Foreign Flight Students To Lose Work-Study Option

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Work-study visas that allow foreign flight students to train and work in the U.S. will no longer be granted, effective June 2010, according to a new policy issued by the U.S. State Department. The current J-1 visa program allows foreign students to train in the U.S. and work as flight instructors to build flying time. Eight U.S. flight schools make use of the program, and some of them could lose up to half of their revenue once the program is eliminated, according to AOPA. "While this only impacts a small number of students, we are deeply disappointed that the State Department believes that flight training programs no longer further the public diplomacy mission of the United States," said Craig Spence, AOPA vice president of aviation security. "This country has long been a world leader in flight training, and we want to see that continue."

Lower costs and broader availability attract foreign students to the U.S. from Europe and elsewhere. The Department of State has stated that it does not have the expertise and resources to fully monitor flight training programs and ensure their compliance with national security concerns. AOPA said it will work to change the State Department policy before it takes effect in two years. The National Air Transportation Association also said it is currently in discussions about this issue with the Department of Homeland Security, flight training providers and the Small Business Administration.