International Flight Students – Obtaining a Visa
M1 Visa – The Process
There are two steps that need to be done before you can do any helicopter flight training in the United States.
1. Obtain an M‐1 visa.
2. Register with the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA).
Each process can take 2‐4 weeks although there are ways to help speed up the process.
What is an M‐1 visa?
The M‐1 visa is a type of student visa reserved for vocational and technical schools. To obtain an M‐1 visa for traveling to the United States, a student must present a signed Form I‐20 at a United States embassy or consulate in his home country. The I‐20 is issued by a designated school official, after the student has fulfilled a school’s admissions requirements and presented proof of financial resources.
M‐1 students are admitted into the United States for a fixed time period. When they cross the border, their I‐94 departure cards are stamped with a date, unlike students with an F‐1 visa. They may stay for the length of their training program, however their stay may not exceed one year unless they are granted an extension. If a student violates his status by, for example, not maintaining a full course of study, he is not eligible for the grace period.
Students in M‐1 status may not work on or off campus while studying, and they may not change their status to F‐1. The F visa is reserved for non‐immigrants wishing to pursue academic studies and/or language training programs. F‐1 visas are given only through academic institutions. Vocational education is not included in F‐1 visa; for vocational education, an M visa should be obtained.
How do I know if I need an M‐1 visa?
An individual legally living in another country who wishes to do formal flight training in the United States, or if your stay is over 90 days.
If you are visiting the U.S. and wish to do a few hours of refresher flying, hour building or a Biannual flight review, you do not need an M‐1 visa, as long as your stay is less than 90 days and you are not doing a formal flight training program.
What is the process for obtaining an M‐1 visa?
1. Complete and return Elite Helicopter enrollment form. (Click here for enrollment form)
2. Submit proof of funds to cover your training and living expenses while attending Elite Helicopters.
3. Pay a $250.00 nonrefundable Elite Helicopter enrollment fee. Once payment has been received, we will send you the Form I‐20 you will need to take to the U.S. Embassy.
4. Fill out the I901 for on the SEVIS website and pay the fee.
5. Schedule an appointment with the U.S. Embassy. You will need your SEVIS student number (which is found on the Form I‐20) and the receipt for the I901.
What do I take to my appointment with the U.S. Embassy?
1. The Form I‐20 issued by Elite Helicopters.
2. Letter of acceptance from Elite Helicopters.
3. A valid passport accompanied by one 2×2 photograph.
4. Complete application Form DS‐156, DS‐158 and DS‐157 (if required).
5. I 901 receipt which shows payment of the visa application fee.
What is the TSA and why do I have to register?
The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has set forth new regulations for non‐U.S. Citizens to conduct flight training. The mission of the Alien Flight Student Program is to ensure that Non‐U.S. Citizen candidates seeking training at flight schools regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) do not pose a threat to aviation or national security.
How do I know if I need to register with the TSA?
Any person who is not a U.S. Citizen and does not hold an FAA license wishing to do initial training for their Private license or their Instrument rating.
If you hold an FAA Private license and have already registered with the TSA, you do not need to reregister to complete your Commercial license. You will only need to reregister if you choose to do Instrument training.
How do I start my request for training?
If you are a flight training candidate, you will need to create a new account through the following website: https://www.flightschoolcandidates.gov
Prior to becoming enrolled at Elite Helicopters, you will need to obtain a student identification number. This student ID number is your TSA authorization to begin your flight training. To obtain that number, you must create a new account through the above web address. Scroll to the bottom of the above webpage and click on “new account”. If you should have questions throughout the application process please view the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) link or you can contact the Alien Flight Student Program Help Desk at:
It is important to understand that a U.S. flight school is prevented from providing flight training to a Non‐U.S. Citizen unless the alien has submitted required information to the TSA, and the TSA has determined that the Non‐U.S. Citizen does not pose a threat to aviation or national security.
What information will I need to complete the TSA process?
You will need to complete the TSA back ground check procedure before starting your flight training. Once registered you will receive an email from the TSA with your user name and password. Now you can log in and begin to fill in TSA information.
Please upload or fax passport copy to the TSA and get the finger printing instructions before coming to the USA as this will save time and allow you to commence your training sooner. Once you have registered you will receive email from TSA with your user name and password. Now you can log in and begin to fill in TSA information. Again if you would like we would be glad to guide you through this process.