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Update to Archived Story - TSA Clarifies Rules on Visa Permitted for Alien Pilots in Training

For information regarding flight training for non-U.S. citizens, please refer to the TSA Alien Flight Student Program at www.flightschoolcandidates.gov.

There is an extensive FAQ section to reference program regulations and requirements, as well as contact information for any further questions.

TSA Clarifies Rules on Visa Permitted for Alien Pilots in Training
March 28, 2005 - The Transportation Security Administration this week clarified its position with regard to the status of aliens permitted to receive flight training in the United States.  In response to issues raised by NAFI executive director Rusty Sachs and government relations specialist Doug Macnair during a visit to TSA in January, TSA attorney Monty Thompson provided guidelines to determine the permitted visa status for alien pilots seeking flight training.

On Friday, April 12, 2002, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an Interim rule through the Federal Register (Vol. 67, No.71) proposing to amend 8 CFR Parts 214 and 248. This amendment requires a change of status from any non-immigrant visitor visa (B-1 or B-2) to a student visa (F-1 of M-1) prior to pursuing a course of study.

Here is the order of logic on how the INS code relates to the flight-training rule:

NO flight training under Category 1, 2, or 3 (49 CFR 1552.3) should be conducted for ANY alien who has entered the U.S. in B-1 or B-2 (visitor's) status.  It is a violation of the status under which the non-immigrant visitor entered the U.S.

A change of status to M-1 or F-1 is permitted once the candidate has entered the US, only if the candidate applies prior to enrolling in and attending a flight-training course.

Only FAA Certificated Part 141 and/or 142 schools approved and participating in SEVIS program are authorized to issue an I-20 form to a prospective student upon enrollment into a course;  the prospective student must request the change of status and receive the subsequent Student Visa.

FAA Part 61 schools and independent flight instructors MAY train a foreign national, if that alien is (a) a Legal Permanent Resident or in a work status (H-type visa) with extended stay privileges or (b) a refugee in Asylum status with appropriate DHS documentation.

FAA Part 61 schools and independent flight instructors MAY train a foreign national on an F-1 (academic visa) provided that the student is enrolled and attending the college or university as shown on the F-1 and the student has notified SEVIS of the additional training being received at a non-SEVIS approved school.

NOTE:   All prospective foreign national (alien) flight training candidates must register and submit information to the TSA's Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP), regardless of Visa status.