Non-citizen students who are seeking a technical or vocational education, and schools that offer this type of education, have a visa option they may utilize which is not available to most other students. The M-1 visa is designed specifically for foreign-born students hoping to obtain this type of education in the United States.
Requirements for the M-1 Visa
In order to have an M-1 visa approved the student must be going to school full time (unless they only have a few classes remaining to complete their studies). This means that you need to be enrolled into either a vocational or technical college (oftentimes community colleges and junior colleges), and be taking a minimum of 12 hours of courses. The student must be enrolled in a qualifying school, which means that the school has to be able to show that the credits that they offer are able to be transferred to other higher education institutions (a minimum of three examples must be provided).
If the school cannot show this, the school needs to be certified and require a minimum of 18 hours of class work, or 22 hours of total work (including lab or shop time). The requirements for this type of visa are quite specific, which is why most schools that want to begin using this type of visa to boost enrollment will want to have an immigration attorney review their status before moving forward.
No Non-Training Work is Permitted
Unlike some other types of student visas, those who come to the US on the M-1 are not permitted to work unless it is work associated with the vocational education. For example, those who are taking auto mechanic vocational classes can work in an auto shop to gain hands on experience.
Length of Stay with an M-1 Visa
The M-1 visa allows students to stay in the United States for the entire time that they are attending classes in a vocational class, plus thirty days after the class is completed, OR one full year, whichever is shorter. In the event that they need additional time to continue the training an extension application can be filled out. With the extensions, students can remain in the US for up to an additional six months total.
If you are a vocational or technical school hoping to recruit students from outside the country, or a foreign-born student seeking such an education in the United States, contact the immigration attorneys at FordMurray Law today and let us guide you every step of the way to ensure legal compliance.