M-1 Visa

(Non-academic & Vocational)

M-1 visas allow the holder to attend a recognized non-academic or vocational educational institution in the United States. The M visa is required, for example, to attend a flight school in the USA. If you are interested in continuing your education or training in the United States, we will be happy to assist you with your M-1 visa application!


Effects of the Corona Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic directly affects the M-1 and F-1 programs in the USA. The SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program), which manages all educational institutions, students and their families on behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has been closely monitoring in recent weeks and months how to ensure that all holders of an F-1 or M-1 visa can continue to study in the United States in accordance with the law. Changes were originally planned for the upcoming fall semester of 2020, but have now been overturned.


The U.S. authorities have issued an updated guide for the fall semester 2020. On July 6, 2020, a Temporary Final Rule was published by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) together with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), which regulates the issues for F-1 and M-1 visa holders for the fall semester 2020.

Due to the Corona crisis, F-1 and M-1 visa holders were exceptionally able to take their classes at U.S. educational institutions in the summer semester 2020 in the form of online courses. This should actually change in the fall semester. However, resistance from renowned U.S. universities, Silicon Valley and several U.S. states has had an effect, so that the status quo of March 2020 will probably be maintained.

The planned measures were aimed at F-1 and M-1 visa students who will be attending educational institutions that offer only online courses from the fall semester 2020 onwards. These F-1 and M-1 students

  1. would not have been able to get visas at the U.S. consulate,
  2. would have been denied entry at the United States border, and
  3. would have had to leave the USA or alternatively change to an educational institution that offers more than just online courses (otherwise there should be a threat of expulsion from the USA)

Note: The above mentioned regulations do not apply to F-1 students in English language training programs, nor to M-1 students who want to obtain a vocational degree, as these students are generally not allowed to enroll in an online-only course.

Our recommendation

F-1 or M-1 visa holders should always be in close communication with their US educational institution to ensure that they maintain their active SEVIS status or residency status and that their education or training in the US is secured. In this context, also clarify whether you need a new I-20 form.

In addition, pupils and students should document all possible changes to the programme (e.g. e-learning, changes to the course of lectures, etc.) so that they can be presented to the SEVP on request. The SEVP, for its part, continues to try to be as flexible as possible in order to be able to make special adaptations and recommends to follow official updates on the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) COVID-19 information page.

Currently, it is also extremely important that the respective M Nonimmigrant residence status remains valid, even in emergency situations. This means that all visa holders must take all necessary steps that are possible under the given circumstances to maintain their status. In addition, visa holders must contact their DSO (Designated School Official) to discuss, for example, contingency plans for the school grounds or changes. The Department of Homeland Security provides important information on maintaining status.

What are M-1 visas?

M-1 visas entitle the holder to stay in the USA as part of a non-academic study program, for example, when not studying at a college or university. If you are interested in continuing education or evening classes, you will need an M-1 visa.

Note: M-1 visas do not entitle the holder to participate in language courses. An F-1 visa could possibly be considered for this purpose.


Requirements for M-1 Visa

The application for an M-1 visa is subject to several conditions.

  1. SEVIS registration of the educational institutionSEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. SEVIS is an online database provided by the U.S. government that allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State to view the data of all M-1 visa holders who are in the United States.
  2. Issuance of the I-20 formThe SEVIS registration is required to issue the I-20 form, which must be presented at the U.S. consulate for M-1 visa applications. Please note that not all schools are authorized to issue the I-20 form. Therefore, it is necessary to inquire in advance whether the educational institution in question has a SEVIS registration. This can be found on the official website of the U.S. authorities.
  3. fundingAnother condition that must be met by the M-1 applicant is to secure the financing of education and living costs through own resources or through scholarships.
  4. Proof of intention to returnThe applicant must also prove that he / she has a permanent residence in his / her home country and, if necessary, provide further proof of intention to return.

If you are unsure whether you can apply for the M-1 visa, get an assessment from our visa experts. Contact us now!

Bild von einer M-1 Visa Inhaberin

Apply for M-1 Visa

  1. Timely applicationApplicants must usually apply in person for an interview at one of the responsible U.S. consulates. Applications for M-1 visas can be submitted a maximum of 120 days before the start of the training.
    Waiting times for an interview appointment at the consulate depend on the season and the consulate itself.
    In addition to the general application documents, documents relating to the educational institution, permanent residence in the home country and other evidence of the intention to return after the end of the programme should be submitted. In addition, proof of financial resources for the stay in the USA must be provided. The application is usually made at the U.S. consulate in the country where the applicant lives.

  2. Personal Interview AppointmentApplicants usually have to appear in person at an interview appointment at one of the responsible US consulates. This will include
    - personal data
    - details of the educational institution and
    - other evidence of the applicant's intention to return after the end of the programme
    - evidence of financial resources for the stay in the USA.

  3. Approval of the ApplicationApplicants of M-1 visas are usually informed on the day of the interview whether the visa is approved. Once approved, the passport with the M-1 visa is usually delivered to the applicant after three to ten days;

If you have any further questions regarding the M-1 visa application, please contact us - we will be happy to advise you individually!

Contact us now

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How long are M-1 visas valid?

The M-1 visa is usually issued for one year. The local residence status in the USA depends on the duration of the further education or training as noted in the I-20 form. If the training is longer than the duration of the course, an extension of up to 12 months can be applied for at the respective educational institution. It is also possible to enter the United States on the M-1 visa 30 days before the start of the training and to remain in the United States for a maximum of 30 days after completion of the training.

M-Visa for family members

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age may be issued a derived M-2 visa for the same period as the principal applicant. If the children reach the U.S. age of majority, they must change their non-immigrant status or leave the country. Family members are not permitted to work. Applying for a general work permit (Employment Authorization Document, EAD) is therefore not possible under the M-2 status. However, M-2 visa holders may attend a public/private educational institution (kindergarten to high school).
If a higher educational institution (e.g. university) is to be attended, a separate F-1 visa must be applied for.

Our services for M-1 Visa

  • Individual examination of your requirements
  • Location-independent support
  • Support in compiling all necessary documents
  • Review and correction of your documents
  • Finding an appointment and preparation for the interview at the US Consulate
  • Preparing your entry with the M-1 visa


Frequently asked questions about the M-1 visa for the United States

Can one study at a college or university with an M-1 visa?

No. M-1 visas only entitle the holder to attend a non-academic educational institution. Study programs such as in-service training or evening classes are considered non-academic programs.

Can I renew my M-1 Visa?

Yes an extension or new application for the M-1 visa is possible. If the training takes longer than expected, an extension of up to 12 months can be applied for at the respective educational institution.

How do I get an I-20 form?

The I-20 form is issued by the respective educational institution provided that the U.S. educational institution is SEVIS registered. You can find out whether this is the case by using the school search tool of the U.S. authorities.
Please note: The I-20 is not an application form that you can download from the Internet.