Foreign (Non-U.S. Citizen) A&P Applicants

Applicants for a mechanic certificate must meet all the same requirements as their counterparts in the United States, and must be able to read, write, speak, and understand English.

It’s simple supply and demand. U.S. registered business and general aviation aircraft are increasingly both operated and based around the world. Just as in the United States, servicing and maintenance for these aircraft require technicians who hold an FAA A&P mechanic certificate.

The need for local technicians overseas who hold an A&P certificate is not just due to U.S. air carriers maintaining aircraft in foreign countries. Even an overseas maintenance provider holding an FAA repair station certificate may require many technicians hold an FAA A&P certificate. This is especially true for inspectors, return-to-service technicians, supervisors, and managers. The process for non-U.S. citizens to prepare and test for the FAA A&P certificate is different from their U.S. citizen counterparts.

For any foreign mechanic it’s a challenge to meet the FAA requirements of Part 65 subparts A and D. Applicants for a mechanic certificate must meet all the same requirements as their counterparts in the United States, and must be able to read, write, speak, and understand English. The current edition of Advisory Circular (AC) 60-28, English Language Skill Standards Required by 14 CFR parts 61, 63, and 65, states for all certification testing, the applicant needs to read a section of a technical manual, and then write and explain his/her interpretation of the reading. (An appropriate technical manual in this sense means an airplane flight manual, maintenance manual, or other publication as appropriate for the certificate or rating sought.) FAA inspectors will determine this before endorsing an applicant to take the written tests.

Even if an FAA inspector endorses a foreign applicant, the Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME) makes the final decision if the applicant can in fact read, write, speak, and understand English. If a DME cannot understand the applicant’s English during testing they fail the applicant and send the paperwork back to the FAA to be processed.

There are two ways a foreign applicant can obtain an A&P rating:

1. The International Field Office (IFO) performs certification only for applicants located outside the United States for Part 65 Mechanic Certificates/Ratings where the English language is not required. Note: The oral and practical tests are administered by an inspector or examiner in the applicant’s language, or through the use of a neutral interpreter selected or accepted by the inspector or examiner. (Reference FAA Order 8900.1 Vol. 5, Chapter 5, Section 3.)

2. A foreign applicant located in the United States that meets the English language and experience requirements can be endorsed at any FAA Flight Standard District Office (FSDO). (Reference FAA Order 8900.1 Vol. 5, Chapter 5, Section 2.)

Almost all foreign applicants will come to the United States to be endorsed. This process is very expensive for the applicant costing as much as $10,000 or more. As a former FAA inspector and now a DME, I have worked both sides of this process through completion and it can be challenging with some applicants. The FAA inspector will perform an initial interview over the telephone with an applicant to determine their English ability and understand their experience. If the FAA inspector determines the applicant may meet the requirements, an interview date and time is scheduled. The foreign applicant must bring current photo ID, usually their passport.

Experience requirements

Developing a comprehensive portfolio with detailed documents for all work experience, training and education, and other certificates held, is a key part of the process. Documents should describe the type of hands-on work experience performed including dates and specific tasks. Many applicants include copies of work cards they have completed and signed-off. The portfolio is a personal history book and used to determine if the applicant meets Part 65 subparts A and D. The FAA inspector should explain to the applicant what he/she wants to see at the initial interview.

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