F-1 visas are for students who will be enrolled in academic courses or language courses. M-1 visas are for students who will be enrolled in non-academic courses or in vocational courses. There are differences in how academic-based programs get accredited versus how non-academic or vocational programs get accredited. For both visa types, students must enroll in full-time study (defined as 18 or more hours per week).
The type of visa you should choose depends mainly on which kind of study you are planning to do. There are other differences between the visas as well depending on how long you are planning to study and whether or not you will need to do any training to complete your program.
-granted for the duration of the program
-can only work on campus (may enroll in a special program to perform practical training after the first year of study)
-granted for only 1 year but may be extended
-allows you to engage in practical training or temporary employment that is necessary for the program you completed, but you may only do so AFTER completing the program
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