Foreign pilot training and work in the US/Canada

Hello everybody,

I’m new to this forum and want to thank you all for your very informative posts. I have been reading many of them already and learned alot. Nevertheless, there are some questions left which I would like to ask at the end of this post.

First, I’d like to introduce myself: I am a 43 years old German citizen, working at a German university as a senior lecturer in linguistics. With all of you I share the fascination for flying and aviation. I started gliding when I was 15, then turned to paragliding when I was 17. In 2008, I completed training in powered paragliding and at the moment I’m working on my PPL(A)-license at a flying club in Germany.

So, what do I want here? My wish to become a professional pilot is very old, but because of various reasons it never came this far. When I started gliding in 1990 I did this as a preparation for becoming a pilot later. I loved it but just before my first solo my FI sent me to an AME in order to get my medical. So, I went there and surprisingly the AME refused to give me a medical because he thought that something is wrong with my heart. I was devastated and gave up about gliding and the idea of becoming a pilot. Two years later I started paragliding instead (here you don’t need a medical). In the following years, I was doing lots of sports and ran even a few marathons. I never had any heart problems and so I asked myself: Was this doctor perhaps wrong about my heart? I went to a cardiologist, told him my story and asked him to check my cardio vascular system thoroughly. Result: He couldn’t find anything strange, nothing. I was 32 then and immediately thought about giving it another try with an aviation career, although I already had started my career in academia. So, I went to an AME, everything was (of course) fine with my heart. But now my eyes where suddenly the problem. I learned that I hardly have any stereo vision which according to EASA-regulations is a knock-out criterion for a class I medical. Disappointed again I returned to university and linguistics - more or less motivated. As my income got better during the following years I could afford to go into PPL-training at a local flying club. As a student pilot, I needed a class II medical. When I went to the AME to get it I found out that the guy is also a FAA-certified AME. I got curious and asked him to check me for a FAA class I medical. He did and I got the medical without any problem. He even said that I could also get a class I medical for Canada. Wow!!!

This was about 1 year ago. Since then my wish to become a professional pilot is alive again and I’m thinking about giving it a try in the US or in Canada. My current contract at university will still last for 1-1,5 years, after that I could do the cut and go for it. Until then I will have saved up about 90.000 USD, I will have my (European) PPL completed, and I could start pilot training either in the US or in Canada. As I love to share what fascinates me, I would also be very interested in becoming a FI. I’m aware that there are two major problems here: 1) Meanwhile I’m quite old, 2) I’m neither a Canadian nor a US citizen and would have to get a residence and working permit for one of the two countries, which will not be easy.

So, after having written almost a novel, here are finally my questions:

  1. Do you think that I have a chance to succeed with my plan?
  2. At my place, would you rather give it a try in the US or in Canada?
  3. Until I leave Europe in 1-1,5 years, should I already go for flight training as often as I can here or should I rather save the money and do all the training and hour building in the US/Canada?

Thanks a lot for your help, and sorry for my bumpy English. It will become better once I have been in an English-speaking environment for a while.



To work as a pilot in the US, you either need to be a US citizen or permanent legal resident (green card), work permits will not suffice. Until you are able to obtain either of those, your plan will not work at all. I am not sure about qualifications to work in Canada, you would need to speak with somebody that is an authority there.



thanks alot for this very clear information, although it is of course quite disappointing. I didn’t expect the regulations in the US to be that strict. Unfortunately I don’t see a realistic way to obtain a green card or even US citizenship in the near future. The regulations in Canada seem to be more promising, as far as I could find out: You can get a “post-graduation work permit” there if you have done either of the following:

“They have completed a flight training course at a DLI training centre and obtained a Canadian commercial pilot’s license.”
“They have obtained or are in the process of obtaining an instructor’s rating and have received an offer of employment as a flight instructor from a DLI flight training centre in Canada.”


So I’ll probably give it a try in Canada…