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F-1 and M-1 Visas

Student Visas (F-1, M-1)

If you want to study in the United States, the first step is to find a school that offers the kind of program you need, apply for admission, and be accepted. You can find more information about studying in the United States at the State Department's EducationUSA website, and almost all U.S. universities and colleges also maintain their own websites where you can find information on your own.

There are two types of student visas: F-1 visas are for students in an academic program, and M-1 visas are for students in a non-academic program, such as vocational training. Your school in the United States will let you know whether you need an F-1 or M-1 visa. The application procedures are the same for both.

Requirements for Getting a Student Visa

To qualify for a student visa, applicants have to demonstrate that they:

  • Are entering the United States for a temporary period only for the purpose of pursuing a full course of study at a recognized institution of learning.
  • Are a bona-fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study.
  • Have a residence outside the United States to which they intend to return following their studies.
  • Have sufficient resources available to provide for the total cost of their education.
  • Have sufficient command of the English language or will enroll in English language courses in the United States.

In addition, your school must report to the Department of State that you have been accepted to study there by entering your data into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). For more information about SEVIS, please see the Department of Homeland Security SEVIS Information Page.

Required Documents

  • Your DS-160 confirmation page with barcode
  • A photo
  • Your passport
  • A receipt from CITIC Bank for the application fee
  • An I-20 (for F applicants) or I-20M (for M applicants) Certificate of Eligibility correctly completed and signed by both the proper school administrator and the applicant.  The name on the form must exactly match the name in your passport and the name entered in the SEVIS system by the U.S. academic institution
  • Your printed SEVIS fee receipt, which is created at the time you pay your SEVIS fee online

Recommended Supplemental Documents

To qualify for a student visa, applicants have to demonstrate that they have financial resources sufficient for their studies. For F-1 applicants, this means you or your sponsors have sufficient funds immediately available to meet all expenses of the first year of study, as well as a sufficient income to provide funds for subsequent years of study. M-1 applicants must prove they have sufficient funds immediately available to cover the entire course of study.

There are no fixed rules for what kind of financial documents you need—you can submit anything that you think will help show that you have enough funds for your studies. Some examples include:

  • Scholarships: Evidence from the school or organization providing the scholarship of any scholarship funds you are to receive and any limitations or obligations related to those funds
  • Bank Documents: Passbooks or statements showing your current assets and recent transactions for at least the past several months
  • Evidence of Family Income: Letters or other documents from your parents’ employers showing their salary levels and any other income they receive
  • Evidence of Property Ownership: Original housing documents

Recommended Supplemental Documents for Science and Technology Students

Applicants who hope to pursue a course of study in the United States related to science or technology should also bring the following additional documents with them to the interview:

  • A résumé or CV
  • A research plan
  • A complete list of publications, if applicable
  • Your advising professor's biography, CV, or webpage, if already assigned
  • A letter of acceptance from the school, preferably from the department where you will study

NOTE: The above items should not be considered an exhaustive list and presentation of these documents does not guarantee visa issuance.  Be prepared to explain to the visa officer and present evidence regarding why you are going to the United States and why you will return to China.

Visas for Spouses and Children of Students

Spouses and children of F-1 or M-1 student visa holders may apply for derivative (F-2 or M-2) visas. Parents and other family members are NOT eligible for F-2/M-2 visas. They may visit a student for a temporary period if they apply for and receive a tourist B-2 visa.