, once offered admission by any of the American schools, they will provide you with Form I-20 to fill and submit to the American Embassy in your country.
Step 2: Apply online through the DS-160 form.
The next step is to apply online using the DS-160 form. The form will have all your details with regards to all the necessary information which are relevant to your background, objectives in the U.S and your program of study.
The form printed after filling and submitting the DS-160 form is one of the requirements for your visa interview at the embassy.
Step 3: Pay the visa application fee
To apply for a visa, the student is to pay a $160 non-refundable fee. This means that paying the fee is not a guarantee for you to get the visa. Therefore, in an event of visa denial, the fee will not be refunded.
Also, different US embassy in different countries may have other fees applicable. The most important thing is to make sure you document any proof of payment well for your visa interview.
Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
Every student that is to study in US goes under the database of SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). This system is solely built to maintain the current accurate and current information on non-immigrant students. (F and M visa), exchange visa (J) and their dependents (f2, M2 and J2 visa).
To be enrolled in this system, you will have to pay for SEVIS I-901 fee.
Prepare and attend your visa interview
The Embassy where you applied will give a date for the visa interview. The preparation process involves you getting all your documents ready such as;
- English proficiency test IELTS, TOEFL or its equivalent.
- 2 passport photographs
- A proof of a strong Financial support
- Proof of a country tie such as assets or family
- Your receipts for payments
- The form DS-160, I-20 and DS-157 (for males between 16-45)
- A valid international passport
During the interview, you are to provide the embassy or consulate with the above documents. Also, you have to convince the consulate on your reason you want to go to US for the training. you will have to also prove that you have a sufficient fund to keep you in US. Finally, a proof that will return to your home country after you complete your education.
M2 Dependent visa
The M2 visa is designed for spouse or children under the age of 21 that wish to travel with an M1 visa holder for his studies in USA. However, they will have to be provided their own Form I-20 to fill and submit.
It is also important to know that M2 visa dependents are to leave the country once the training is over.