The M-3 visa is intended for citizens of Mexico or Canada to attend non-academic or vocational schools in the United States as border commuter students.
The M-3 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that can be used only for the specific purpose of commuting to the United States to pursue a course of study at an established non-academic or vocational school.
This visa should not be confused with the M-1 visa. The M-1 visa is also intended for international students studying at non-academic or vocational schools. However, the M-1 students must be enrolled in a full-time course of study and be residing temporarily in the United States for the duration of their program. See M-1 Visas for Non-Academic Training Students for more on this visa.
The primary benefit of the M-3 visa is that it gives you the flexibility to commute to school if you live in an area where that is possible and you do not have the means to temporarily relocate to the United States. The M-3 visa therefore alleviates the need to prove that you have liquid assets to fund living expenses for the duration of your program. The M-3 visa also gives you the option to study part-time.
There are limitations of the M-3 visa that you should be aware of too. You will not be allowed to reside in the United States at any point while you are in M-3 status. If your circumstances change and you no longer want to commute, you will have to apply to change your status to M-1.
Another limitation is that your dependents will not be eligible for a derivative status that allows them to temporarily enter the United States. Derivative status is permitted only for dependents of M-1 students.
Finally, M-3 students are required to be monitored by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is a database that tracks international students to ensure that they are maintaining their status. Only SEVIS-approved schools can sponsor international students in M-3 status. This may or may not affect your ability to attend your school of choice.
To be eligible for the M-3 visa, you must:
If you are a citizen of Mexico, you will need to apply for an M-3 visa at a U.S. consulate. You will have to complete the DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application and print out the application confirmation page, which you will show the consular officer at your interview. You will also have to bring:
Always check your consulate’s website when you schedule an appointment, to find out whether it requires you to bring any additional documents.
If you are a citizen of Canada, you are exempt from having a visa and you can apply for M-3 status at the port of entry. You will still need to provide your I-20 form, SEVIS fee receipt, and evidence of your permanent residence in Canada.
You will have to pay the SEVIS fee, regardless of whether you are a Mexican or Canadian citizen. If you are a citizen of Mexico, you will also have to pay the DS-160 application fee, in addition to a visa issuance fee. For the latest fees, see the "Fees for Visa Services" page of the U.S. State Department's website.