M-1 Visa FAQs


Q: How can I find out which school or institute in the U.S. accepts M visa?

M visas are issued to foreign students who wish to come to study in the U.S. on a full-time basis in vocational institutions and any other nonacademic schools, other than language schools. USCIS designates which schools can accept foreign students. An applicant may contact any school in the U.S. to determine whether it is able to accept foreign students for vocational or nonacademic studies. If the school does accept foreign national students, and the applicant is accepted, the school will issue the Form I-20 M-N/ID (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status - For Vocational Students) to you. The M-1 applicant may then take the Form I-20 M-N/ID to your closest U.S. embassy or consulate and apply for a M-1 student visa for entry into the U.S.

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Q: Can I stay in the United States if my student visa has expired?

You are allowed to stay in the United States 30 days beyond the departure date on your Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) and USCIS Form I-20 ID (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status - For Vocational Students). An applicant should apply to extend M-1 stay in the U.S. if his or her studies will take longer than the date listed on your I-20 ID or the vocational program lasts longer than a year. You may file for extension of stay in the U.S. by completing the Form I-539 and filing it with the

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Q: What is automatic visa revalidation?

Department of State (DOS) regulations permit certain non-immigrants to re-enter the United States after a 30-day or less visit to Canada or Mexico without having to obtain a new visa prior to re-entry. This is called automatic visa revalidation. Individuals seeking to benefit from this provision must retain their I-94 when leaving the U.S. as it is essential for re-entry. In addition, all other travel documents relevant to the particular status (passport, I-20 for F-1s and M-1s, DS-2019 for J-1s, I-797 for H-1Bs etc.) must be carried and properly endorsed, if an endorsement is required (on form DS-2019). However, certain individuals may not benefit from this provision. First, citizens of “state sponsors of terrorism” as designated by the DOS will not be eligible for automatic revalidation. They will need to have a valid visa in their passport in order to re-enter. In addition, anyone who is visiting Canada or Mexico in order to apply for a new visa may no longer benefit from automatic revalidation. Many individuals schedule an appointment with a U.S. consulate in Canada or Mexico in order to obtain a new visa so as to facilitate future travel overseas. In the past, they could re-enter the U.S. with a valid I-94 even if the visa were denied. Now, those who choose to apply for a new visa in Canada or Mexico and are denied the visa may not return to the U.S. They would have to travel to their home country and apply for a visa there. The risk of denial is higher for those who must prove their ties to their home country in order to get a visa (such as those in F or J status) than it is for those who do not have to prove ties (such as those in H status), but there is always a risk of denial for any visa applicant. Those considering applying for a visa in Canada or Mexico should take this into account when making their plans.

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Q: Can I renew my visa while outside the United States in a country other than my home country?

Generally, applying for a visa to come to the U.S. in a country that is not your home country ("third country") can be more difficult than applying from your home country. You would still have to demonstrate that you have continuously maintained lawful legal status throughout your stay in the U.S. And you still have to meet all the visa requirements whether you are applying in your home country or in the third country. The difference is, if you are denied a visa in the third country, you will have to return to your home country directly to apply for the visa there again, and you may not return to the U.S. until you have done so.

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Q: Can I change schools once I am in the U.S.?

To be eligible to transfer to another school, you must currently be a full-time student, and you must intend to be a full-time student at the new school. You must also prove that you have the financial resources required for your education and stay in the U.S. In addition, you may only transfer to another school within the first six (6) months from the date you were admitted to the U.S. to begin your studies or from the date you changed your nonimmigrant status to become an M-1 student. You are not allowed to change your educational objective though.

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