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11 July 2008

[Federal Register: July 11, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 134)]
[Page 40008]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



[Public Notice: 6284]

 Exchange Visitor Program--Termination of Flight Training 

ACTION: Statement of Policy.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stanley S. Colvin, Deputy Assistant 
Secretary, Office of Private Sector Exchange, Bureau of Educational and 
Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, SA-44, 301 4th St., SW., 
Room 734, Washington, DC 20547. E-mail:; FAX: 202-
SUMMARY: Since 1949 the Department of State (Department) has designated 
private sector and governmental entities to conduct training programs 
for eligible foreign nationals. For the past twenty years, such 
programs have included flight training activities. Currently, eight 
organizations facilitate the entry into the United States of 
approximately 350 foreign nationals annually for the purpose of flight 
training under the aegis of the Exchange Visitor Program and its J-
visa. Regulations dealing specifically with flight training programs 
appear at 22 CFR 62.22(o).
    These eight Department of State designated flight schools are also 
certified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue the 
Form I-20, which is needed to obtain an M visa. Regulations governing 
the M visa appear at 8 CFR 214.2(m). DHS is also responsible for the 
security-related screening of all alien flight training candidates. 
Regulations governing flight training candidate screening appear at 49 
CFR 1552. In January 2006, the Department issued a Statement of Policy 
on J-1 Flight Training Programs (71 FR 3913, January 24, 2006) 
providing notice that it would henceforth not designate any new J visa 
flight training program sponsors; nor would it allow currently-
designated flight training programs to expand their programs, pending a 
determination as to which Federal agency ultimately would assume sole 
responsibility for administering and monitoring these programs.
    In April 2006, the Department published proposed modifications to 
its regulations governing the Exchange Visitor Program's trainee 
category, including flight training. In response to this proposed rule 
and by letter dated May 30, 2006, the Office of Advocacy of the Small 
Business Administration opined, that if adopted, the Department's 
proposed modifications to 22 CFR 62.22(o), could have significant 
impact on a substantial number of small entities, in particular, flight 
training schools that sponsor alien flight candidates entering the 
United States on the J visa. Given this comment, the Department did not 
modify then existing flight training regulations when it adopted its 
Interim Final rule (72 FR 33669, June 19, 2007).
    In December 2007, the Department published a Final Rule (72 FR 
72245, December 20, 2007) that permits the termination of designated 
programs that the Department determines no longer further its public 
diplomacy mission or compromises the national security of the United 
States (22 CFR 62.62). In adopting this provision, the Department 
explained that the Exchange Visitor Program is the cornerstone of the 
Department's public diplomacy efforts and integral to the furtherance 
of the President's Constitutional prerogatives in conducting foreign 
affairs (72 FR 62112). Pursuant to this regulatory authority, the 
Department hereby determines that all flight training programs no 
longer further the public diplomacy mission of the Department, and 
accordingly, effective June 1, 2010, the Department will terminate the 
Exchange Visitor Program sponsor designations of all eight sponsors of 
flight training programs.
    The Department's decision to eliminate flight training from the 
Exchange Visitor Program is based on thorough consideration and 
deliberation. As explained in its January 2006 Statement of Policy, the 
Department does not have the expertise and resources to monitor fully 
flight training programs and ensure their compliance with the national 
security concerns that underlie the Patriot Act (Pub. L. 107-56). 
Further, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 (49 
U.S.C. 44939), assigns to the Attorney General discretion to request a 
wide variety of information from alien flight candidates in order to 
determine whether such flight candidates present a threat to aviation 
or national security. In light of this statutory directive, DHS issued 
an Interim Final Rule on September 20, 2004, assigning full 
responsibility for the screening of alien flight training candidates to 
DHS. Finally, all Department designated flight training sponsors are 
certified by the Department of Homeland Security to issue the Form I-20 
and thereby permit foreign nationals to participate in flight training 
programs under the M visa. As all eight existing Department of State 
designated sponsors may continue, without interruption, the 
administration of flight training programs for foreign nationals, the 
Department believes that concerns raised by the Office of Advocacy of 
the Small Business Administration are outweighed by the security 
interests of the Government. The Department's position is sound given 
the expertise of DHS to administer and monitor such programs, 
efficiencies of government operation, and the security issues inherent 
in flight training.
    The flight training sponsors will continue to have obligations to 
their exchange visitors pursuant to 22 CFR 62.63: they must fulfill 
their responsibilities to all exchange visitors who are in the United 
States at the time of their program termination until the individual's 
exchange program is completed. Also, sponsors must notify prospective 
exchange visitors who have not yet entered the United States that the 
program has been terminated. Such sponsors will have access to SEVIS to 
manage their existing program participants, but will not be able to 
initiate new programs after December 31, 2009.

    Dated: June 30, 2008.
Stanley S. Colvin,
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Private Sector Exchange, Bureau 
of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of State.
 [FR Doc. E8-15454 Filed 7-10-08; 8:45 am]