The two types of Student visa are F (for academic purposes) and M (for vocational purposes).
Details on both are described below:
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 publically 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, unsubsidized 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.
When a B visa may be appropriate for travel
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; or
- the program is recreational or vocational in nature.
Please note: If you will earn academic credit or completion of an academic program of study, a B-2 visa is not appropriate. Similarly, if you are traveling to the United States to attend seminars or conferences that are required to earn a degree you are not eligible for the B-2 visa. This includes students engaged in an on-line course of study traveling to the United States for academic consultations or to take examinations.
If your purpose of travel is to attend a professional education, seminar, or conference that does not result in academic credit you may apply for a B-1 visa