Visas de estudiantes
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons wishing to study in the United States. La “F” visa is reserved for nonimmigrants wishing to pursue academic studies and/or language training programs, and the “M” visa is reserved for nonimmigrants wishing to pursue nonacademic or vocational studies.
F-Academic Students and M-Vocational Students Requirements
Foreign students seeking to study in the U.S. may enter in the F-1 or M-1 category provided they meet the following criteria:
The student must be enrolled in an “académico” programa de educación, un programa de formación lingüística, or a vocational program;
The school must be approved by U.S. Ciudadanía y Servicios de Inmigración (USCIS);
The student must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution;
The student must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency;
The student must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study; y
The student must maintain a residence abroad which he/she has no intention of giving up.
Click to find out more specific information about becoming an academic student in the United States.
Click to find out more specific information about studying the English language in the United States.
Click to find out more specific information about becoming a vocational student in the United States.
Information on How to Apply for the Student Visa, Visa suspensión / Renuncia, Student Employment can be obtained via Visa Services at Department of State Website.
Also see Sec. 641 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-208). Sección 641 of IIRIRA is one of the catalysts behind a new interagency initiative known as the Student Exchange and Visitors Program, or SEVP program. SEVP is designed to improve processes for foreign students and exchange visitors holding F, J, and M visas, and schools, colleges and other organizations sponsoring programs for these visa holders.
SEVP will facilitate and automate several processes affecting foreign students, such as:
Expedición de visados
admissions to the U.S.;
las solicitudes de beneficios; y
información de los informes.
Please visit the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, or SEVP website at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for more information.
1. What are the nonimmigrant categories for students?
This chart gives an overview of the types of nonimmigrant students.
|Type of School||Apply To|
|J-1||Escuela Secundaria (Escuela secundaria)
Limited to one semester or one academic year
|Programa de Visitante de Intercambio (DOS designado patrocinador)|
|J-1||Colegio / Universidad
Time limits vary with program
|Programa de Visitante de Intercambio (DOS designado patrocinador)|
|F-1||La Escuela Secundaria Pública
Limited to 12 mes
|SEVP certificado por la escuela|
|F-1||K-12 Escuelas Privadas||SEVP certificado por la escuela|
|F-1||Académico (post secundaria)
To include colleges, universidades, colegios de la comunidad, seminarios, finas conservatorios de artes escénicas, etc.
|SEVP certificado por la escuela|
|F-1||Inglés Escuela de idiomas||SEVP certificado por la escuela|
|M-1||Vocational or Technical School||SEVP certificado por la escuela|
Nonimmigrants who wish to study in the United States should not enter the country as B-2 tourist, but as an F, M, or J student.
Nonimmigrants who wish to enter the United States to visit schools or take entrance examinations as prospective students may enter on a B-2 visa, but should inform the CBP officer at the POE of their intent. The CBP officer will add the notation Futuro Estudiante to the Form I-94. Más tarde, the nonimmigrant may apply for a change of status with USCIS, if he or she is accepted by a SEVP-certified school or a DOS designated sponsor school. Nonimmigrants changing status from a B-2 to an F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant student cannot start school until the change of status is approved.
Useful information for Schools
Obtaining Approval to Receive Nonimmigrant Students
Petition for Approval, Formulario I-17, must be filed with the district office with jurisdiction for the the locality where the school is located. There are two types of foreign students, F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrants. A school may be approved for F and/or M students, as described below. Sin embargo, an individual student’s classification depends on his/her principal educational goals.
F-1: Approval for attendance of academic students may be solicited by an accredited college or university that awards bachelors, maestros, doctorate or professional degrees; an accredited community or junior college that provides instruction in the liberal arts or the professions and awards associate degrees; un seminario; un conservatorio; an academic high school; una escuela primaria privada; 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.
M-1: Approval for the attendance of non-academic students may be solicited by a community college or junior college that provides vocational or technical training and awards associate degrees; una escuela secundaria vocacional; a trade school or a school of nonacademic training other than language training.
Current USCIS regulations recognize the following as approved schools:
- A school operated as a public educational institution by federal, estado, or local government; y
- A school accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency.
If an institution of higher education does not fall into one of these two categories, it must submit evidence that its course credits are accepted by at least three accredited schools.
If a private elementary or public or private secondary school does not fallinto one of these two categories, it must submit evidence that it satisfies the compulsory attendance requirements of the state in which it is located and that it qualifies graduates for acceptance by approved schools at a higher educational level, and in the case of a private elementary or secondary school, that it is accredited by an accrediting organization, certified by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Non-Public Education.
Proceso de aprobación
Petition for approval (Formulario I-17) is filed in duplicate with the district director in the school’s locality. The following requirements must also be met:
The Form I-17 must be signed by an officer of the institution who has authority to sign contracts.
The petitioning school must submit certification indicating that it is licensed, aprobada, and/or accredited.
Where to apply?
All applications submitted by schools and institutions wishing to accept nonimmigrant students, should be mailed to the “Attention of the USCIS Schools Officer” at the USCIS District Office having jurisdiction over the geographic area in which the institution is located.
How Do I Become A Vocational Student In The United States?
Who is Allowed to Study in the United States?
A nonimmigrant is someone who temporarily comes to the United States for a specific purpose. People who wish to pursue full-time academic or vocational studies are usually admitted to the United States in one of two nonimmigrant categories. The M-1 category includes students in vocational or other nonacademic programs, other than language training. The F-1 category includes academic students and students in language training programs. For more information on academic studies in the United States, please see How Do I Get Become an Academic Student in the United States?. If you are planning to study in the United States as an exchange visitor, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Department of State Websites, as well as the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] at 8 CFR 214.2, 212.7 y 22 CFR 514.
¿Qué dice la Ley?
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) governs the admission of all people to the United States. For the part of this law concerning temporary admissions to the United States, consulte INA § 214. The specific eligibility requirements and procedures for applying for vocational student status are included in the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] at 8 CFR § 214.2(m).
How Do I Apply if I am Outside of the United States?
You first must apply to study at a USCIS-approved school in the United States. When you contact a school that you are interested in attending, you should be told immediately if the school accepts foreign national students. If you are accepted, the school should send you USCIS Form I-20 M-N/ID (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Estudiante Estado – For Vocational Students). If you require a visa, then you should take the USCIS Form I-20 to the nearest U.S. consulate to obtain a student visa. Only bring the USCIS Form I-20 from the school you plan on attending for visa processing at the U.S. consulado. You must also prove to the consulate that you have the financial resources required for your education and stay in the United States. Please see the State Department Website for more information on visa processing.
When you arrive in the United States, you should receive a Form I-94 (Registro de Llegada-Salida) that will include your admission number to the United States. An Immigration inspector will write this admission number on your Form I-20 M-N/ID. The Inspector will then take pages one and two of this form, known as I-20 M-N. The USCIS will receive the first page (I-20Msecond página) and your school will receive the second page (I-20 N) as a record of your legal admission to the United States. You are expected to keep pages three and four, known as the I-20 ID. This document is your proof that you are allowed to study at the indicated institution in the United States. You should see a school representative if you need a replacement copy of your I-20 ID. You should also keep safe your Form I-94, because it proves that you legally entered the United States. If you need a replacement copy of your Form I-94, please see How Do I Get an Arrival-Departure Record?.
How Can I Change My Nonimmigrant Status to Become a Student if I Am Already in the United States?
You first must apply to study at a USCIS-approved school in the United States. When you contact a school that you are interested in attending, you should be told immediately if the school accepts foreign national students. If you are accepted, the school should send you USCIS Form I-20 M-N/ID (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Estudiante Estado – For Vocational Students). You must submit this form, your I-94 (Registro de Llegada-Salida), and a completed USCIS Form I-539 (Solicitud para Extender / Cambiar el estatus de no inmigrante) to the USCIS. You must also prove that you have the financial resources required for your education and stay in the United States. For more information, please see How Do I Get Permission to Change to a New Nonimmigrant Status?
How Do I Apply for Permission to Transfer Schools?
You must file USCIS Form I-539 (Solicitud para Extender / Cambiar el estatus de no inmigrante) with the USCIS. You should also submit your current USCIS Form I-20 ID (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Estudiante Estado – For Vocational Students), a complete USCIS Form I-20 M-N/ID from your new school, and the Form I-94 (Llegada-Salida Documentos) of your spouse and children. You may transfer sixty days after filing this application. Sin embargo, if your application is denied after you transfer, you will be considered to be out of status. This means you may be required to leave the country.
Tenga en cuenta: To be eligible to transfer to another school, you must currently be a full-time student, and you must intend to be a full-time student at the new school. You must also prove that you have the financial resources required for your education and stay in the United States. Además, you may only transfer to another school within the first six months from the date you were admitted to the United States to begin your studies or from the date you changed your nonimmigrant status to become an M-1 student. You are not allowed to change your educational objective.
Can I Bring My Spouse and Children with Me to the United States?
Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may come with you to the United States in M-2 nonimmigrant status. They should go with you to the U.S. embassy or consulate when you apply for your student (M-1) mostrar. They should be prepared to prove their relationship to you. If your spouse or children are following to join you at a later date, they should provide the U.S. embassy staff with a copy of your USCIS Form I-20 ID and proof of their relationship to you. The M-2 status of your family will be dependent upon your status as the M-1 vocational student. This means that if you change your status, your family must change their status as well. If you lose your status, your family will also lose their status. (For more information on changing status, please see How Do I Get Permission to Change to a New Nonimmigrant Status?
How Long Can I Stay in the United States?
You are allowed to stay in the United States for one year or for as long as you are enrolled as a full-time student in a vocational program (plus thirty days to prepare to leave the country), whichever is shorter. You should be allowed to stay in the United States 30 days beyond the departure date on your Form I-94 (Registro de Llegada-Salida) and USCIS Form I-20 ID (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Estudiante Estado – For Vocational Students), as long as your stay does not exceed one year.
You may also apply to stay in the country after the completion of your studies to pursue practical training. If approved, you will be allowed to have one month of practical training for every four months of study you completed. You will be limited to six months
tiempo total de formación práctica. Your designated school official (DSO) is able to assist you in the application process.
How Can I Extend My Stay as a Student in the United States?
You should apply to extend your stay in the United States if your studies will take longer than the date listed on your I-20 ID or your vocational program lasts longer than a year. You should complete USCIS Form I-539 (Solicitud para Extender / Cambiar el estatus de no inmigrante) and send it to USCIS at least 15 (but not more than 60) days before your authorized stay in the country expires. You should also submit your USCIS Form I-20 ID to the USCIS at the same time. For more information, please see How Do I Extend My Stay in the United States?.
Will I Be Able to Work?
You and your spouse and children may not accept employment. Sin embargo, you may apply for practical training after you complete your studies. If approved, you will be allowed to have one month of practical training for every four months of study you have completed. You will be limited to six months total practical training time.
You must also submit USCIS Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), and your I-20 ID, signed by the designated school official (DSO). You should send your application to USCIS no more than 60 days before your student status expires and no later than 30 days after your studies are completed. For more information, please see the rules about practical training at 8 CFR § 214.2(m). You may also wish to discuss practical training with the appropriate officials at your school.
Can I Travel Outside of the United States?
Students may leave the United States and be readmitted after temporary absences. When making your travel plans, please remember that you must be a full-time student to keep your M-1 student status. Upon your return to the United States, you should provide immigration inspectors with:
- Un pasaporte válido.
- A valid M-1 entry visa stamped in the passport (if necessary).
- A current USCIS Form I-20 ID signed by your designated school official (you should have the designated school official sign your USCIS Form I-20 each time you wish to temporarily travel outside the United States).
- A new USCIS Form I-20 M-N/ID if there have been any substantive changes in your course of study or place of study.
- Proof of your financial support.
How Can I Get USCIS Forms?
Your should be able to pick up immigration-related forms from your designated school official (DSO). Only your designated school official (DSO) can give you a USCIS Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Estudiante Estado – for Vocational Students). If you need other immigration forms, you may download them from the Immigration Forms tab at the top of this page, llamada 1-800-870-3676, or submit a request through our forms by mail system.
Can Anyone Help Me?
Your school will have a designated school official (DSO) to help you with immigration issues. Please note that you (the M-1 student) are solely responsible for following U.S. las leyes de inmigración.
How do I get a replacement Form I-20?
Un. For a replacement Form I-20, as well as issues relating to extension of stay, changes in educational programs, and employment you should first contact your Designated School Official at your educational institution (usually the foreign student advisor). Ver “How Do I Become an Academic Student in the United States?” para más información.