AOPA has compiled easy to understand information concerning TSA’s Flight Training Security Program (FTSP). Below you will find information on applicability, step by step guidance on submitting a request for flight training, and answers to frequently asked questions Information on this page applies to non-U.S. citizens who wish to conduct flight training in an aircraft weighing less than 12,500 (typically under a Category 3 training request).
For more information, contact AOPA’s Pilot Information Center at 1-800-USA-AOPA. Any questions about the FTSP may also be directed to the FTSP Help Desk at (571) 227-1004 or [email protected].Please review TSA’s Help Desk guidelines before contacting the Help Desk.
You must participate in the Flight Training Security Program and undergo a security threat assessment if you are a non-U.S. citizen (includes lawful permanent residents), and:
Flight training in the operation of airships, balloons, and gliders are exempted from the TSA security threat assessment. (reference)
NOTE: Information on this page applies only to non-U.S. citizen and non-U.S. national training in aircraft with a maximum certificate takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less. If you are training in an aircraft exceeding this weight readTSA Background Checks for Training in Aircraft over 12,500.
As a non-U.S. citizen or non-U.S. national, you are NOT required to participate in the FTSP and undergo a security threat assessment if:
If this rule applies to you, follow the steps below before you begin flight training. Click on the steps for further information.
The FTSP will deny flight training requests from candidates who are present in the U.S. illegally or who do not have an appropriate visa for flight training (fees paid for denied applications will not be refunded). Moreover, taking flight training without an appropriate visa could be a violation of your immigration status and could result in your arrest and removal from the United States. See Nonimmigrants: Who Can Study? published by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
Note: Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) of the United States are not required to have a visa.
If you do not possess the correct visa, or if you have questions pertaining to your visa status or the appropriate visas for flight training, please check with DHS. If you are trying to obtain a visa from outside the U.S., you can find contact information on the website of the
You should notify the flight training provider in advance that you intend to start flight training because the provider also needs to register online with TSA before you begin flight training. Additional information about provider registration may be found here.
If the flight training provider is already registered with TSA, it might be useful to bring all required documents and information for the application to the provider and register there, as you will have to include training event details on your application. This will allow the provider to assist you in uploading required documents to TSA and also to make copies for the provider’s record-keeping requirements.
FTSP will communicate with you primarily by email, so you should have a valid email address that you are able to check frequently.
Visit TSA’s FTSP website at and create login account by clicking on “Create New Student Account” and following the instructions.
A user ID will be provided immediately after you submit the required information, and a password will be sent to you via email. Time may vary on receiving the password – possibly 24-48 hours. Follow the email instructions, including changing your password.
You can learn more about creating and managing your account by going online.
Log into your account on the TSA portal and continue the application process. The TSA Application Guide tab, at the top of the FTSP website, describes the information you will be required to submit, including background information, passport and visa information, and training details. In addition, they stress the importance of making sure your uploaded documents are legible.
Upon completion of the application, you will be prompted to click on the “validate and submit” icon. If any errors appear in the application, you will be instructed to make any necessary corrections or complete any missing information.
After making any changes, click on “submit application.” For the application to proceed further, you must select “I agree” or “I disagree” after reviewing important information regarding your application.
Your security threat assessment request status will be available through your account on the FTSP candidate home page. Each training event you have entered into the system will be listed in the Current Flight Training Applications section of the FTSP home page after login. You can find descriptions of each status type on the web site.
Note: you may cancel a security threat assessment that is in the Draft status by going to Step 7 of the request, clicking on the Edit link for that request, and clicking the “Delete Training Request” button.
The flight training provider must acknowledge your training request before your application proceeds further. TSA will send the flight training provider an email requesting confirmation of your training request after it has been submitted.
Once the flight training provider confirms your request, you will be e-mailed instructions to pay the $130 processing fee by credit card on TSA’s website. Click here for guidance and information regarding the processing fee payment.
Upon receiving payment, TSA will email both you and the flight training provider an email with the subject “Preliminary Approval.” THIS DOES NOT GRANT YOU PERMISSION TO RECEIVE TRAINING. This email simply confirms that TSA has received the application and fee, but they still need to receive your fingerprints. After TSA has received your fingerprints, if you do not receive the preliminary decision within 7 business days, contact the TSA Help Desk at [email protected].
If the decision is NOT favorable, you will be provided details regarding any information that may be missing from your request. If your request was returned because of insufficient information, you will receive an email notification. You may return to your account on the FTSP website, select the training request for which you received the email notification, and review the information for its accuracy and completeness. Make any changes needed, and resubmit your training request. On resubmission, the flight training provider does not need to validate your request again, and you do not have to pay another $130 USD processing fee.
If the decision is favorable, see the next step.
If the preliminary decision is favorable and a successful payment has been verified, you will receive an email from FTSP with the subject “Fingerprint Instructions.” Although you may receive a notification from pay.gov for successful payment, your training request will not be processed by FTSP until the payment is verified by TSA and you have been sent the “Fingerprint Instructions” email. Do NOT submit fingerprints prior to paying for your training request and receiving the official FTSP fingerprinting instructions. This will result in the invalidation of your fingerprints and the cancellation of your associated training request(s). The fingerprints will not be applied to any current or future training request. You and the provider will receive an email notifying you that the fingerprints are invalid, the training request(s) is/are canceled, and what steps need to be taken to resolve the problem to complete processing through the FTSP.
If you have previously submitted fingerprints and received confirmation of fingerprint receipt for a prior FTSP training request (i.e. you are applying for additional flight training), you are not required to resubmit fingerprints. TSA will use the fingerprints already on file for you, if possible. Fingerprints will continue to be transferred to new flight training requests only if you use the same account (pin) number that was used for the initial flight training request.
Interactive lists of domestic and international fingerprinting locations are available from:
The prints can be taken either electronically or by the provided forms. Be sure to bring the following items to the fingerprinting appointment:
Visit TSA's Fingerprint process FAQs, and Instructions to Fingerprint Collector for additional guidance on the fingerprint process.
There are several factors that affect the amount of time between training request submission and response. As a category 3 candidate (training in aircraft less than 12,500 lbs.), TSA will make a final determination as to your eligibility to receive flight training and will notify you and the flight training provider of its decision.
Once you have permission to train, you have 180 days to begin training and 365 days to complete the approved training. Both of these time periods start from the day you receive approval. For example, if you begin flight training 30 days after you have been approved, you now have 335 days to finish. If you do not finish, a new training request must be submitted.
The flight training provider will be required to upload this photo – not one copied from your passport or other identification – to TSA’s website. See AOPA’s guidance to flight training providers for further instructions.
Non-U.S. citizen or non-U.S. national seeking flight training in an aircraft with a MTOW of 12,500 pounds or less qualify as a Category 3 candidate. A brief explanation of the four categories (starting with Category 3, since it is the one most commonly asked about):
Category 3 - Candidates who seek flight training in the operation of aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less for the following training events:
Each of these training events requires a separate training request. Note: Category 3 Rotorcraft Requirements - Candidates who seek flight training in the operation of rotorcraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less are subject to the above Category 3 clarification. Candidates must obtain approval for the initial license, instrument rating or multi-engine rating if the pilot does not hold a fixed-wing equivalent.
Category 1 – Regular processing for type-rated aircraft flight training. Candidates who seek flight training in the operation of aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight (MTOW) greater than 12,500 pounds, but who do not fall into Category 2.
Category 2 – Expedited processing for type-rated aircraft flight training. Candidates who seek flight training in the operation of aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight (MTOW) greater than 12,500 pounds, and who: Are employed by a foreign air carrier that operates under 14 CFR part 1546; Have unescorted access authority to a secured area of an airport under U.S.C 44936(a)(1)(A)(ii),49 CFR 1542.229; Are a flight crew member who has successfully completed a criminal history records check in accordance with 49 CFR 1544.230; or Hold an airman's certificate that is recognized by the FAA or appropriate US military agency, with a type rating for a multi-engine aircraft that has a certificated takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or more.
Category 4 – Recurrent for type-rated aircraft Candidates who seek recurrent training in the operation of aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight (MTOW) greater than 12,500 pounds, and are current and qualified on the aircraft for which they are requesting training. These training requests are submitted by the flight training providers.
No. If done correctly the first time, additional flight training does not require resubmitting additional fingerprints. However, you must use the same account (pin) number that you used for your initial flight training request in order for this exemption to apply.
TSA has clarified that getting a U.S. certificate based on a foreign license ( reference FAR 61.75) does not apply to the requirements of the rule. However, if you choose to apply for a “stand-alone” FAA pilot certificate no longer based on your foreign license, you must comply with this rule. The TSA views this as receiving an initial FAA pilot certificate and qualifies under the TSA definition of flight training.
You are generally required to have a passport, but there are some people with very special circumstances who cannot obtain a passport. Generally, these are asylum seekers, refugees, or persons who may have been paroled into the United States. TSA will handle these situations on a case-by-case basis. Contact AOPA’s Pilot Information Center at 1-800-USA-AOPA or the TSA Help Desk for further guidance.
Yes. The rule applies to any flight training conducted in the U.S. It also applies to those pursuing a U.S. airman certificate outside the United States with a provider that is providing flight training under 14 CFR.