The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has two nonimmigrant classifications to permit eligible foreign nationals from Mexico to enter the United States as full-time students – F-1 visas and M-1 visas.
Keep reading to find out how to get a US student visa from Mexico.
How to Get a Student Visa from Mexico to US – The Basics
The F-1 and M-1 visas are excellent options for prospective international students from Mexico. Both classifications have similar eligibility criteria, which are:
- The applicant must be enrolled in a US educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program
- The applicant’s chosen school must have approval from the Student and Exchange Visitors Program (Immigration & Customs Enforcement)
- The applicant must be enrolled as a full-time student at the chosen institution
- The applicant must be proficient in English or be enrolled in English proficiency courses
- The applicant must demonstrate to have sufficient funds for self-support during the entire course of study
- The applicant must maintain his or her main residence outside of the United States and demonstrate no immigrant intent
Student Visa from Mexico to US – F-1 Visas vs. M-1 Visas
The ideal student visa option varies according to each applicant’s purpose, educational background, skills, and financial resources.
The F-1 visa is best suited for academic students. Under F-1 status, international students can enter the United States to enroll at an accredited academic institution language training program as full-time students.
When studying in the United States under F-1 classification, international students must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate.
Only educational entities and programs authorized by the US government to accept international students are allowed to participate in the F-1 program. Prospective students from Mexico have several options of valid F-1 institutions, such as:
- Academic high schools
- Elementary schools
On the other hand, the M-1 visa is best suited for students in vocational or nonacademic programs, other than language training.
For example, eligible M-1 students from Mexico may enter the United States to participate in vocational studies such as technical courses, mechanical classes, cooking classes, flight school, and cosmetology.
Are Student Visa Holders from Mexico Eligible for US Employment? – A Realistic Overview
Student visas have strict limitations on employment. During the first academic year, F-1 students cannot work off-campus. Only on-campus employment is available, subject to USCIS conditions and restrictions.
Once the first academic year is over, F-1 students are allowed to engage in a limited number of off-campus jobs related to their area of study, which are:
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)
In specific cases, F-1 students may be eligible to work off-campus based on situations involving severe economic hardship or special student relief.
While F-1 students have more freedom of choice in terms of employment rights, M-1 students can only engage in practical training after completing their studies. In both cases, students must seek authorization from the Designated School Official (DSO).