If you are a Canadian or Mexican national seeking to pursue vocational studies in the United States, you may be eligible for a nonimmigrant student visa called the M-3. The M-3 visa is specifically intended for Mexican and Canadian students who are “border commuters” –individuals who live close enough to the border to commute to a U.S. vocational or non-academic institution.
Vocational institutions provide training programs that offer direct instruction in skilled trades. Such programs include mechanical and technical studies, culinary schools, flight schools, cosmetology programs, and other nonacademic programs, other than language training.
The M-3 visa is ideal for individuals who live close enough to commute to a U.S. school, but who do not have the means to temporarily relocate to the United States. As a result, the M-3 visa alleviates the need to prove that you have sufficient assets to fund your expenses for the duration of your studies. The M-3 visa also gives you the option to study part-time, unlike the M-1 visa. The M-3 visa should not be confused with the F-3 visa, which is intended for commuters enrolled in academic (non-vocational) programs.
The M-3 visa comes with several limitations. You are not allowed to reside in the United States at any point while you hold M-3 status. In addition, border commuter students cannot obtain derivative visas for their family members to accompany them. Such a derivative status (called the M-2 visa) is only permitted for dependents of M-1 students.