What are the visa types (H1b, L1b, H4, L2, J1, etc) accepted by TSA to learn flying for recreational purposes?


I found some further information from National association of flight instructors, According to them; Person on work visa can follow Part 61 course and get the PPL.


I have received the permission from the TSA to flow the Category 3 flight training. It took around 1 & 1/2 weeks to process and it will cost around 130 for the application and 99 for fingerprint process.

Based on this process, I understood that L1 Or L2 Or H1 Or H4 holders are eligible with the right set of document and no criminal record.

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    $\begingroup$ I got there on a F1 vor my PPL and Instrument rating $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 20:32

2 Answers 2


For a foreigner to come to USA to learn to fly, one would need an F-1 or M-1 visa.

This article in Flying magazine provides some information. You can get more information on from this school1. Also, you can look at this meta question: Can I ask about details of coming to the US to get a PPL?


It appears that you are already in the US on H-1b visa (it wasn't mentioned in the question), you need to go through the security clearances mentioned in Alien Flight Student Program (official version on TSA website).

AOPA has put together the related information (website). I also found about this flight school1 which has outlined the process.

If you search on Google about Alien Flight Student Program, you will find a ton of information.

1: Disclaimer I am not advertising any flight school.

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    $\begingroup$ Those visas are the primary student visa types, and would allow a foreigner to come to the U.S. specifically to attend a flight school (flight school is a "vocational training program" and so people coming specifically to get a pilot's license would probably get an M-1). Another possibility is an H-3, if you live in a country that has no aviation education facilities locally and you're not trying to become a commercial pilot. Immigrant visas leading to permanent residency would also qualify. You might also be able to train on your own time while in the U.S. on other business, such as an H1B. $\endgroup$
    – KeithS
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ KeithS, Do you have any reference for the statement of H1B holders can learn for the recreational purpose>? $\endgroup$
    – Vanji
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 21:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Vanji I've updated my answer as it appears you are already in the country. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 14:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Vanji - askacfi.com/9242/…. In short an H1B visa holder, like any, is subject to a TSA review process, but with their approval, any valid visa holder can receive flight instruction in the U.S. and obtain various levels of FAA pilot's license. It's a little unfeasible for vacation visa holders because the review process can take the entire time they're legal to be here, but just because you're in the U.S. for one reason doesn't mean that's the only thing you can legally do while you're here. $\endgroup$
    – KeithS
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ Great, thanks lot for informative answer. $\endgroup$
    – Vanji
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 17:24

You will probably need an M-1 visa for flight training, though you may also be permitted to do flight training on an F series visa (e.g. if it's in conjunction with a college aviation degree program).

This is not really a TSA matter (aside from the parts relevant to the Alien Flight Student Program), but rather a State Department matter. To confirm the specifics and determine which visa type is most appropriate for your planned course of study you should contact the state department (or the US embassy/consulate in your home country).


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