Are you a foreigner looking to become a pilot in the USA? It can seem like a daunting prospect. However, it is absolutely possible to achieve your goal! With a little bit of effort and sufficient planning, you can succeed in becoming a pilot in the US even if you’re not a citizen.

It may take longer to get approved for flight school, but there is a system in place to make it more convenient for international students to fulfill their goal of becoming an airline pilot. According to federal law, as a foreigner, you must undergo a security threat assessment and participate in the Alien Flight Student Program. We discuss what this means in detail below.

However, first, know that Crew Pilot Training, Inc. is glad to help properly vetted and certified students take to the sky and work through the necessary courses. We are particularly focused on training already-licensed commercial pilots to upgrade to an Airline Transport Pilot’s Certificate with a Boeing 737 aircraft type rating. If you are an international student in Texas or Florida, reach out to us today to learn how we can help you get your pilot career started ASAP!

Preliminary Steps to Get Into Flight School

As an international student, there are certain steps you must undertake before you are legally allowed to be a commercial pilot. However, exemptions exist for if you are operating airships, balloons, and gliders, which are exempt from the TSA security threat list. If you are seeking training in an American flight school as an alien, you are not allowed to participate until you have been properly vetted and certified. This process usually takes a few months.

#1: Make Sure Your Visa Is All Set

If you are illegally in the U.S., the AFSP (Alien Flight Student Program) will decline your request for flight school candidacy. You must have a visa if you are to participate in flight school. Participating in flight school without a visa could result in your arrest and removal from the country.

#2: Contact Our Flight School

If you have your visa and you intend to participate in our flight school, tell us! We will need to fill out an online registration before you can begin flight training with us. From there, we will request the necessary documents from you to send copies over to the TSA for their review.

#3: Apply Online

Make an account with the TSA’s AFSP website and fill out the application in as much detail as possible. Once the training request is made, wait for our flight school to acknowledge the request before proceeding further. Once we confirm your request, you will be emailed a bill for $130 from the TSA for processing the application.

#3: Final Steps

Once the TSA receives your payment, then you will wait to see if they approve of the application. If the application is successful, you will then need to submit fingerprints. After you submit your fingerprints according to the AFSP’s guidelines (they’ll send them to you), you’ll then have permission to begin flight school! You now have 3 months to begin training and a year to complete the program.

Becoming a Pilot

After completing these preliminary steps, the process of becoming a pilot is the same for you as it is for citizens. Our flight school specializes in more advanced courses (like training commercial pilots to upgrade to flying Boeing 737s), yet this information should still be a good reminder for you.

#1: Get a FAA Student Pilot Certificate

Before you can get in a plane, you need to complete an application through the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application website (or you can mail the application in). You can then submit the application to our flight school. We will review your application and then send out the required documents to the Airman Certification Branch (ACB) to get your student pilot license certified. You can expect approximately three weeks for the ACB to complete their certification.

#2: Start Ground School Classes

Before you get in a plane, it’s crucial to develop the basic practical knowledge necessary so that you will be thoroughly prepared for flying. The format for ground school is primarily classroom lectures given by one of our flight instructors, and involves written, oral, and other forms of examination. If you go to flight school three times a week, it will take approximately four to six months to complete.

#3: Begin Flight Lessons

Training alongside a certified flight instructor, it’s time to start getting practical experience in a real plane. You may have trained in some simulators before, but here is when you start learning to fly the real thing.

#4: Pass the Test

Whether you are training to be a private or commercial pilot, after you have racked up enough flight hours in your flight log and have the experience, knowledge, and wherewithal to do so, it’s time to take the test to assess your knowledge. You will need to have a wide understanding of everything from aerodynamics, to weather, to flight instruments, and more.

#5: Pass the Check Ride

After having successfully completed the previous tasks, the final task is to undertake a check ride. A Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) will ride along with you and put you through some challenges to test your preparedness. The process can be grueling and very challenging, but by this point, if we have put in the hard work of learning the basics and getting lots of practice, you should do just fine.

Start Your Career as a Pilot in America

Whether you want to be a commercial or a private pilot, or something else altogether, our professional team of CFIs can walk you through both the preliminary steps of being able to start flight school, and can also help you succeed in flight school within the first year. Crew Pilot Training has locations in both Texas and Florida. If you are a foreigner with the dream of becoming a pilot (or a foreign commercial pilot who wants to upgrade to flying a Boeing 737), give us a call today to get started! Our flight school is FAA approved, specializing in Boeing 737 flight training courses for commercial pilots who want to upgrade to an Airline Transport Pilot’s Certificate with a Boeing 737 aircraft type rating. If you are looking for complete, comprehensive training by some of the best pilots in Texas and Florida, Crew Pilot Training can help you succeed. We will work with you to help you get your Airline Transport Pilot certificate efficiently through our comprehensive training program. Our team of instructor pilots can help you take your pilot career to the skies! Ready to get started? Contact us today!