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I'd like to ask about visa requirements for a UK citizen to come to the US to learn to fly, how that works, and if there are any gotcha's to be aware of.

Also, where a foreigner typically lives - e.g. hotels/motels/can you rent an apartment?

Is this sort of stuff on-topic here do we think?

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  • $\begingroup$ Most of those questions sound like topics for Travel to me. $\endgroup$ – Jon Ericson Mar 6 '15 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ Sounds pretty Travel-heavy, but you could certainly ask about TSA requirements (obnoxious), if flight schools help students find lodging (mine did, i don't know if most do), etc. $\endgroup$ – egid Mar 6 '15 at 0:59
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Visa requirements & finding lodgings would be off-topic for the main site as they're not really "aviation related" (some of it would fit on Travel, but stuff like what type of visa you'd need may be something you need to work out with a US flight school or Customs/Immigration.
You could definitely ask about all of this in chat though. (I also know there's a flight school out here on Long Island with almost exclusively foreign students & when you sign up for their program your tuition covers an apartment & a bunch of flight training/time - I don't know how they handle visas & such though…)

The other aspects of training (picking a school, US/International regulation differences, etc.) would of course be on-topic since there's not much of a difference between "Coming to the US to learn to fly" and "Living in the US and learning to fly", except a few TSA annoyances for "foreign flight training students".

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Although this question has been answered, here are some more details.

General Information
Read this article: Aliens and Non-U.S. Citizens Seeking Flight Training

Visa Information
UK participates in Visa Waiver Program. So you do not need visa for 90 days. However, I could not find any information if you need visa for flight training or not. TSA does mention that a visa is required (see this: Alien Flight Student Program), but they did not specify which visa type.

EDIT:
After more research, I found that you need either an F-1 or M-1 visa. It is also mentioned in magazine Flying.

Lodging
Where can a foreigner lives depends on how much money the foreigner has. We Americans respect and honor a rich foreigner the same way as a rich American. No discrimination.

Living expenses greatly varies where you are living. ATP Flight School provide housing for students, but they have a 6-month program from beginning to all the way to an airline pilot. You can contact them to inquire if they can just teach PPL. You can search for smaller flying schools to find out about the housing options they provide or have nearby.

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  • $\begingroup$ I couldn't find a definite reference about visas either, but AFAIK you do need one: the TSA process seems to assume you have one (or a green card) and the VWP only allows for 'minor' training courses that last a few days. Any significant training - and definitely anything that could be used for academic credit - isn't allowed under the VWP. The TSA 'helpfully' says that they have nothing to do with issuing visas so you need to check with the USCIS or your local embassy to find out which one you need for flight training. You'd think they should know something like that but I guess not. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Mar 8 '15 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife I guess the VWP is mainly a replacement of B1/B2 visas. For flight training, maybe F1 visa is required. $\endgroup$ – Farhan Mar 8 '15 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's exactly what the VWP is. The language around B1/B2/VWP is quite vague: "short-term training" is OK but "education" is not. Maybe it depends on how quickly Danny can do a PPL :-) $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Mar 9 '15 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife Also if Danny is just getting the training, not any education in his pursuit of the PPL. $\endgroup$ – Farhan Mar 12 '15 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ This looks like a an answer to the direct question, not the meta-question. $\endgroup$ – raptortech97 Mar 13 '15 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ @raptortech97 Maybe it is, but I'm grateful for it, since it's not gonna get asked on the main site :) $\endgroup$ – Danny Beckett Mar 23 '15 at 23:49
  • $\begingroup$ In no way meant to disparage you, but for anyone coming to the US for flight training since 9/11, I'd prepare for a pretty invasive background check. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Mar 24 '15 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the lodging paragraph ;-) $\endgroup$ – timbo Jul 12 '15 at 8:37

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