To enter the United States to study, you must determine which type of educational visa to apply for based on your academic goals. According to the U.S. Department of State, foreign citizens need one of two student visas. The visa depends on the school you plan to attend.
Applications for international students to study in the U.S. fall under two categories: M and F. Understanding the differences between the two helps you to decide where to study.
What is the M category student visa?
If you pursue a vocational education, such as learning to become a mechanic or a graphic designer, a student visa application falls under category M. Once you decide on a major or a course of study, however, you cannot change it.
You may need to apply for a nonimmigrant M-1 student visa when studying at a science lab or research institute. While this visa allows you to remain in the U.S. for one year, it does not permit you to find a job.
What is the F category student visa?
The second type of student visa application generally requires admission to a U.S. college, university or private high school. This visa is available to full-time students and falls under the F category.
As noted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, after receiving the F-1 nonimmigrant status, you may hold an on-campus job without an additional work visa. You may need to find an employer to sponsor you or provide proof that you may experience financial hardship without steady work.
The learning institution that accepts your enrollment must offer an approved Student and Exchange Visitor Program. After receiving an approval, you may not enter the U.S. before 30 days of a study course’s starting date.