What are the possibilities of a EU national to become a CFI in the States? I want to get FAA licenses and find a CFI job to get a work visa and then build hours and eventually work for a regional airline.
Flight schools are hiring like crazy at the moment as they lose pilots to the airlines. Many of the large academy type schools in Florida, Texas and Arizona will hire their own as CFIs once they complete their training. If you're considering a university aviation program (UND, Embry Riddle, WMU, etc.) you would also have a great chance of getting hired. There are plenty of CFI jobs in the US if you know where to look, and many of them will enable you to build 100 hours per month or more.
We have three foreign CFIs at my school (not EU) and I'm aware of others at neighboring schools. I don't doubt that if you started applying for CFI jobs during your training you could find a position before your M-1 expired. If I were in your position, I'd probably find a good smaller school where you could get to know the management and staff. They may be a little more understanding of your situation. The big pilot mills do hire their CFI trainees, but they can also be impersonal. Big school pay is also pretty low.
As a foreigner, you would have to find a school offering flight training under an F-1 visa connected with an Academic Program. Under an F-1 visa, you can qualify for OPT, optional practical training, which allows you to stay and "work" for a limited time up to one year, but that´s it. If you want to stay in country after that, you will have to marry an American, hehe.
Several guys and gals have done this through Aviator College in Florida. From their website:
F1 VISA Program
F1 Visa program is for aspiring International Students who wish to enroll in our Professional Flight Training Program and then stay with us as Flight Instructors to help build their time toward the ATP Rating. (Airline Transportation Pilot Rating, 1500 hours). The Program takes 24 months for completion. Phase one of your training takes approximately nine months to complete. Phase two is the OPT program where you stay on as a flight instructor to build your time towards the 1500 hours. Our Flight Instructors typically flying 70 to 120 hours a month of which approximately half of the hours are multi-engine.
Degree seeking students enrolled in the College will complete twelve months of instruction, 8 months of CPT (Internship), and then be offered an opportunity to stay on as an instructor in the F1 OPT Visa program.
But then I receive a Transport Canada license, which isn't bad either.
The main thing that's keeping me from training in the States are the visa issues. Apparently it's easier to get a working visa for Canada for EU residents. I won't even need a visa for flight training in Canada if I stay shorter than 6 months.
Just wondering over the last few days, what about the guys who have done the whole JAA/EASA route and have a Frozen ATPL here in Europe.
If they wanted to work as a CFI under the FAA system, would they have to go and study under one of these professional pilot courses with the likes of Aviator, ATP etc and pay up the cash as if you were starting from scratch again. Am I wrong in saying this?
Is there realistically any chance of becoming an FAA CFI if you had done all your JAA/EASA training, without having to shell out $70,000 + for one of these professional courses?
As already mentioned by zondaracer, there are schools where you can work as a CFI, BUT (as a none US citizen) if you want to stay for longer and even work for a US Airline you must either win the green-card lottery or get married!
Further to what Zondaracer and Transonic have said, make sure you declare all your ratings and flight times, as some visa programs will not admit you if you already have a Comm license. As these are Student programs, a foreign Comm will disqualify you. Not all, but some.