If you wish to attend a university or other academic institution in the United States, including primary and secondary school, or a language training program, you will require an F-1 visa. Please note that F-1 visas cannot be issued to attend a public elementary school (grades K through 8, approximately ages 5 to 14) or publicly funded adult education program such as foreign language classes.
While an F-1 can be issued to attend public secondary school (grades 9 through 12, approximately ages 14 to 18), students are limited to a maximum of 12 months of high school in F-1 status and must show proof that payment has been made for the full, un-subsidized cost of the education at the time they apply for the visa. Private elementary or secondary schools are not affected by this ruling and provided the school issues you with the form I-20, you may apply for an F-1 visa.
If you wish to pursue a course of study which is not principally academic in nature at an established vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution such as a post secondary vocational or business school, you will require an M-1 visa.
B-2 for a short course of study
You may apply for a B-2 visa if:
- your primary purpose of travel is tourism and during your visit you will engage in a short course of study for less than 18 hours a week; or
- the program is recreational or vocational in nature.
Please note that if you are traveling to the United States to attend seminars or conferences for credit towards a degree, you are not eligible for B-2 visa. This includes students engaged in an on-line course of study traveling to the United States to spend a period of time at the institution’s U.S. campus.
You will require an F-1 or M-1 visa if:
- you will study for more than 18 hours a week; or
- you will receive academic credit for the program of study or the program of study is required for your degree; or
- you are enrolled in an online degree program and you are required to travel to the United States for a short course of study which is more than 18 hours a week.