The M-1 Visa is the one most commonly issued to students attending flight schools across the U.S. It is used for both short-term vocational education experiences, e.g. Private or Commercial Pilot Certificates, as well as full professional pilot programs.
The M-1 Visa may be issued for a maximum of 12 months, but you may apply for an extension of up to 12 months (for a fee). While on an M-1 Visa, a student may not work. Further, a student cannot change to can F-1 (academic) or employment visa while remaining in the United States. This means it is not impossible to change your nonimmigrant status. However, a student is required to leave the U.S. and go back to their home country where they will re-apply for an issuance of the new visa status.
This process could take several weeks, depending on demand. To prepare for your appointment, you must bring the following:
Please visit usembassy.gov or contact your local U.S. Embassy to ensure you have all the required documents and correct photo format.
Student visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your intended study start date. However, you are only allowed to enter the U.S. 30 days prior to the start of your academic program.
For students from Canada or Bermuda:
You are not required to obtain a VISA to enter the U.S. for flight training. Therefore, the process shown above only applies to you up through Step 2; please disregard Step 3. Please note that you are still required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and obtain proof of payment.