M1 Visa USA Explained: Eligibility, Application, and Costs

M1 Visa USA Explained: Eligibility, Application, and Costs

The USA is arguably the world’s most coveted study-abroad destination.

Keeping in mind the different types of educational programs, the US government grants different types of visas to international students.

In this guide, we’ll explain the M1 visa USA for international students.

Let’s start with the basics.

5 Things You Should Know About M1 Visa USA

  • The US Department of State issues the M1 student visa to international students for vocational studies or non-academic studies.
  • These vocational courses can be flight or aviation schools, cosmetology, cooking or gastronomy classes, professional makeup courses, etc.
  • The M1 visa USA is a non-immigrant visa.
  • The M1 visa cannot be used as a substitute for other academic purposes such as a degree course in a university.
  • The M1 student visa grants a temporary stay in the USA for a duration of one year only.

For a better understanding, check out the eligibility requirements, applications and other factors that are needed to get an M1 student visa. 

Eligibility Requirements of an M1 visa (USA)

To be eligible for any USA student visa, you have to be accepted by a US institution of higher education certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), and should be provided with an I-20 form to apply for a visa.

After receiving an I-20 form you can proceed to fill out a DS-160 form to get your M1 visa issued.


  • The M1 visa USA is a non-immigrant visa, and hence international students should provide a permanent foreign address with the intention of going back home.
  • The visa also requires international students to be financially stable to support themselves while staying in the USA.
  • Another chief requirement to successfully obtain an M1 visa in the USA is to have English proficiency.

International students take standardized tests such as IELTS/TOEFL to prove their abilities to comprehend and communicate in English.

To make the application process hassle-free, make multiple copies of their documents while applying for an M1 visa USA.

As you wait for the DS-I60 form to get issued from the USA university, you can gather other necessary documents like

  • Transcripts of educational qualifications – degrees, diplomas, etc
  • Tests scores for IELTS (6.5-7)/TOEFL (80-105)
  • Passport photographs
  • A valid passport
  • The original I-20 form and a copy.
  • Your DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Proof of fees paid in full amount to the university.
  • Proof of financial support such as – bank statements, tax information, and student loans (if applicable).
  • For international students supported by an individual in the USA, a form I-134 (affidavit of support) must be submitted, along with the person’s bank and tax information for the last three years.

With all these documents in hand, you can apply for an M1 visa USA with ease.

Tip: SelectRight professionals can help you assess your career goals, aspirations and talent, and further guide you with your M1 visa.

How to Apply for an M1 Student Visa?

The M1 visa USA allows students to study in the country for a duration of one year. However, it can be extended up to three years.

The application process starts off with getting your I-20 form issued by the university.


The process is quite similar to that of the other USA visas. Students should apply for the M1 visa USA at the nearest US Embassy or consulate.

While applying to the US consulate, follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Submitting the forms

The online application process begins with filling up the DS-160 form. This form inquires about your background information, objectives of studying in the USA and program details. Submitting this form issues a confirmation code needed for your personal visa interview and document file.

  1. Paying the visa application fee

The cost of the M1 student visa is $160 (13,000). The visa fee is a non-refundable amount. Depending on the country and embassy you are applying from, certain additional charges may be applied.

  1. Paying the SEVIS I-901 fee

Paying the SEVIS fee is mandatory for all international students. So, an additional SEVIS registration fee of $350 (28,944.82) for the M1 visa must be taken into account.

Tip: Hold on to the payment receipts for future reference.

  1. Scheduling an interview

Scheduling an interview with the US consulate in your home country is the most important step. It is best to schedule an interview in advance to avoid any last-minute inconvenience. After you schedule the interview, the consulate will issue an interview appointment letter, which needs to be attached to your documents.

  1. Compiling the documents

The documents listed above must be compiled together for verification during the interview. Make sure you have all the documents, transcripts and other essentials to support your study abroad plan.

  1. The interview

The important thing to keep in mind while attending an M1 visa USA interview is to articulate your intentions of coming back home after your studies. Plus, answer your interviewee with confidence and clarity.

While the M1 visa gets issued faster than other US visas, it is still advised that you initial your process well in advance.

M1 Student Visa Costs: A Breakdown










M1 visa fee






M1 Student Visa: Benefits and Limitations

While the benefits may be limited, there are still benefits you can get out of the M1 visa USA.

M1 Visa Advantages

M1 Visa Limitations

  • The M1 visa allows students to complete their vocational studies full-time and allows students to pursue any other type of non-academic degree.
  • Students can get a driver’s licence if they wish to.
  • M1 visa also allows students to open bank accounts in the USA.
  • The M1 visa also allows students to transfer schools within the first six months of their program.
  • You can still apply for on-campus jobs with an M1 visa.
  • You can travel in and out of the country without any restrictions.  
  • You cannot work full-time off campus with an M1 visa.
  • You cannot apply for any part-time programs
  • With an M1 visa you also cannot continue academic studies such as a bachelor’s or any other equivalent degree.



  • For individuals who wish to bring their spouse or children to the USA with an M1 visa, an M2 visa appointment can be made. However, the SEVIS fee will not be paid.
  • The M2 visa is issued to the dependent spouse and eligible children of the M1 visa holder to enter the US. It is also a non-immigrant permit.
  • To get their M2 visa issued, your institute should issue an individual form I-20 for your spouse or children.
  • Under the M2 visa, minors are allowed to study in the US during the visa duration. However, spouses are not permitted to work or study there with an M2 visa.

M1 Student Visa Vs F1 Student Visa – Which One Should You Get?

The M1 visa USA is issued only for the purpose of vocational studies in the USA. It is different from other visas such as the F1 visa.

The F1 visa is issued to students who want to enroll in an academic institution or university for the purpose of getting an educational degree such as a Bachelor’s, master or doctoral degree.

It is strictly observed that students with M1 visas USA should go back to their homes thirty days after the course is over.

Staying in the country post the validity of the visa could get you into trouble.

However, using the M1 visa, various vocational courses like carpentry, culinary arts, travel and tourism, and others can be studied across several institutes in the USA.

This is a great option not only for skill enhancement but for personality development, communication building, and leadership qualities that help your personality grow.

Lastly, it should be noted that applying for an M1 visa does not guarantee that the visa will be granted.

To successfully get a hold of the M1 visa it is best to seek professional help from a SelectRight expert.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Can I work in the USA with an M1 student visa?

M1 student visas do not permit students to work full-time outside of campus. However, students can apply for on-campus part-time jobs. Further, some courses may permit students to work as part of practical training after the course is over.

  1. How long can you stay in USA with an M1 Visa?

The M1 visa USA grants a stay duration of one year.[c][d] The form I-20 issued by the university will be for a year. Students can apply for an extension, if they wish, under special circumstances.

  1. How do I get an M1 visa USA issued?

To get an M1 visa issued, you will have to be accepted by a US institute of higher education. A form I-20 issued by the institute is your first step to applying for an M1 visa.

  1. What is the difference between an M1 visa and an F1 visa?

The M1 visa is issued only for vocational studies in the USA, while the F1 visa is issued to international students who want to pursue a degree course such as a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

  1. Do we need IELTS/TOEFL for an M1 visa?

Yes, IELTS/ TOEFL are a primary requirement for an M1 visa in the USA.

  1. Can I bring my spouse without a visa during my vocational study?

Married students with an M1 visa can bring their spouse or children only if a separate form I-20 is issued by the vocational institute. With the form, the spouse or children can apply for an M2 visa, where the SEVIS fee will not be paid.