The South Florida area is home to some 17 colleges and numerous language schools. The Miami area provides a diversity of educational opportunities for those seeking technical training, a bachelors, masters or doctorate degree, or who just want to polish their English (or Spanish!). As a hub of international commerce and exchange, Miami is alive with international travelers, who arrive and depart every day from three massive sea ports (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Key West), two international airports, and a bustling highway, all looking to immerse themselves in the depth of educational options.
The M-1 Visa is available to vocational students, while the F-1 Visa is available to academic students (including language schools).
- The First Step should be deciding what you want to study in the US, and what school or institution you would like to do it at.
- The Second Step should be ensuring that your choice school is SEVP certified (Student and Exchange Visitor Program). To check your SEVP you have to go to the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) on the internet. Just ask the school to show proof of SEVP certification. In general, ineligible non-SEVP schools include: home school, pre-school and/or day care, public elementary or junior high school, online and distance education schools, adult education schools funded by the government, and FAA flight schools. So, if you’re actually taking the class in Miami, and are do not want to become a pilot or go to publicly funded school, you should be okay. If you are, you still might be okay, just maybe with a different visa.
- The Third Step, once you have picked a school, applied, and been accepted, should be deciding whether you need the M-1 or the F-1. You may want the F-1 if you are going to university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary school, a conservatory, or other academic institution (including language training programs). You may want the M-1 if you are going to a vocational (for a skill or trade, like cooking or mechanics) or other recognized nonacademic institution. So remember, F-1 for SoBe Languages and the U, and M-1 for Le Cordon Bleu.
- The Fourth Step should be making sure that you apply at the golden moment: between 120 days and 30 days. Keep in mind that the Department of Homeland Security requires that all beginning students can only enter the US 30 days or less before the study start date (or get another visitor visa to come earlier!). Please also remember that if you apply for an F/M Visa more than 120 days out, the Embassy or Consulate will just hold on to your application until it’s withing 120 days of your study start date.