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International Education Week: The Differences Between F, M and J Status

November 14, 2016

Nov. 14−18, 2016 marks International Education Week (IEW) 2016. IEW is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education that annually celebrates the benefits of cultural and academic exchange programs around the world.

The United States admits foreign nationals whose main purpose is to study or participate in academic exchange under one of three nonimmigrant statuses: F-1, M-1 or J-1. The status is dependent on the type of academic program the international student will enroll in and complete once in the United States.

It is important to know that a student status is different from a student visa, which is the travel document an international student receives from a U.S. embassy or consulate before entering the United States. However, both a student status and a student visa reflect an international student’s primary purpose for coming to the United States.

The learning objectives are different for each of the three statuses; therefore the rules and regulations for these three types of students differ.

Federal regulations require that all F-1 and M-1 international students attend a school or program certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). However, J-1 exchange visitors must be sponsored by an organization designated by the Department of State.

F-1 Status

The F-1 status is for international students that wish to enroll in a more traditional academic program. Students can enroll as an F-1 student at any academic level, including those students who wish to enroll in an English as a second language program.

M-1 Status

M-1 students are those who enroll in vocational programs. International students under M-1 status usually study in a program that is shorter in length and teaches a technical skill like culinary, cosmetology or aviation.

J-1 Status

J-1 exchange visitors come to the United States to participate in a program specifically geared toward cultural exchange. However it is important to remember that not all J-1 exchange visitors come here to study — there are many different types of cultural exchange programs available under J-1 exchange visitor status. For more information about the J-1 status, please visit the Department of State website.

Want to learn more about studying in the United States? Follow IEW throughout this week on social media using the hashtag #IEW2016.

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