On this page, you will find an overview of F visas for academic students and the M visas for vocational and nonacademic students. This U.S. non-immigrant visa overview contains statutory revisions brought by the IIRIRA and other recent regulatory changes. The foreign students discussed below are those whose full-time study provides the basis for their admission to, and maintenance of status within, the United States. F-1 and M-1 non-immigrant statuses are based on full-time attendance at USCIS-authorized schools and continued progress toward educational goals. F-1 visa students may engage in one year of practical training after every new program at a higher academic level. The provisions for practical training present the student with an opportunity to apply theory to the non-academic world as well gain experience.
It is very important for F and M visa students to maintain their lawful non-immigrant visa student status to pursue academic and practical training opportunities in the United States as well as work-related visas that might lead to lawful, permanent immigration and green card in the future.
With the tragic events of September 11, 2001, implementation of the USA Patriot and the Border Security Acts, DHS has mandated the implementation of new security measures to ensure that the Government keeps accurate records and tracks all foreign students and exchange visitors who enter the United States. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is an electronic program that monitors and verifies student admissions to the United States. The SEVP was established to act as the bridge for various governmental organizations that have a need to gather information on foreign students. SEVP uses the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a Web-based technology, to track and monitor schools and programs, students, exchange visitors and their dependents for the duration of their education.