Do I need a visa to start training?

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries* to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Travelers must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel and meet all requirements explained on their website. If you prefer to have a visa in your passport, you may still apply for a visitor (B) visa.

Recreational (part-time) clients may train with us under a current visitor (B) visa or through the Visa Waiver Program as part of a tourist visit.

Full-time students coming to the United States with the primary purpose of training must obtain a student (M) visa to initiate training.

Can I train under my current student (F or M) visa?

Student visas for training must be obtained through the institution at which you’re receiving training. An M-1 student may only transfer programs within the first six months of arriving in the United States. The only exception to this is if you are unable to stay at a school because of circumstances beyond your control, such as if a school closes.

To transfer a current M-1 visa:

  • Apply and gain admission to another Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school that accepts M students in the same educational objective (contact us about your goals).
  • Tell your current designated school official (DSO) your plans to transfer, and provide the name of the transfer-in school and proof of acceptance by them. The DSO at you current school must change your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record to “transfer-out” status.
  • After this change, the DSO at Angel City Flyers can generate and print a new Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status.” If the SEVIS record at the current school is in Terminated status, the DSO at your transfer-in school will need to recommend you for reinstatement on the Form I-20.
  • Submit your request for approval to transfer with a Form I-539, “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status” and your new Form I-20 (signed by the Angel City Flyers DSO and you) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • If USCIS approves your transfer application, they will endorse the name of the new school on your Form I-20 and return it.

To be eligible to transfer, you must continue attending all of your classes at your current school while you are waiting to transfer. For an M student, that is until you have submitted you Form I-539 application for approval to transfer. While the Form I-539 is pending, M-1 students should enroll at for a course starting when indicated on the transfer Form I-20. It is important to maintain your status while waiting for USCIS adjudications.

See: U.S. Department of Homeland Security Instructions for Transferring to Another School as an M-1 Student

Current student (F) visas wishing to change status to a student (M) visa should follow steps outlined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and read the Form I-539 instructions carefully to ensure that your category is eligible.

How do I apply for a visa?

The first step is to apply to a SEVP-approved school in the United States (Angel City Flyers).  After the SEVP-approved school (Angel City Flyers) accepts your enrollment, you will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.  Angel City Flyers will issue you a Form I-20 mailed to your address.

Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.

After you receive the Form I-20 and register in SEVIS, you may apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a student (M) visa.  You must present the Form I-20 to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview.

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please consult the instructions on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website.

Complete the Online Visa Application:

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule an Interview:

Interviews are generally required for visa applicants with certain limited exceptions below. Consular officers may require an interview of any visa applicant.

You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early.

Be Prepared to Provide:

  • Signed I-20 Form issued by Angel City Flyers
  • Completed application Form DS-160
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months after date of entry to U.S.
  • One 2″ x 2″ (passport style) photo of you
  • Receipt showing payment of SEVIS I-901 fee

A consular officer will interview you to determine your qualifications for a student visa, and may request additional documents, such as evidence of:

  • Your academic preparation, such as:
    • Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended; and
    • Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school;
  • Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
  • How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.

Attend Your Visa Interview:

A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a student visa. You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visa.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken as part of the application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, the consular officer may determine that your application requires further administrative processing.  The consular officer will inform you if this is required.

After the visa is approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee (if applicable to your nationality), and make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you.  Review the visa processing times to learn more.

See: U.S. Department of State

When can you enter the U.S. on a student visa?

It varies.

New Students – Student (M) visas for new students can be issued up to 120 days in advance of the start date for a course of study.  However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States on your student visa more than 30 days before the start date.

Continuing Students – Student (M) visas for continuing students may be issued at any time, as long as the student is currently enrolled at a SEVP-approved school or institution and in SEVIS.  Continuing students may enter the United States at any time before classes start.

What are the costs?

There is a non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. If your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality.

Are there other requirements?

Most international clients will need to apply for TSA approval to initiate training whether they are traveling to the United States under the VWP, a visa, or have resident status.

Learn more about TSA requirements >>