In a reversal of existing policy that has been in place for 20 years, the Department of State (DOS) has determined that it will terminate the Exchange Visitor Program sponsor designations (J-1) of the eight current sponsors of flight training programs. The policy changes will take effect on June 1, 2010.

Since 1949, the DOS has designated certain entities to conduct training programs for eligible foreign nationals. For the past 20 years, flight training activities have been included in these training programs, and eight organizations are currently involved facilitating legal entry into the United States for the purpose of flight training. However, in December 2007, the DOS issued a Final Rule permitting the termination of certain programs that were determined to either no longer further the department’s public diplomacy mission or otherwise compromise the national security of the United States. Pursuant to this rule, the DOS has determined that the flight training programs involved in this program no longer further the public diplomacy mission of the department, nor does the DOS have the expertise or resources to fully monitor the flight training programs.

Note that with respect to an exchange visitor who already is in the United States at the time of the program termination, flight training sponsors must continue to fulfill their obligations until the exchange visitor’s program is completed. Sponsors must also notify prospective exchange visitors who have not yet entered the United States that the program has been terminated.