The U.S. Department of State has issued a statement of policy announcing its intent to end a program that allows foreign flight students to work while they study in the United States.
The J-1 visa program, which is slated to end in June 2010, offers foreign students a two-year visa to go through flight training and work as flight instructors to build flying time. Other training options will still exist, such as the F-1 student and M-1 vocational student visa, although neither allows the student to work.
Currently, eight U.S. flight schools train as many as 700 students each year using the J-1 visa program. Those schools estimate that their revenue could be cut in half if the program is ended.
“While this only impacts a small number of students, we are deeply disappointed that the State Department believes that flight training programs no longer further the public diplomacy mission of the United States,” said Craig Spence, AOPA vice president of aviation security “This country has long been a world leader in flight training, and we want to see that continue.”
Many foreign students want to train in the United States where costs are lower and access to training is more broadly available than in Europe and elsewhere. AOPA will be working with other aviation groups and the Small Business Administration to preserve, and hopefully expand, this training option.