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Alien Flight Training - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions TSA Flight Training Requirements M1 Visa for Vocational Training

 

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What is the Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP)?

The mission of the Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP) is to ensure that foreign students seeking training at flight schools regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) do not pose a threat to aviation or national security.  Responsibility for conduction security threat assessments for foreign flight training has been transferred to the Department of Homeland Security.

Are introductory or "discovery" flights exempt from the requirements of the TSA rule Yes.  Introductory or "discovery" flights are exempt from the requirements of the TSA rule.

What is the definition of flight training as it pertains to this rule for the purposes of needing to undergo citizenship verification? 

The TSA has further interpreted the definition of "flight training" for aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less to only apply to training for a recreational pilot, sport pilot, or private pilot certificate; multiengine rating (at any certificate level — i.e., does not apply to MEI); or instrument rating (does not include recurrent training).  Only US Citizens and Nationals are exempt from the TSA security threat assessment .

 
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What category do I qualify for?

Category 1 – Candidates who seek flight training in the operation of aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight greater than 12,500 pounds, but who do not fall into Category 2.

Category 2 – Candidates who seek flight training in the operation of aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight greater than 12,500 pounds, and who:

  • Are employed by a foreign air carrier that operates under 14 CFR part 1546;
  • Have unescorted access authority to a secured area of an airport under U.S.C. 44936(a)(1)(A)(ii), 49 CFR 1542.229;
  • Are a flight crew member who has successfully completed a criminal history records check in accordance with 49 CFR 1544.230; or 
  • Hold an airman’s certificate that is recognized by the FAA or appropriate US military agency, with a type rating for a multi-engine aircraft that has a certificated takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or more

Category 3 – Candidates who seek flight training in the operation of aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less for the following training events:

  • Initial airman’s certificate, including a private, recreational or sport pilot certificate.
  • Instrument Rating (IF)
  • Multi-Engine Rating (MEL)
  • Each of these training events requires a separate TSA training request.  Clarification regarding Category 3 exemptions is covered in the next FAQ. 
  • All other training events on aircraft with MTOW of 12,500 pounds or less are exempt from AFSP regulations, including Commercial Pilot License (CPL), Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL), and Certified Flight Instructor (CFI).

Category 4 – Candidates who seek recurrent training in the operation of aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight greater than 12,500 pounds, and are current and qualified on the aircraft for which they are requesting training. 
Candidates cannot apply for Category 4 – please see your Provider to apply.

 
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When is a flight student exempt from the TSA security threat assessment?  

The following are  exempt from  the required TSA security threat assessment:

  • U.S. Citizens and Nationals are exempt from the TSA security threat assessment.  Flight students must provide the flight school with one of the following options as proof of U.S. citizenship:
  • Valid, unexpired U.S. passport; or
  • Certified birth certificate AND government-issued photo ID; or
  • U.S. naturalization certificate with raised seal AND government-issued photo ID; or
  • Certificate of U.S. citizenship with raised seal AND government-issued photo ID; or
  • (For federal or military employees only) Employer’s official proof of U.S. citizenship AND federal-or military-issued photo ID, pursuant to a contract between the federal agency and the flight school.  Please note:  Federal or military employees who are non-U.S. citizens are NOT exempt from TSA requirements.
 
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Do the requirements for citizenship verification apply for flight reviews, aircraft checkouts, or instrument proficiency checks? 

No, TSA has interpreted the definition of "recurrent training" to NOT include any flight review, proficiency check, or other check required by 14 CFR § 61.57 or § 61.58 whose purpose is to review rules, maneuvers, or procedures, or to demonstrate a pilot's existing skills.

Can an alien candidate register without a passport? 

You are generally required to have a passport, but there are some people with very special circumstances who cannot obtain a passport. TSA will handle these situations on a case-by-case basis.

 
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Does the TSA have any international locations for processing fingerprints?  

In March 2005, TSA announced that certain international locations have been selected to process fingerprints for alien candidates. A list of participating airports is available at www.tsc-csc.com/printoffices/.

How long will it take to get an answer on my training request?

There are factors that affect the amount of time between training request submission and response, including:

  • Response time of your flight training provider.
  • Accuracy and completeness of your training request.
  • Nature of the request.
  • Category of the candidate.
 
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Once my flight training request has been approved, how long do I have
before my approval expires?

Once you have permission to train, you have 180 days to begin training and 365 days to complete the approved training. These time periods both start from the date you receive approval.  For example, if you begin flight training 30 days after you have been approved, you now have 335 days to finish.  If you do not finish, a new training request must be submitted.

What can I do if my request was returned for insufficient information? 

If your training request contains insufficient information required to make a determination on your request, you will receive an e-mail notification. You may return to this Web site, select the training request for which you received the e-mail notification, and review the information you provided for its accuracy and completeness. Make any changes needed, and resubmit your training request. On a resubmission, the flight training provider DOES NOT need to validate your request again, and you DO NOT have to pay another $130 USD processing fee.

 
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What if I need to cancel my flight training request? 

You may now cancel a training request that is in the Draft status by going to Step 7 of the request, clicking on the Edit link for that request, and clicking the "Delete Training Request" button.

Do the requirements for citizenship verification apply to flight training in airships, balloons, or gliders?

No, TSA has granted an exemption for those schools that provide, and individuals who apply for, instruction in the operation of airships, balloons, or gliders. This exemption also exempts schools that only provide instruction in airships, balloons, and gliders from the security awareness training requirement.

Am I required to resubmit fingerprints for taking additional flight training? 

No. Any additional flight training does not require resubmitting additional fingerprints. However, you must use the same account (pin) number that you used for your initial flight training request in order for this exemption to apply.

 
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I am pursuing a U.S. pilot certificate based on my foreign license. Am I required to comply with the TSA rule?

No, TSA has clarified that getting a U.S. certificate based on a foreign license does not apply to the requirements of the rule.

I was approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Flight Training Candidate Checks Program (FTCCP); do I have to go through the TSA background check? 

The AFSP (Alien Flight Student Program) requires candidates to submit a request for each instance of flight training. Although some candidates have received final approval in the past through the DOJ's Flight Training Candidate Checks Program (FTCCP), they must submit a request for approval of new training through the AFSP Web site.

Please note that any user ID and password that was created for the FTCCP Web site will work on the AFSP Web site; you do not need to create a new account if you already have one from the FTCCP.

If I am in the US for university study on an F1 (or employed in the US on a H visa),
and I also want to flight train while I continue my studies, may I do so?

Yes you can. If someone has a visa that allows them to train/study, they can do flight training incidental to status on whatever visa they have. For example, if it is an F-1, the person needs to continue to maintain status as an F-1 through the program of study at the F-1 school. They should inform the DSO there that they are pursuing flight training incidental to their status, in their spare time, and the DSO of the F-1 should note this on the I-20 in SEVIS.   The same parameters apply to the holder of an H visa. The person would still need TSA approval prior to flight training.

I am coming to the US for a visit on a B1 tourist visa.  Can I take some flight lessons
while I am there?

If you are coming to the US for a temporary visit and NOT for the purpose of flight training, you may take a few flight lessons during your stay, however you may not take a full-time course of study for a new certificate or rating.  You would still require TSA approval prior to flight training.

 

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Rev. 07/04/2008