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Students (F, M)

Student Visas (F or M)

There are two non-immigrant visa categories for persons who want to study in the U. S. The F visa is for non-immigrants wishing to pursue academic studies and/or language training programs, and the M visa is for non-immigrants wishing to pursue nonacademic or vocational studies.

F Visas

Academic students planning to attend an accredited college or university that awards bachelors, masters, doctorate or professional degrees; an accredited community or junior college that provides instruction in the liberal arts and awards associate degrees; a seminary; a conservatory; an academic high school; a private elementary school; or an institution that provides language training, instruction in the liberal arts, the fine arts or the professions, or instruction in one or more of these disciplines.

  • Students who plan to live in the U.S. to attend school are eligible for an F-1 visa.
  • Students who plan to live in Mexico and cross the border to attend school are eligible for an F-3 visa.

M Visas

Vocational students wishing to pursue non-academic or vocational studies in a community college or junior college that provides vocational or technical training and awards associate degrees; a vocational high school; a trade school or a school of nonacademic training other than language training.

Requirements

To obtain a student visa, you must have:

  • Form I-20 completed by the school showing that you plan to pursue a full course of study.
  • Sufficient knowledge of the English language to pursue the intended study. If you are not proficient in the English language, you must show evidence that the school is aware of this and will provide language training.
  • Sufficient funds for the first year, and access to sufficient funds to cover subsequent years, as evidenced by bank statements or other financial documents. Students may receive permission to work on-campus or off-campus (after the completion of your first year of study) under limited circumstances. Please see information regarding student employment. Employment opportunities can be discussed with the designated school official (DSO) at your school. Accompanying spouse and child may not accept employment. 
  • Strong economic and social ties to your country of origin indicating your intention to leave the United States upon completion of studies.

Timing

Students are encouraged to apply for their student visa with ample time for visa processing. Students applying for initial-entry F-1, F-2, and M-1 and M-2 visas may be issued those visas up to 120 days before their academic program start date as listed on the I-20.

Continuing students may apply for new F or M visas at any time, as long as they have maintained their student status and their Student and Exchange Visitor Information (SEVIS) records are current.

Students cannot use their visas to enter the US for the first time until thirty (30) days before their program start. Please consider the program start date carefully when making travel plans to the United States.

Holders of F visas can stay up to 60 days after their program terminates. M visa holders have 30 days after the program terminates.

Additional Information

For more information about student program regulations, including details about dependents, restrictions on attending public schools, extension of stay, etc., visit the 'Student Visas' section of Travel.State.Gov.

For more information about educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate study, opportunities for scholars, financial aid, testing, admissions, and much more, visit: 

For more information about the Consulate's visa application process, please see Visa Application Steps.