In order to do any flight training in the USA that ends with a certificate, cadets must be on student visas. The state department is very clear about this issue. You cannot train in the US on a B-1/B-2 tourist/business visa. Beware of any school that says you can or accepts visa waivers. The last thing a potential commercial pilot wants is a deportation records from the United States of America for BAS (Boundary and Annexation Survey) paperwork. It could ruin your career before you start.
The form I-20 is a legal Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status issued from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which is operated by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The SEVP is one component of National Security Investigations and it provides information to U.S. government organizations, which have an interest in non-immigrants entering the country as students.
This I-20 form is important as a means of detailing supporting information on a student's F or M status, and is therefore critical to the application process. When this form is filled out properly and the other steps below have been completed, you as a student are assuring the U.S. government that you will be a hard-working, serious, full-time student - and all the opportunities within the United States of America will become available to you.
Application Steps for M-1 Student Flight Training
- Complete all necessary forms, including the enrollment form and the legal I-20 application. These forms may seem redundant and tedious at times, but proper identification is very important to the overall process.
- Choose a date where you expect to enter the country for your flight course, which can be anywhere up to 30 days before the class actually begins. Most students typically arrive the weekend before class begins, or if possible, perhaps one week prior so as to get acclimated to the surroundings.
- Make sure you have a clear color scan of your passport, since it will be needed to provide positive identification while you are in the country. Also, remember that the name that appears on your passport is the legal name you must use on all other documentation going forward.
- Deposit the required funds in a banking establishment and have ready proof of your deposit. The U.S. Embassy will require proof that you have the means to attend the class and have real intentions of attending. The flight school enrollment will of course also want to know that you can afford the cost of the course.
- Before you arrive in the U.S. make sure to take a course or several courses in English, and make an honest effort to learn the language. Most additional training for international students happens before the flight-training program really begins, and is due to poor communication skills by prospective students. The U.S. Embassy will also require that you speak English well enough to function in the country before granting you a visa, so this is an absolute must.
Role of the flight school
Any flight school that a student wishes to attend must be authorized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to issue the I-20 student visa form, and can help to complete the application. This completed I-20 form and all other documentation would then be presented to the interviewing officer at the U.S. Consulate. The M-1 visa will then allow a student to study for and hopefully achieve certification for the specific flight training desired.