F/M/J Student Visas

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to study in the United States must have a student visa to study in the United States. Your course of study and the type of school you plan to attend determine whether you need an F-1 visa or an M-1 visa.

You need M-1 visa if you are planning to attend vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language training program.

The J-1 Visa is for individuals wishing to participate in certain specially approved exchange visitor programs.

You need F-1 visa if you are planning to attend university or college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, another academic institution, including a language training program/

If you are in the United States as the spouse or child of someone in the following nonimmigrant visa categories, you do not need to apply to change your status if you wish to attend school in the United States (as long as your parent or spouse maintains their original nonimmigrant status).

  • A - Diplomatic and other government officials, and their families and employees.
  • E - International Trade and Investors
  • G - Representatives to international organizations and their families and employees.
  • H - Temporary Workers
  • I - Representatives of foreign media and their families
  • J - Exchange Visitors and their families
  • L - Intracompany Transferees

Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate or Change Status to an F or M student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted by a SEVP approved school. When you are accepted by the U.S. school you plan to attend, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. The U.S. school will provide you with a Form I-20 to present to the consular officer or submit with your change of status application. If your spouse and/or children intend to reside with you in the United States while you study, they must obtain individual Form I-20s, but they do not pay the SEVIS fee.

Overstay. A nonimmigrant who has “D/S” (duration of status) is not considered overstay for purpose of the Section 222(g) unless the immigration services officer or immigration judge has made a determination that a status violation has occurred. Thus, where an immigration officer or immigration judge has made the determination, the D/S visa holder can no longer simply leave the country and re-enter with his I-20. He must return home and obtain new visa. However, if eligible an immigrant may apply for reinstatement.