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Step 3: Get your Student VISA

Step 3: Get Your Student VISA

Once all of your enrollment paperwork has been submitted and all application eligibilities are met, you will receive an I-20 form which you will bring with you to your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for your student visa.

M-1 Visa Information

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.
  1. After all application eligibilities are met, you will be provided with an I-20 form, which will arrive at your permanent address, provided in your application.
  2. Once you receive your I-20 form, you must pay the $200 I-901 SEVIS fee online at Print and save your receipt. This fee maintains the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is non-refundable. This means that if your visa does not get approved, you will not get your money back.
  3. Call your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to make an appointment to apply for your student visa.

This process could take several weeks, depending on demand. To prepare for your appointment, you must bring the following:

  • A signed Form I-20 issued by your flight school
  • A completed application Form DS-156, together with a Form DS-158. Both forms must be completed and signed. Some applicants will also be required to complete and sign Form DS-157. Children need a separate form, even if they are included in a parent’s passport
  • A passport valid for at least six months after the proposed date of entry into the United States
  • One (1) 2”x2” photograph
  • A fee receipt to show payment of the visa application fee
  • A visa issuance fee if applicable (please consult this U.S. State Department page for more information on VISA fees)
  • A separate SEVIS I-901 fee receipt
Please visit to contact your local U.S. Embassy to ensure you have all the required documents and correct photo format.

New students:

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.
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