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The Difference Between an F-1 Visa and an M-1 Visa

August 5, 2022
  By Saman Movassaghi

The United States is home to some of the best universities in the world, along with incredible career opportunities. That’s why you’re interested in coming to the U.S. to study. Perhaps you’ll also be able to build your resume while you’re in school.

Before you apply to a program, you’ll need to know the requirements for getting a visa to study in the U.S. Here is some more information on the difference between an F-1 visa and an M-1 visa.

What’s an F-1 Visa?

An F-1 visa is a visa a student gets to be able to study at full-time degree or academic programs in the U.S. These include primary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities. It can also apply if a student is applying to an English language program. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in cooperation with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), must approve these programs.

You must be going to a program to obtain some type of diploma or degree. For instance, perhaps you are coming to the U.S. to go to a university and study engineering in the hopes that you’ll receive a bachelor’s degree after four years. If you have F-1 status, then you can work part-time and on campus for up to 20 hours per week. 

What’s an M-1 Visa? 

If you are coming to the U.S. to engage in a vocational study program, then you’d apply for an M-1 visa. Vocational studies are more career-oriented; they include programs in cooking, flying, tailoring, car repair, beauty, etc. Your goal is not to obtain a degree or diploma; instead, it’s to gain the skills needed to pursue a certain career. 

What’s the Difference Between an F-1 Visa and an M-1 Visa?

There are a few differences between an F-1 visa and an M-1 visa. The most apparent one is that F-1 visas are for academic study, while M-1 visas are for vocational study. You’ll need to decide which type of study you would like to engage in before applying for your visa.

You are allowed to work part-time on campus if you have an F-1 visa. But if you have an M-1 visa, you cannot work at all. If you’re on an M-1 visa, you will need to show that you have enough money to cover your tuition and living expenses during your stay in the United States.

The average amount of time foreign students receive an F-1 visa is for four years, but you could potentially extend under an Optional Practical Training program. This is a form of temporary employment, and you can receive up to 12 months of OPT either before or after you have completed your program. On the other hand, an M-1 visa is valid only for a year, though you could possibly apply for an extension for up to three years. Once you graduate from your vocational program, you are allowed to apply for an internship program. 

No matter what kind of program you’re pursuing, it’s best to get in touch with a Florida immigration attorney for assistance.

Contact a Florida Immigration Attorney

Do you have questions about getting an F-1 visa or M-1 visa to come to the U.S.? Then contact Florida Immigration Law Counsel through our website or by calling 1-800-666-4996. We deal with the government so you don’t have to. We look forward to helping you.

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