The M1 visa is assigned to international students who attend programs that are vocational but non-academic. North Lake College is a recognized academic institution, but it also offers non-academic programs which accept M1 visa students. Most M1 students will earn a NLC "certificate" instead of a degree.
M1 students are eligible for the programs on this page that result in certificates, but not the programs that result in awards. In addition, the certificate program must be full-time and at least 4 to 6 months long.
Courses completed in a certificate program are not transferrable to a four-year college/university for bachelor’s degrees.
Applying for M1 Status (please read carefully)
After you are accepted to North Lake College, we will issue your Form I-20. The I-20 is required for obtaining an M1 visa. The Form I-20 can be issued for either M1 or F1.
To finish the M1 visa application process, follow these step-by-step instructions. Please note that USCIS usually denies requests to change from F1 to M1 status, or from M1 to F1. In addition, as of 2014 the NLC International Center no longer processes change of status applications.
When you arrive at North Lake College, you must report immediately to the International Center to attend our mandatory international orientation, register for classes, and find housing.
The M1 student visa has many restrictions, more so than for F1s, and obtaining the M1 visa is highly discouraged. Many M1 change of status applications and/or M1 visa applications overseas are denied.
If you want to pursue a certificate we suggest that you apply for and pursue an associate degree while pursuing a certificate at the same time. That way you could be on an F1 visa and still get a certificate. Just be aware that you cannot continue your certificate program once you complete the associate degree.
Regulations for M1 Students
M1 status visa regulations are similar to the F1 rules except
for these differences:
- The full-time class enrollment requirement is defined as at least 18 clock hours (not credit hours) of instruction every week.
- When you complete your course of study, or post-studies optional practical training, the grace period during which you must apply for a new visa or leave the United States is 30 days.
- You cannot take any online or distance education courses.
- If you need to take medical leave, or reduce your course load due to medical problems, contact the International Center. Medical leave is highly restrictive.
- Extensions can only be allowed up to a maximum of 3 years from the original start date. All extensions require an application directly to USCIS for approval.
- M1 students cannot transfer to another U.S. institution after being at NLC for 6 months or longer, unless they change to another visa status.
- Any transfer request to another U.S. school in M1 status before the 6-month deadline requires an application to USCIS. You must file the application before attending the new school, but can begin taking classes at the new school while waiting for your USCIS application to be approved.
- M1 students cannot change educational objectives or majors.
- M1s cannot work in any internships or jobs, on campus or elsewhere, until after completion of studies. Even after completing studies, you need USCIS approval to work.
- M1 practical training after studies is limited to 6 months and is based on duration of studies (4 months in study = 1 month of practical training after studies).
If you have additional concerns or questions about M1 status, please contact the International Center to make appointment.