Advocacy Groups Like AOPA Trying To Ease The Impact
As of now, any non-US citizen who is
beginning training for a new certificate or rating in any size
powered aircraft must be cleared by the Transportation Security
Administration, including those who have previously held pilot
certificates. This alien flight training rule applies even to
resident aliens with a "green card."
And the rule also applies to US citizens as well. That's because
flight instructors and flight schools are required to check a
student's citizenship before providing training for any new
certificate or rating.
"We expect that the TSA will soon announce some changes that
AOPA advocated that will make this rule less intrusive," said Andy
Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of Government and Technical
Affairs. "We also pushed very hard for TSA to treat resident aliens
the same as citizens, but TSA refuses to budge on that issue."
Despite the fact that resident aliens have been investigated and
fingerprinted by US immigration services, TSA doesn't have
confidence that the process has weeded out potential
"Neither do some members of Congress," said Cebula. "We
understand that many AOPA members are resident aliens and have been
loyal to this country for years. But Congress and the Department of
Homeland Security are adamant about treating all non-US citizens
the same way when it comes to flight training."
This lack of confidence can be
attributed, in part, to the fiasco that ensued when six months
after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) sent student visa
approval forms for terrorists Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi to
the Florida flight school where they had trained. The INS was
reorganized and absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security
and renamed US Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2003.
For flight instructors, the rule means that they are required to
check the citizenship of any student applying for training for a
new certificate or rating. AOPA had successfully lobbied to get
recurrent training and proficiency checks excluded from the
AOPA was also successful in obtaining an exemption to the rule
for US citizens that allows instructors to make a simple logbook
entry to show that they have checked citizenship, rather than
having to maintain copies of the student's proof-of-citizenship
papers for five years.
Flight instructors and flight
schools training non-US citizens have to be approved by the TSA.
Training providers can register online with the TSA. All flight
instructors must also complete initial security awareness training
by January 18, 2005, regardless whether they are training foreign
nationals or not.
Non-US citizens taking any type of flight training in a powered
aircraft, regardless of size, (gliders, balloons, and airships are
exempt) must get TSA approval and pay a $130 application fee. They
also have to submit their fingerprints and a photo to TSA. Flight
training providers have to verify with TSA that the student has
been approved for training.
Complete details of who the TSA's Alien Flight
Training/Citizenship Validation Rule applies to and how to comply
with the rule are available in AOPA's online guide.