A student wishing to attend a university or other academic institution in the United States requires an F-1 student visa; those wishing to attend a vocational or non-academic institution require an M-1 student visa. Holders of B-2 visitor visas and those who have entered the United States visa-free under the Visa Waiver Program are prohibited from entering into full-time study.
Academic (F-1) Visa
A student wishing to attend a university or other academic institution (including primary and secondary schools) or a language training program requires an F-1 visa.
For Study at Public Schools
Section 214(m) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), prohibits the issuance of F-1 visas to students who are going to the United States to attend public elementary schools (grades K through 8, approximately ages 5 to 14) or publicly-funded adult education programs such as foreign language classes.
Students applying for F-1 visas to attend public secondary schools (grades 9 through 12, approximately ages 14 to 18) are limited to a maximum of 12 months of public high school in F-1 status and must show proof that payment has been made for the full, unsubsidized cost of the education before a visa can be processed.
Students attending private elementary and secondary schools are not affected by this section of law.
Nonacademic (M-1) Visa
A student wishing to pursue a course of study which is not principally academic in nature at an established vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution such as a post secondary vocational or business school requires an M-1 visa. The most common example is flight training or pilot school, for which the student requires an M-1 visa.
It is possible in certain limited circumstances for the holder of an F-1 visa to obtain permission to work in the United States. Holders of M-1 visas may only engage in employment if it is a required part of their practical training and the employment has been approved in advance by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Entry & Length of Stay
The holder of a student F-1 or M-1 visa may enter the United States up to 30 days before the designated registration date on the Form I-20A-B or Form I-20M. The 30-day limitation does not apply to students returning to resume studies; they may enter the U.S. at any time. The holder of an F-1 visa may remain in the United States for up to 60 days following the completion of the course or practical training. Note: The duration of status of an F-1 student in a publicly-funded secondary school cannot exceed an aggregate of 12 months schooling.
The holder of an M-1 visa may remain in the United States for the period of time it will take to complete the course of study as indicated on the I-20M plus 30 days, or for one year, whichever is less.
If you wish to remain longer, you will be required to apply for an adjustment of status or an extension of stay from the office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services having jurisdiction over your place of residence in the United States.
Spouses, Children, & Partners
Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require derivative F-2 or M-2 visas. Spouses and/or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for B-2 visitor visas, or if qualified, travel visa-free under the Visa Waiver Program.
More information for unmarried partners and common-law spouses.
F-2/M-2 versus F-1
There is no requirement that the spouse and/or children of an F-1 or M-1 visa holder apply for an F-1 visa if they wish to study in the U.S.; they may study on an F-2 or M-2 visa. However, if they are qualified, they may apply for the F-1 visa. If you have school age children, you should refer to the regulations governing the issuance of F-1 visas.
Working on an F-2/M-2 visa
The holder of a derivative F-2 or M-2 visa may not work. If he or she is seeking employment, the appropriate work visa is required.
I believe I qualify for an F or M visa, what do I do next?
You are required to obtain from the school or academic institution the Form I-20A-B Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status - For Academic or Language Students, or the Form I-20M-N Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status. Schools and institutions which have received United States government appproval to enroll foreign students have the authority to issue these forms. The Form I-20 by itself is not sufficient for travel to the United States; it must also be accompanied by the appropriate visa.
Documents Required for F or M:
Original Form I-20 issued by the school in the U.S.
Proof of payment of the SEVIS fee
Proof of current or previous studies and/or employment in Slovenia
Proof of how you will pay for your studies in the U.S. (even if you have already submitted this evidence to the school in the U.S., you still need to bring your bank or other financial information to your visa interview)
Please note that we can give no assurances in advance regarding the issuance of visas. Therefore, please do not make final travel plans or purchase nonrefundable tickets until a visa has been issued.