What is a crew member visa?
Crewman or D visas are nonimmigrant visas to the United States. The visa is for people who work on commercial marine vessels or international airlines passing through the United States. In order for marine vessels and airlines to operate normally, their crews must cross into the United States and make short stops.
The D visa allows crews to cross into the United States and stay for up to 29 days. If the crew member needs to travel to the United States first and then board the ship or airline, she will need a different visa. The visa for this purpose is a combination of a transit or C-1 visa and a D visa. It is called a C-1/D combined visa.
With the D visa or C-1/D visa you can only stay in the United States for 29 days. You can leave the pier or the airport for that time, but you must leave the country within that time. The D visa is used only for the purpose of passing through the United States for the normal operations of an airline or ship. That’s why it has many restrictions such as:
- It is not permitted to extend the stay
- You are not allowed to work for any other company except the ship or airline you were on
- You are not allowed to enroll in a course of study
- You are not permitted to request a change of status
- It is not possible to request a Green Card
- You must enter and exit the United States at the same pier or airport
- If you want to enter the United States again after departure, you can apply for a visa only after 6 months
- You are not allowed to do long-term shore work on a D visa
What are the requirements for the C1/D visa?
To obtain the D visa you must meet some requirements. The most important thing is that you have to work on a ship or airline traveling to the United States and just passing through. If you have one of the following jobs, you are eligible for a D visa:
- Flight attendant or commercial airline pilot
- Captain, sailor, or engineer on a seagoing vessel
- Lifeguard, waiter, cook or other support staff on cruise ships
- Trainee on board a training ship
- You cannot get a D visa if you intend to perform the following tasks:
- You are performing dry dock tasks such as repairs while the boat is docked in a U.S. port
- You are aboard a fishing vessel that has a base of operations or port of registry in the United States
- You are an official coast substitute
- You are working on a private yacht that will be docked in the United States for more than 29 days
- You are a crew member of a ship bound for the Outer Continental Shelf
- Instead of the D visa, you can get a B-1 visa if you find yourself in these situations. If you are aboard a fishing vessel, we recommend applying for an H-2B visa.
How to apply for crew member visa?
To apply for the crew member visa, you need to follow several steps, as described below.
Step 1: DS-160 file form
Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is the primary form to submit in this case. You can find it online and fill it out. You will have basic questions and reasons for wanting the visa. When you submit it, you’ll receive a confirmation page that you’ll need to save for later.
Step 2: Pay your visa fees
In order to apply, you must pay visa fees. This covers any additional relevant expenses as well as the application fee for submitting Form DS-160. Depending on the relationship the United States has with your country, you may also have to pay reciprocity fees. They are otherwise called visa issuing fees.
You can pay fees online or by money order and check. Your visa will not be processed until you complete this step.
Step 3: Prepare supporting documents
To strengthen your case, you need to have a file with supporting documents. You will bring the documents to the interview. The file should include:
- Your valid passport
- A photo that meets the photo requirements for a US visa
- The DS-160 form confirmation page
- Receipts that you have paid all taxes
- The interview confirmation page and a copy
- Letter describing the purpose of the trip from your company or employer
- Evidence of ties to your home country such as family documents, employment contract, lease or property deed, showing that you do not intend to stay in the United States for more than 29 days
- Letter from your employer with these details:
- Name of vessel
- Length of time you will be in the United States.
- Date and port of entry
- Date and port of exit
- Your job position with job description
- Your salary while you are in the United States.
- Copies of the employer’s working documents
- The Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC)
- Travel authorization from your company
- Certificates and diplomas attesting to your qualifications
- Criminal record or letter from the authorities stating that you have no previous convictions.
- This list is not exhaustive, so the US Embassy may require additional documents. You must be ready to bring with you any documents that they may need to make your visa application stronger.
Step 4: Arrange to appear for your visa interview.
Interviews are necessary for nonimmigrant visas if the applicant is between the ages of 14 and 79. Your interview must be scheduled through the US Embassy in your nation of residence. When you schedule your interview, you will receive an interview confirmation letter. Contains the date, time and location of the interview.
You need to make sure you attend at that specific time. If you miss the interview, you will only extend the application and processing times. A representative of the US Embassy will interview you. They will ask questions about your background and your application. You must bring all supporting documents to the interview.
What is the processing time for crew member visa?
The visa procedure moves forward rather fast if you have all the required paperwork and performed well in the interview. It will take 3 to 5 business days or up to 2 weeks to receive the decision from the US Embassy. They will say if your visa has been granted or rejected.
If you have been approved, you will receive your passport in the mail within 1 to 2 weeks. This depends on the workload of the Embassy in your country. As soon as your passport arrives, you may begin planning your trip. It is not advisable to organize your trip without knowing whether you have obtained a visa or not.
You’ll be able to view explanations like application problems or incomplete paperwork. Then, in order to obtain the visa the following time, you can reapply and fix any mistakes. If you depart the country without a current D visa, you risk being deported right away. There is also the possibility that the ship you work on may not be allowed to dock in U.S. ports if all crew members do not have valid visas.
How long does the crew member visa last?
As mentioned, the crew member visa is only valid for 29 days. Once you enter the United States, you must leave within that time or you face legal risks. If you stay illegally, you may be deported or arrested by authorities.
You cannot renew or extend a D visa. You can reapply for the visa 6 months after leaving the United States on your last D visa.
How much does the crew visa cost?
The precise cost of a D visa varies based on your place of origin. Here is a general rundown of the fees:
Form DS-160 filing fee – $160;
Visa fees depend on the country you live in and the reciprocity measures in place.
Can I bring my family to the United States on a crew member visa?
Sadly, family members are not eligible for the D visa. The crew member’s spouse and children require different visas. Your family may then accompany you on a valid tourist visa.
If the family is carrying out important work on the ship or airline you are on, then they can apply for the D visa. Otherwise they must have a valid B visa.