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What Are F1, M1 Visas?

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Foreign nationals, including international students enrolled in the United States, must obtain a visa to enter the United States legally.


An international student can get either an F1 or M1 visa. Both are nonimmigrant visas that allow visa holders entry to the United States for purposes of study.


Whether you’re an individual interested in studying in the United States or an international recruitment agent helping students get into their dream school abroad, you need to know the difference between the two kinds of student visas.


In this article, we’ll discuss each type of U.S. visa for international students, what it’s for, and who is eligible to apply for it. We’ll also take a look into the required documents and the visa application process so you can be guided on your next steps.


students talking about m1 and f1 visa

What Is the F1 Visa?

An international student who is pursuing full-time academic studies in an accredited education institution must get an F1 student visa, or the Academic Student Visa. Those applying for this visa must already be enrolled in a study program or course that leads up to a certificate, diploma, or degree.


In addition, the institution they must be enrolled in must have government certification and authorization to accept international students.


An international student holding an F1 visa must maintain their full-time student status. To achieve this, they must have the minimum full-time course load in their course of study.


F1 visa holders can engage in part-time work subject to certain conditions.

What is the M1 Visa?

An international student who is enrolled in a vocational or non-academic program in the United States needs an M1 visa.


To study with an M1, or Vocational Student Visa, the student must be involved in a full course of study. This consists of 12 semesters in a community for junior college. Note that the school must charge full tuition for 12 semester or quarter hours. Alternatively, the school must consider 12 semester or quarter hours as a full-time course.


M1 visa holders are not permitted to work during the course of their study program.

Required Documents and Application Process for the F1 and M1 Visas

Applicants for F1 and M1 visas generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country. Below is a list of the required documents for the F1 and M1 visas:

  • A passport valid for six more months after completion of the study program
  • Duly completed Form DS-160 (for non-immigrant visa application)
  • Receipt of the application fee (for those required to pay before the interview)
  • Photo (uploaded on the online Form DS-160)
  • For F1 Visa:
    1. Form I-20 (issued by the education provider)
    2. Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status-For Academic and Language Students
  • For M1 Visa:
    1. Form I-20 (issued by the education provider)
    2. Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status for Vocational Students

Here is an overview of the application process for the F1, M1 visa:

  1. Acceptance at a school approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)
    • SEVP-approved school accepts enrollment
    • Visa applicant registers for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
    • Applicant pays the I-901 SEVIS Fee ($350)
    • Receive Form I-20 from the school
  2. Complete the online visa application
  3. Schedule an appointment for an interview in the home country’s U.S. Embassy or Consulate
  4. Prepare required documents listed above
  5. Attend the student visa interview and present the Form I-20 and other documents


Global institution partnerships between schools and education recruitment agents allow for a streamlined admissions process. Organizations like MSM provide solutions that make international recruitment fast and convenient for both students and institutions, making it easier to obtain an F1 or M1 visa.


Student recruitment agents assist students in preparing the required documentation for their school and visa applications. Moreover, they serve as guides during the visa application process.


Find out how MSM empowers student recruitment agents with the right tools so they can empower global learners too. Check out: https://msquaremedia.com/agent-workshops/


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MSM Reporter is collated by a globally spread team of MSM and is published every Thursday.

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