AOPA has learned that the U.S. attorney general is expected to make an announcement as early as tomorrow regarding adherence to an existing law to register and track foreign nationals who wish to pursue training in the United States. According to U.S. officials, those "high risk" visitors who wish to remain in the United States for more than 30 days for flight training purposes would undergo a complete registration as well as being fingerprinted and photographed. This action would pave the way for U.S. flight schools dependent on teaching foreign students.
Unlike the state of Michigan, which recently passed legislation requiring U.S. student pilots to undergo rigorous state and FBI background checks, this federally imposed law expansion would focus on the foreign pilot population rather than misplacing the burden on the U.S. flight training community. In a recent letter to the governor of New Jersey, AOPA President Phil Boyer said, "A more logical approach to addressing aviation security and airman requirements would be to leave it to the federal government to implement, something that is occurring now." Boyer pointed out that flight training is and should be regulated by the FAA, not individual states. AOPA continues to oppose any state legislation that would preempt federal authority, unnecessarily hinder the training of U.S. students, and jeopardize the future of aviation economy in the United States.