Individuals working in commercial sea vessels or international airlines require one of two visas, C-1 or D, for a temporary stay in the US. Details of the transit visa or C-1 have been provided in other sections.

What is the D visa?

The crewmember visa is a US nonimmigrant visa that provides up to 29 days’ residence permit. If a foreign traveler has to come to the US to join the vessel or airline, in addition to a US D visa, he also needs a C-1 visa or a combination C-1/D visa. Citizens of some countries, such as Canada and Bermuda, do not require permits to enter the US for working as a crewmember.

Holders of crewmember visas are not allowed to:

  • Lengthen the stay
  • Work for another company, excluding the vessel or airline they were in
  • Enroll in study courses
  • Apply for getting the Green Card
  • Apply for a change in status
  • Do longshore work

Arrival and departure from the US under the crewmember visa must be from the same dock or airport. If you intend to re-enter the country after leaving the US, you must apply for a visa after six months.

How to apply for the US D visa?

What are the requirements of the US D visa?

The following are examples of those who are qualified for the crewmember visa:

  • Pilot or flight staff on a commercial airplane
    • Captain or engineer on a sea ship
    • Lifeguard, cook, servant, cosmetologist, or other  staff on a cruise ship
  •  Working as a trainee in a training vessel

You cannot use a crewmember visa for the following purposes:

  • If you perform the primary services such as repair of ships while the boat is docked at a US harbor, you need to apply for a B-1 visa.
  • If you are a crew member on a fishing vessel that has a homeport in the US, you need to apply for an H-2 visa.
  • A coasting officer working on a foreign vessel usually needs to obtain a B-1 visa.
  • If you work as a crew on a private yacht sailing out of a foreign seaport that will be cruising in US waters for more than 29 days, you need to apply for a B-1 visa.
  • If you work as a crew and want to go to the Outer Continental Shelf, you must petition for a B-1 visa.

How to apply for a crewmember visa?

There are several steps to applying for a US D visa. Firstly you need to fill out an online application form known as Form DS-160. You can obtain this form online. This form contains questions related to your visa application. After completion of the online form, you will receive a confirmation page that you will need to save. You should then upload a photo of yourself while completing the form. In addition to this form, you should provide the following documents for your US D visa application:

  • A valid passport
  • Receipt of payment (visa application fee)
  • A letter from your employer or company describing your purpose of traveling to the US
  • Evidence such as a job contract and family documents indicating that you do not intend to reside in the US
  • Copies of employer work records
  • Letter from the employer including the following details:
    • Name of the vessel
    • Length of stay in the US
    • Date and port of arrival
    • Date and port of exit
    • The job position along with the duties description
    • Your salary during your residency in the US
  • The Continuous Discharge Certificate
  • Certificates verifying your competencies
  • A letter from the authorities indicating that you have no previous conviction
  • Travel permission from your company
  • Evidence that you can support your travel expenses (if you cannot cover all the costs, you need to provide proof that another person will support some or all prices.)

This list is not complete, and the embassy may also require additional documents.

Attending an Interview is one of the main stages to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. The interview is conducted by the Consular Officer at the embassy in your home country. Applicants under 13 and over 80 are not usually interviewed. When you plan the interview, you will receive an interview confirmation letter. It contains the date and location of your interview. In an interview, the Consular Officer will ask questions to determine your competencies for the US D visa. You must bring all the mentioned documents to the interview. Digital fingerprint scans are usually taken as part of the application during your interview.

There is no guarantee to issue the visa. So do not buy tickets prior to visa approval. After the issuance of a visa, keep in mind that a valid US visa in an expired passport is still valid.

How long does it take to be issued a crewmember visa?

If you provided all the required documents and passed the interview well, the processing time is quite fast. It will take three days to two weeks to receive the decision from the US embassy.

If the embassy denied your US D visa application, they would send you a letter telling you why. You will understand the reasons, such as incomplete documents or mistakes. You can then reapply for the visa and improve the errors so you can obtain it the next time.

How much does it cost to petition for a crewmember visa?

You have to pay about $160 before processing the documents. Depending on your nationality, you might also need to pay a visa issuance fee. The visa application fee cannot be refunded, and the visa issuance fee is paid after the visa approval. Payment can be made online or via the money order and check.

How long can you stay with the D visa?

As mentioned, the validity of the US D visa is 29 days.  Illegal stay in the US after 29 days leads to depart and arrest by authorities. You are not allowed to extend a crewmember visa. You can petition for permission again six months after leaving the US on your last D visa.

Can your dependents come to the United States under a crewmember visa?

No. You cannot bring your dependents to the US under this visa. Your spouse and unmarried minor children may petition for visitor (B) visas to accompany you if they do not perform services related to the operation of the vessel. If your spouse and children intend to enter the United States for another purpose, then they must apply for the visa category, which is appropriate for that purpose.

Let’s sum up…

In the previous paragraphs, we learned that we needed the US D visa to stay in the US temporarily as a crew in international vessels and airlines. On the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US visas as well as ways to immigrate to other countries. In case you have some experience, please write it down in the comment section. Your comments let the readers choose better and avoid mistakes. Conveying your experiences in comments is a great help for applicants.

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