M-1 Vocational Foreign Students

This is the nonacademic or vocational student category. A preliminary requirement for this category is that successful completion of the course of study must lead to the attainment of a specific educational or vocational objective. The ''full course of study'' requirement for nonacademic students will be satisfied in the following situations:

  • Study at a community college or junior college certified by a school official to consist of at least 12 semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term, except where the student needs a lesser course load to complete the course of study during the current term.
  • Study for at least 12 hours weekly or its equivalent in a postsecondary vocational or other business school, but not in a language training program except one in the English language at the school where he or she will engage in a vocational or technical course, which confers associate or other degrees or whose credits are accepted unconditionally by at least three institutions of higher learning.
  • Study in a vocational or other nonacademic curriculum, but not in a language training program except one in the English language at the school where he or she will engage in the vocational or technical training, certified by a designated school official to consist of 18 hours of classroom attendance a week if the dominant part of the course of study consists of classroom instruction, or at least 22 hours a week if the dominant part of the course of instruction consists of shop or laboratory work.
  • Study in a vocational or other nonacademic high school curriculum, for not less than the minimum hours prescribed by the school for normal progress towards graduation.

The foreign student must first contact the school that they wish to attend. The Designated School Official (DSO) at the school will determine whether the student meets the eligibility requirements for attendance. Once the DSO is satisfied, the school issues a Certificate of Eligibility on form I-20M.

Once the I-20M has been issued, the foreign student may then apply for the visa at the consulate. It is possible to apply for a change of status from another nonimmigrant classification to the M-1 classification, but a recent INS rule has limited the ability of foreign students to change their status in the United States. As of April 12, 2002, in order to be eligible to change status, the foreign student must notify the Immigration Inspector upon admission that they intend to pursue a course of study in the United States and to change to M-1 status upon finding a suitable school. The Immigration Inspector is then required to note “Prospective Student” on the foreign student’s I-94 form.

Foreign students seeking M-1 status must establish the following to the satisfaction of the consular officer:

  • That they have been accepted by an approved school in the United States, evidenced by the certificate of eligibility (Form I-20M-N), signed by the student;
  • Possesses sufficient funds or have made other arrangements to cover expenses; and
  • Have sufficient scholastic preparation and knowledge of the English language to pursue a full course of study, or if the student's knowledge of English is inadequate, the approved school has accepted him or her for study in a language with which the student is familiar, or has made special tutoring arrangements that are adequate to enable the student to pursue a full course of study.

Nonacademic students (M-1) are admitted for one year or for the period necessary to complete their course of study plus 30 days thereafter to depart, whichever is less. Their spouses and children are eligible to accompany them in M-2 status and are admitted for the same period as the M-1 student.

M-1 students may obtain permission for practical training to begin only after completion of the course of study. The application for such permission must be submitted before the expiration of the student's authorized period of stay and not more than 60 days before or more than 30 days after completion of the course of study. M-1 students seeking approval for practical training must submit Form I-765 and a I-20 ID endorsed for training by the DSO. A personal appearance by the student is also required.

Spouses and children of M-1 nonimmigrants are admitted in M-2 status. They may not accept employment without an independent nonimmigrant classification permitting employment or another independent basis for employment authorization.