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Old 21st Aug 2009, 17:16   #1 (permalink)

 
Join Date: Sep 2007
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Arrow FAA - Flight Training VISAs CONCERN

Guys,

I am really confused with the PROPER VISA needed to train in the USA as an international student.

I had a talk with a flight school manager saying a TOURIST VISA (B-1) and TSA approval is enough to start flight training (Private to CFI ratings).

Then I come to see this webpage from AOPA saying that you need CORRECT VISA and TSA approval to start your training, and I believe it is the M-1 visa (Vocational Student) as what many other flight schools impose.

So I would like to ask for anyone's knowledge and shed light upon this matter.

Thanks a lot!!!
Aerocadet is offline   Reply
Old 21st Aug 2009, 17:43   #2 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
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true M1 or even J1(couple of schools have these) are the only visas offered and can train in flight schools.

B1, and basically these schools that offers b1...doesnt have the authority to issue visas like any part141 schools...so they use the b1 to bring international student to their schools(which is illegal). and btw if u did apply for B1 visa what are you gonna say when the immigration officer when he asks about ur intention to visit USA???

my 2 cents...b careful of these schools that offer other than the M1 and J1 visas
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Old 21st Aug 2009, 18:45   #3 (permalink)
 
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Ok, Tourist visa is not B1, B1 is a business visa.

You cannot train, study or work on a tourist visa.

In any event, a business visa is ONLY appropriate if you are an employed current commercial pilot, going for recertification or to maintain an existing rating, and there is no classroom work.

The above is from the US Embassy in London.

If you are going for an initial which involves licence issue, which it sounds like you are, you will need an M1 student Visa

I'm going for a type rating on my JAA ATPL, and to use the checkride for the issue of the FAA ATP. I'm getting an M1 because it's a new type rating, and I'm getting a licence issued in the US.

I know many people go on business or even the visa waiver programme. My understanding is that this is *technically* innapropriate if you are going to obtain a licence (ie. not revalidate or maintain something you already have, or have had).

Most get away with it it appears, but I don't want a paper trail in the US that someone could use to figure out I took flight training illegally in the US at some point in the future, even if I do make it in and out without being stopped.
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Old 21st Aug 2009, 23:40   #4 (permalink)
 
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MB,

Quote:
You cannot train, study or work on a tourist visa.

In any event, a business visa is ONLY appropriate if you are an employed current commercial pilot, going for recertification or to maintain an existing rating, and there is no classroom work.
Yes you can undertake flying training, under certain circumstances, on business/pleasure visa (B1/B2). Those falling into this category shall be undertaking part-time (ie fewer than 18 or 22 hours per week, subject as defined in the INA) vocational study (flying training) which is incidental to those primary purposes establishing admissibility under B1/B2 visas. The JAR-FCL NQ is an obvious example - someone taking the family on holiday to Florida and squeezing in a NQ if he has the time. Another example, same circumstances, might be the undertaking of a full JAR-FCL PPL.

That is the opinion of the Office of the Inspector General in its report dated 20th May 2002, Special Report

See FN10 to Ch. 2.3:

Quote:
The academic student is defined as a "bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study and who seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study consistent with section 214(l) at an established college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program in the United States." The vocational student is defined as "an alien having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning who seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing a full course of study at an established vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution (other than in a language training program) in the United States." 8 USC § 1101(a)(15)(f) and (m). A "full course of studies" is defined separately for academic and vocational students. For vocational students, a "full course of studies" is defined as at least 12 semester hours if the school is a community college or junior college, 12 hours per week if it is a postsecondary vocational or business school, 18 clock hours of attendance a week if the dominant part of the course consists of classroom instruction in a vocational school, and 22 clock hours of attendance a week if the dominant part of the course of study consists of "shop or laboratory work." 8 CFR § 214.2(m)(9). For academic students, the hours required for a "full course of studies" depend on the type of program (e.g., postgraduate, undergraduate, language school) that the student is taking. 8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6). Students who do not meet these hourly requirements do not qualify for an M-1 or F-1 visa. However, they can be admitted under a B-1/B-2 visa if the inspector determines that their course of study is incidental to their primary purpose of pleasure or for a business related purpose.
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Old 22nd Aug 2009, 05:28   #5 (permalink)

 
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Arrow

So it means I can still train under the B1/B2 visa!?

INCIDENTAL? That means some flight schools accept students by lying to the immigration officer when they are faced in a conversation regarding their purpose of stay?

Am I right?

Are there actions taken upon this matter by immigration?

Anyway, I prefer to change my status from B1 to M1 because I'm going for training in a full-time basis.

Thanks a lot!
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Old 22nd Aug 2009, 07:47   #6 (permalink)
 
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Are there actions taken upon this matter by immigration?


YES a stamp that bars you from entering the USA for 10 years, which is really going to screw you over...who knows you might get a job with a carrier who flies into the US or one its territories, and now you have screwed yourself trying to cheap out by not getting a M1 visa.

I think there is another rule somewhere that states all flght training needs a m1 visa to be held.

goodluck, but dont rick getting the stamp is my thoughts
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Old 22nd Aug 2009, 09:20   #7 (permalink)

 
Join Date: Sep 2007
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Arrow

Now that's scary.. Hehe!

Thanks a lot for the tip!

This flight school manager keeps on bragging.. No more student visa needed just a visa to enter. How come the TSA doesn't check on this matter?

Any known actions taken by the TSA?

Thanks a lot!
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Old 22nd Aug 2009, 09:48   #8 (permalink)

 
Join Date: Sep 2007
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Arrow Follow-up

Just to ask, do I need to CONVERT my B-1 to M-1?

Thanks.

Anyone had experience in doing such conversion?
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Old 22nd Aug 2009, 10:04   #9 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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TSA have no interest in visa matters :

Dear Candidate,

TSA is not a visa-issuing authority and AFSP cannot answer questions
regarding visas or I-20s. Please contact your flight training provider
and/or SEVIS for more information. You can find contact information for
SEVIS at ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS): Contact Information.


Regards,

AFSP Help
AFSP.Help@dhs.gov
1-571-227-4544

Selfin is correct in his post in that you can enter under business visa if the flying is incidental to your stay and less than 18 (or 22) hours per week.

My post was in relation to professional pilot training - i.e not incidental to stay and not less than 18 hours per week. My course is 0800 - 1700 each day for 13 days.

The Department of State has deemed that "short term simulator sessions for employed professional pilots is consistent with B-1 status", this is contained in a letter from the Department of State to FlightSafety.

I forwarded this letter to the Embassy, and received this :

In light of the information that you provided from the Department of State we sought further clarification from them. We have been advised that provided the simulator training is short-term and being done to get recertified or maintain existing certification and there is no classroom instruction, a B-1 visa or travel under the Visa Waiver Program is appropriate. If not, you will require the student (M-1) visa.

Sincerely

Consular Information Unit

To cut a long story short, you need an M1, You should be able to convert your B1 visa if you already have it but you would have to check with your Embassy or Consulate as rules may be different where you are to the UK.

In order to obtain an M1, the school needs to be approved, you can find the list here :

You may access our list of SEVIS approved schools at ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS): Schools and Programs Already F&M Certified? . If you do not see that school listed as an approved school, or if you don’t see that location on the list, than they will not be able to issue you an M-1 visa.


Sincerely,

School Certification Branch

SEVP Immigration & Customs Enforcement

Potomac Center North

500 12th Street SW

Washington, DC 20536

Tel: (703) 603-3591

Email: schoolcert.sevis@dhs.gov

International Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)

If the school cannot issue you with an I-20-M, you cannot get an M1 and will have to find a provider that can.

I've had to switch already.

Good luck.

Last edited by Mack Buffet; 22nd Aug 2009 at 10:16.
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Old 22nd Sep 2009, 19:28   #10 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
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What happens in the case that i hold FAA CPL ME IR Certificates and want to go just to remain current. Need to fly 17-18 hours.
Can i take a B1/B2 for that?
Can i tell the US CONSULATE Guy who interviews me that ill be building 15 hours to remain current and also have a vacation planned?
will that work?

I have a M1 which is valid for 5 years, it still is valid but it in another flight schools name so thats why i need to change so im just confused should i go for a M1 or B1/B2 (Taking the B1/b2 is my preferred option cuz then i can visit US anytime)

please help
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Old 23rd Sep 2009, 13:22   #11 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: FL, USA
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OK, here we go again.
Just to make a long story short, the M-1 visa was NOT originally intended to be a flight training visa.
Prior to 2001 a visa was not required for flight training.
Since there was no specific flight training visa, flight training was added to whatever else you could do on the M-1.
Which also means that not all of the M-1 rules may apply to flight training:

Quote:
The academic student is defined as a "bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study and who seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study consistent with section 214(l) at an established college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program in the United States." The vocational student is defined as "an alien having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning who seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing a full course of study at an established vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution (other than in a language training program) in the United States." 8 USC § 1101(a)(15)(f) and (m). A "full course of studies" is defined separately for academic and vocational students. For vocational students, a "full course of studies" is defined as at least 12 semester hours if the school is a community college or junior college, 12 hours per week if it is a postsecondary vocational or business school, 18 clock hours of attendance a week if the dominant part of the course consists of classroom instruction in a vocational school, and 22 clock hours of attendance a week if the dominant part of the course of study consists of "shop or laboratory work." 8 CFR § 214.2(m)(9). For academic students, the hours required for a "full course of studies" depend on the type of program (e.g., postgraduate, undergraduate, language school) that the student is taking. 8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6). Students who do not meet these hourly requirements do not qualify for an M-1 or F-1 visa. However, they can be admitted under a B-1/B-2 visa if the inspector determines that their course of study is incidental to their primary purpose of pleasure or for a business related purpose.
Highlights in blue: I don't see flight training specifically mentioned there so the assume that it is included is very risky.
Do not qualify is not the same as "do not need one".

Quote:
Selfin is correct in his post in that you can enter under business visa if the flying is incidental to your stay and less than 18 (or 22) hours per week
I beg to differ, it does NOT mention flying anywhere in the above quoted rule.
It mentions class room instruction or "shop or laboratory".
Only Part 141 certified schools can accept foreign students and have the capability to issue the I-20 which is the visa application form.
Schools that tell you that you do not need a visa are either blatantly lying or simply misinformed. IN ANY CASE, THEY ARE NOT AT RISK, YOU ARE.
An Immigration official will not accept and "I didn't know" or "they told me so" story and you will be forced to quit your training and be deported with an immigration violation which will barr you from entering the USA for up to 10 years.

Guitarboy, you DO NOT NEED A VISA for flight training, you may need a visa to enter, depends which country you are from.
You already hold all the certificates for which a flight training visa is required.
And your M-1 visa may be valid but an M-1 can only be used if it is accompagnied by a valid I-20 issued by a school which has the authority to do so. So attempting to enter the US on your M-1 (without the I-20) will not work and you will likely be denied.
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Old 23rd Sep 2009, 14:33   #12 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
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Quote:
You may access our list of SEVIS approved schools at ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS): Schools and Programs Already F&M Certified? . If you do not see that school listed as an approved school, or if you don’t see that location on the list, than they will not be able to issue you an M-1 visa.
Mack Buffet, you have stated that you require a M1 visa to do a TYPE RATING, and yet when i read the list of SEVIS approved schools, I cant find Boeing, Flight Safety or even Simuflight, as these are some of the biggest type rating organizations in the USA, it appears strange that they are not able to issue M1 visas.

Mutt
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Old 24th Sep 2009, 09:58   #13 (permalink)
 
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B2N2,

The first portion of the OIG footnote you have highlighted is in connection with academic courses and students. Flying training is regarded by the DHS as non-academic / vocational. The M-1 is for vocational courses.

Quote:
Only Part 141 certified schools can accept foreign students and have the capability to issue the I-20 which is the visa application form.
Formatting added.

...unless an established institution not being a Part 141 center receives SEVP certification and associated approval for its Part 61 (etc) courses.

--

A few more checks and balances are being introduced via SEVIS II:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Overview - Creation of SEVIS II
SEVIS II will generate and displays an admissibility indicator for each F/M/J nonimmigrant that reflects whether they are currently eligible for admission into the U.S. under the terms of their F/M/J class of admission. F/M/J nonimmigrants may view their admissibility indicator in SEVIS II before traveling to the U.S. to confirm that they are eligible to enter the U.S. at that time. To generate the admissibility indicator, SEVIS II uses the information already in the system and a set of business rules to determine if the individual is currently eligible to enter the U.S. as an F/M/J nonimmigrant. SEVIS II will exports the admissibility indicator to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS) to allow CBP officers to view the admissibility indicator when the F/M/J nonimmigrant arrives at the border and requests admission. The CBP officer uses the admissibility indicator to determine if the individual may enter as an F/M/J.

Overview - Creation of SEVIS II
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Old 24th Sep 2009, 14:38   #14 (permalink)
 
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Last time I was in the USA (Around 1 month ago) at a flight school which is approved under SEVIS, I bumped into a Senior Immigration official. Before I get on to what he said I might as well share his appearance:

He wore a cowboy hat, had white hair and moustache, and wore an outfit resembling a cowboy from the west - which kept me pretty entertained as an interesting image on immigration.

When asked about this he said the same kind of thing as :

Quote:
Do not qualify is not the same as "do not need one".
To cut a long story short he explained that anyone undertaking a course of flying would be doing more than 18 hours of study so would need the M-1 visa.

The schools which trained people on B1 visas are lying or do not understand the implications - as stated before YOU are at risk!

This happened to a school recently in Washington he mentioned to me.

They did training without M1 visas (he did not specify what status the students had) - the school was closed - the students expelled from the United States with the 5 year ban and the owners and instructors (who apparently have a responsibility as well) have all be subpoenad.

Use that along with the tailwinds flight school story and that should warn most people off.

As far as he was concerned there is no provision under US immigration laws for flight training to be conducted by a foreign national at a non SEVIS school.

Interesting stuff.
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Old 24th Sep 2009, 17:36   #15 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
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you guys seem to love the legal stuff, here is more in an older thread:
Guide to obtaining a JAA PPL in the US (part 1)

The bottom line for me with regards to getting a visa (based on personal experience) is:
It is your personal choice how much peace of mind you need; a lot of people tell you different things.

Everyone digging through the paragraphs will tell you that you need a visa - in most circumstances. Yes, you are absolutely on the safe side getting one!!!
some people also speed..... and there is the risk of hitting someone at the same time and getting sued because you were speeding. the downside is substantial with a small chance of occuring. Your judgement call. If you want to cover you behind, you dont speed....

I went through the whole bloody M1 process and got it for my private.
I needed that peace of mind as I was solely there for my training and back then, would have probably freaked out every time I would have seen someone in uniform. The issue is - other than the immigration officer who wants to know the purpose of your stay - it seems like nobody afterwards cares about it. Neither the TSA, nor the flight school, nor the examiner.

In hindsight it seems like a lot of money...."what brings you to the united states" - "I want to have fun and see as much of your country as possible"

thoughts?
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Old 25th Sep 2009, 12:51   #16 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
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Quote:
you guys seem to love the legal stuff
No I don't , just happens to be part of the job.

Quote:
other than the immigration officer who wants to know the purpose of your stay - it seems like nobody afterwards cares about it. Neither the TSA, nor the flight school, nor the examiner
And it isn't the examiner's job to care about it, however some FSDO's (regional FAA offices) have required their Pilot examiners to ask for visa's.
Not all, some. I'm not sure I agree about that practice, they are examiners and not trained to be the visa-police.
The Immigration officer cares and so should you. He has the final authority as to allowing you to enter the country.
A visa DOES NOT (repeat, DOES NOT) give you the RIGHT to enter the US, it gives you the privilige.
Quote:
In hindsight it seems like a lot of money...."
No it is not. You need a visa for certain holiday destinations don't you?
There is a reason (probably financial) why you did your flight training in the US.
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Old 25th Sep 2009, 15:04   #17 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: LA
Posts: 44
B2N2,

i don't disagree with your comments, no its not the examiners task to check the visa; yes, as a pilot you have to deal with legal stuff, yes you need visas for some holiday destinations.

In most scenarios legal interpretation requires you to get a visa. (and I stated that in my previous post - one is definitely on the safe side). When someone asks - do I need a visa - apart from the legal answer it helps to share experiences about the whole process. I wish someone along the way would have said - I want to check your visa now as you are a flight student - that would have made me feel like the hassle getting this thing was worthwhile.


There is the cost element (see below) but there is also opportunity cost for people that work.

To actually break down the visa costs / time requirements (this varies by country + exchange rate though)

cost of getting US embassy appointment in the first place $10 (2 weeks beforehand offpeak, 1-2months beforehand peak i.e. when lots of students apply for them)
Visa fee: ~$150 (depends on local currency)
SEVIS fee to register (necessary): $200
other small stuff - like getting passport sized photograph the way the US embassy wants it (which is unfortunately not the way the EU wants it. nobodys fault but still annoying). paying secure insured delivery for passport.....
time requirement to compile all information to fill out visa documents: 1/2 day
time at US embassy: 1/2 day - day. (if you live in a city that has an embassy / consulate else add travel)
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