Our visa program sets us apart.
Our F-1 visa program provides international students with up to two years of work authorization post-training in order to build the flight hours that employers seek.
As one of the largest flight schools in the United States, Hillsboro Aero Academy has trained students from more than 75 countries. We bring that deep experience to helping international students navigate the enrollment and visa process, all the way through the completing the training program and finding employment. We are approved to offer student visas through our accredited school, Airman’s Proficiency Center, which is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
We’re proud to offer international students the choice between the F-1 and M-1 visa. Very few flight schools are approved for the F-1 visa which allows you to build employment experience as a pilot in the U.S., usually as a Certified Flight Instructor, upon completion of your training.
The F-1 visa program is designed for professional pilot training, either airplane or helicopter, from zero hours to initial flight instructor rating. The F-1 visa is issued for 18 months for both the professional pilot airplane and helicopter programs and may be extended if the training is not completed with valid reasons. Students on the F-1 visa may take vacation after training for one academic year according to the government regulation (SEVIS), which is 26 weeks. Upon completion of the CFI rating, students may apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Students are required to have a pilot job prior to applying for CPT. CPT will be approved in three month increments for a maximum of 11.5 months. Ninety (90) days prior to completion of CPT, the student may apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Once the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) has been received, the OPT period is 12 additional months, and the student may apply for work as a commercial pilot in the United States. If employment is not started within 90 days of the start date on the EAD, the student’s visa will automatically be ended and they must leave the country. The student must leave the country within 60 days after expiration of the EAD. CPT/OPT may be an internship as a pilot at Hillsboro Aero Academy or an externship at another flight school or aviation company.
The M-1 visa 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 nominal fee. When on an M-1 visa, a student cannot change to an F-1 (academic) or employment visa.
International Enrollment Steps
Visit the Apply webpage and complete the necessary steps to submit your application. Once you have received an acceptance letter, pay the Registration Fee, pay the I-20 Processing Fee, and move to Step 2 of this process.
The TSA Foreign Flight Training Rule requires that all non-U.S. citizens (including those with a Green Card) planning to do any kind of flight training in any type of aircraft (airplane/helicopter/flight simulator) that could be used towards their Initial FAA Certificate (Private/Commercial, etc.), Instrument Rating or Multi-Engine Rating complete the process outlined below. The information you provide will be used to perform a background check. This process must begin within six months or less before you will start your flight training. Once notification of Preliminary Approval (Documentation Accepted) is received from TSA, the flight school then may issue the form I–20 and, if the student is issued a Visa, may initiate the student’s ground instruction.
- Create an account at flightschoolcandidates.gov/home
- Select “Register” in the upper right corner
- You must have your passport or Green Card information to register (contact HAA if you have refugee/asylee status)
- You will be issued a user ID and password for the TSA website which you must keep for use for additional training
- Once logged in, select “Update Personal Information” to begin your application. The following is information you will need to have ready:
- Full name, including any aliases or variations in spelling; use only English letters, do not use special characters
- Date of birth
- Identifying information such as gender, height, weight, hair, and eye color
- Country of birth, current country or countries of citizenship, and each previous country of citizenship
- Starting and ending dates of each citizenship
- Current pilot certificate(s) and certificate number(s), if any
- Passport, I-20, and US visa images, and information, including all current and previous passports, I-20s, and, US visas held
- Current address and telephone number, as well as each address held for longer than 30 days for the five years prior to the date of the application
- Employment history, including employer contact information (check the box if you are not currently employed)
- Training information – TSA requires candidates to register for training toward their initial FAA certificate, Instrument Rating, and Multi-Engine Rating (airplane students only). You must register only for the next rating you intend to pursue. AIRPLANE COURSES
|Course ID#||Class Name||Aircraft Type|
|Private Pilot Certificate||FWPP1||Category 3 – Initial License||C152 C172|
|Instrument Rating||FWIR2||Category 3 – Instrument Rating||C152 C172 PA34 PA44|
|Multi-Engine Rating||FWMER3||Category 3 – Multi-Engine Rating||PA34 PA44|
|Course ID#||Class Name||Aircraft Type|
|Private Pilot Certificate||RWPP1||Category 3 – Initial License||R22 R44|
|Instrument Rating||RWIR2||Category 3 – Instrument Rating||R22 R44|
- Estimated start date (Orientation Date) and end date of flight training. Please note that you cannot request a course training period for more than 364 days.
- REMEMBER TO SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION. In order for HAA to issue and ship your I-20 (the necessary paperwork to apply for your Visa) you must pay the Registration Fee, pay the I-20 Processing Fee, and submit AND pay for your TSA application.
- TSA applications can take from a few days to several months to process. View processing periods at https://flightschoolcandidates.gov/home. If you have any questions regarding when to apply for TSA, call +1- 503-726-3000 and ask to speak with HAA’s TSA Advisor. Hillsboro Aero Academy will validate your training request within three months prior to the estimated start date provided on your application. Once validated, the TSA directs you to pay a $130 USD fee which covers the cost of the background/security check. This does not cover the cost of fingerprinting. Your application will not begin processing until payment is recevied.
- Check your email frequently for any messages from the TSA. If something is missing or incorrect on your application, the process does not continue until you make the corrections required and resubmit your application.
- After the TSA accepts all of the above information, you and Hillsboro Aero Academy are notified that your documentation has been accepted. This email also provides approval to send TSA your fingerprints (see next step).
- You must have your fingerprints taken at a TSA-approved location and sent to the TSA. This needs to be done only one time, regardless of the number of times you enter the US for training (as long as you use the same account each time). You will be sent a fingerprinting instruction about one week before orientation date. If you will be in the U.S. for a limited period of time, check for approved fingerprint collectors near you so you can have Flight Approval before you arrive in the U.S. If you go fingerprinting outside the U.S., ensure your application has Documentation Accepted status, the fingerprint card is filled out satisfying TSA’s requirements, and that you and the fingerprint official sign the fingerprint cards in the correct fields. Note that there have been complications with TSA processing fingerprint cards if TSA’s guidelines are not followed by the applicant and fingerprint collector.
- Upon arrival to the school, we must verify your passport, application status, and take your picture to send to TSA.
- TSA notifies you and Hillsboro Aero Academy of flight approval once your application is complete, including your fingerprints. You can then begin flight training. If the background check determines you are a risk, flight training must stop immediately.
- Verify all information is correct on I-20 and sign the bottom of page 1
- Pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee before your Embassy appointment. It’s required in order for the Department of State to issue you a visa. To pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee, visit FMJfee.com to access the SEVIS Form I-901. Watch the I-901 SEVIS Fee payment tutorial to learn about each step of the payment process. Please click here for information on how to pay the fee.
- Once you have your I-20, make an appointment for your visa interview. Click here to find a US Embassy near you. Many embassies recommend that appointments be made no more than 90 days from the intended date of travel, but some can make earlier arrangements for interviews.
- Pay the visa application fee by following instructions on your local US Embassy’s website.
- Complete the form DS-160 Online. The DS-160 Online, Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, replaces previous nonimmigrant application forms. Be sure to write down your application number as you get started and save the application periodically.
- Length of stay in the U.S.: M-1—I-20 length; F-1—3 years
- Address in US: Hillsboro Aero Academy’s address, 3565 NE Cornell Rd, Hillsboro, OR 97124
- SEVIS ID is found at the top right of your Form I-20
- Prepare and bring the following to your visa interview:
- A passport valid for at least six months after your intended departure from the US
- Form I-20 (sign the form on page 1)
- School admission letter
- DS-160 Online bar code page
- One 2”x 2” photograph
- Receipt for the visa application fee
- Receipt for the SEVIS fee, if you have not received an official receipt in the mail showing payment and you or Hillsboro Aero Academy have paid the fee electronically, the embassy will accept the temporary receipt printed from your computer or sent to you by Hillsboro Aero Academy
- Financial evidence showing you have sufficient funds to cover your training and living expenses during your intended study period
- Information proving that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the United States which may include proof of property, family, or other ties to your community
- You may check the status of your visa here.
- Once you have your visa, be sure to verify that you received the correct visa type (M-1 or F-1). If you did not, contact the embassy where you had your visa interview to have it corrected. Do not enter the US with an incorrect visa type.
- After completing your interview at the US Embassy, make the necessary travel arrangements.
- Contact the Hillsboro Aero Academy admissions department to confirm your arrival date and schedule an airport pick-up, if needed.
Arrive at the Portland International Airport (PDX) and be transported to your student housing.
You will be assigned a day for orientation before you arrive. HAA recommends planning your arrival around the orientation day you are assigned because you are required to attend orientation. On that day, come to the school to get officially enrolled, meet with other new students, learn more about the training program, and get a tour.