M1 student visa guide

Learn how to apply for an M1 visa to study in the US.

In this article,

What is an M1 visa?

If you are planning to do non-academic vocational courses like cooking classes, cosmetology, mechanical classes, and technical courses, you need to apply for an M1 visa. 

This type of visa will allow you to enter and stay in the US for the duration of your course. You can also work part-time on your institution’s campus, get a driver's licence and open a bank account. You are also permitted to bring dependents along with you, but you need to apply for separate M2 visas for them. 

What are the eligibility requirements?

To be eligible to apply for an M1 visa, you need to be accepted for an occasional non-academic course from an institution in the Student Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP)’s list.

Individual institutions can have their own set of eligibility requirements like English language proficiency and specific prior educational qualifications. Check the website of the institution of your choice to see if you meet their eligibility requirements. 

Document checklist:

    • Your valid passport
    • One passport size photograph
    • I – 20 form
    • DS – 160 (online nonimmigrant visa electronic application)
    • SEVIS 1-901 fee payment receipt
  • Non-immigrant visa processing fee payment receipt.
  • Proof of educational qualification (degree certificates and transcripts).
  • Proof of funds (bank statements for three years prior to application with sufficient funds to support your education)

What is the cost of an M1 visa?

While applying for an M1 visa, you need to pay the following two fees:

Visa application fee - $160

SEVIS I-901 fee - $200

On the whole, you will be spending around $360 for your visa.

How to apply?

Step 1:

After your institution accepts your application, they will register your details with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). They will also give your I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status). Keep a physical copy of this form for verification during your visa interview.

Step 2:

Go to the US Department of State Consular Electronic Application Centre and fill out the DS – 160 form online and submit it. Take a print out of the application submission confirmation page for verification. 

Step 3:

Pay the SEVIS I-901 charge through the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement website and the non-immigrant visa processing fee through the Department of State’s Fee for Visa Services webpage. Take a print out of the payment receipts and keep them with the set of documents you are going to take to the visa interview.

Step 4:

Contact your nearest US embassy or consulate and book an appointment for a visa interview. Please do this as early as possible because certain embassies might have a heavy workload and might find it challenging to allocate time for your interview soon. 

Once your interview is scheduled, the embassy will send you an interview appointment letter. Take this letter along with your other documents when you go for your interview.

Step 5:

Attend your visa interview on the appointed date. Try to go a little in advance with all your required documents. Most of the questions will be about your background and the course you are going to take up. The visa officer will try to find out your intentions behind this decision to study in the US.

For more on US visa interviews, read, ‘How to clear your US visa interview.’ 

Usually, you will be informed about the status of your visa application right after your interview. Even if there is a delay, you will know the status of your M1 visa application within four weeks.