Admission for an international student and career thereafter

Hello experts,

I am an international non-immigrant student, currently on F1 Visa. I have a Bachelor’s in Mechanical and also a Master’s from US following that. I have always wanted to pursue a commercial pilot career and I wish to make the move.

Before I do that, I wanted to know if anyone can help me with following. What are the limitations for a student like myself to get into this field, pursue a career according to FAA guidelines (if there are any, at all.) Does ATP have any admission restrictions with that, and upon graduating and gaining hours, would the airlines (generally speaking) likely have a restriction for hiring a non-citizen?

Appreciate your time and help. Thanks.


In order to work as a pilot in the US (that includes instructing to build time all the way to the airlines) you must either be a citizen or have permanent resident status.


Thanks for your response @Adam. Well, what about if I get my training and CPL in a flight school based in the US, and then get a job in some other country? In that case, would I need to undergo a license transfer? (In short, what countries that you know of accept FAA certification?)

I am researching my prospects of getting trained at a good flight school and getting internationally recognized certifications to avoid having to undergo license transfers later on. (Let me know if that makes sense) Any guidance is appreciated!



US states pilot licenses are issued by the FAA which is a US govt agency. If you fly elsewhere you will need to get a license transfer. For some countries that’s easier than other but you will need to convert and you’ll still need to build your time.


I would suggest that you contact the countries that you are interested in flying for and ask them directly what their requirements are.

To my knowledge, there is no one set of “internationally recognized certifications.”


Thank you, @Adam and @Chris.

Do you know of any annual event/ meetups/ fairs in USA… a place where I can meet industry professionals at one place and get involved in discussions with them, build my network?

The groups Women In Aviation and the organization of Black Airline pilots come to mind.

But there really is no network for you to build until you have resolved your citizenship status. Flight time and licenses matter a lot more than networking.

Right, I understand. Citizenship is something out of my control that I cannot help myself with at this point. So, building a network not for the sake of landing an airline job but just to get in touch with like-minded people, share stories, get motivated and find out different options that I can shortlist and pursue.
But, thanks for the 2 organizations you mentioned. :slight_smile:

The Northwest Aviation Career Forum is another one:


Perfect. Thanks @Tory!

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You could also check out AOPA.