This week the Department of State published a final rule creating two new nonimmigrant visa categories - F3 and M3, for residents and citizens of Mexico and Canada. The visa will allow Canadian and Mexican commuters to enter the United States to attend an approved F or M school.
What is the background of these new visa classifications?
The Department of State's amendments were drafted in order to implement the "Border Commuter Student Act of 2002," which was signed into law on November 2, 2002. The bill was introduced by Rep Jim Kolbe of Arizona in the House and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas in the Senate.
The law allows Mexican and Canadian citizens traveling across the border to take classes part-time or full-time in the United States to be admitted. Previously, part-time students from Canada and Mexico were allowed to enter the US as visitors, but in the aftermath of Sept 11, the Department of Homeland Security found such students not eligible for admittance as visitors since their purpose was to attend class, and they were also not eligible for F-1 (academic) or M-1 (non-academic or vocational) visas because those classifications require students to attend full-time.
Do the new visa classifications allow for any activity other than part-time study?
Students classified under the F-3 and M-3 are permitted to study on either a part-time or a full-time basis, but family members are not entitled to derivative F-2 or M-2 status.
When will the rule take effect?
The rule took effect August 11, 2003.
The Border Commuter Student Act of 2002 can be viewed online at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/t2GPO/http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=107_cong_bills&docid=f:h4967rds.txt.pdf