The Culinary Institute of America

  • Student Visas

    As an international student coming to the United States to study at the CIA, you may be issued one of two student visas: F1 Visa or M1 Visa.

    The F1 Visa is required for students who are enrolling in the bachelor’s and associate degree programs. If you have an F-1 student visa and are enrolled in these programs, you may:

    • work on campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week with authorization by the school official.
    • complete the required externship in the U.S. with authorization by the school official; employment authorization is job-specific.
    • accept part-time employment off campus after nine months of full-time study with authorization from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via the application process; the time worked will be deducted from post-completion employment.
    • accept full-time employment for up to 12 months after completion of studies—with authorization from the DHS via the application process, which takes approximately three months.

    All of the above employment opportunities require a Social Security Number. This application process takes 10–20 days, with authorization from the school official.

    The M1 Visa is required for students enrolling in one of the certificate programs at our California campus. The M-1 visa does not allow students to work in the United States during their education, and is not acceptable for employment in the U.S. following graduation. Students may apply for employment authorization after completion of studies based on one month of employment for every four months of study.

    Note: Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S. but must have a passport. A student should present the passport, Form I-20 A-B, and financial documentation at the Canadian/U.S. border.


    When putting together your application for your student visa, be sure you have read the CIA admissions policy and that you have all the required documents listed below:

    • Form I-20 A-B
    • A valid passport
    • Financial information
    • Letter of admission from the CIA

    Applying for the F-1 student visa may vary depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate you are dealing with. You will be required to pay a nonrefundable visa application fee. There is an online visa application available, which allows you to complete and print Form DS-160 to take to your F-1 visa interview. You can schedule your F-1 visa interview with either the U.S. embassy or consulate. An F-1 student visa for the USA can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your college start date. You will only be able to enter the U.S. with an F-1 visa 30 days before your start date.

    Important information:
    Please do not make final travel plans until you have your visa approved. You are responsible for being familiar with immigration and visa laws. CIA staff will provide assistance and advisement where possible, but ultimately, you are responsible for knowing and complying with the laws of the United States, your home country, and the laws of the countries to which you travel while you are a CIA student. This includes non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 visa regulations. Additional information about student visas can be found in our international student guide (PDF).

Close Menu