This visa is intended for those people who work on international airlines or commercial sea vessels that travel through the U.S.
The U.S has many varieties of non-immigrant visas and each one of them is intended for different purposes. A foreign citizen who travels to the U.S for short periods of time is going to need a visa depending on the reason for their visit.
For work-related travel to the U.S, there are many other types of visas. One of these visas is the Crewmember visa or D Visa, in this article we will go through the details and information concerning this visa.
What is a Crewmember Visa?
This visa is considered a nonimmigrant visa. People who hold this visa work on commercial vessels and international airlines. These vessels and airlines travel through the U.S and make short stops, so for that to be possible, foreign workers need the Crewmember Visa. The maximum amount of time you can stay in the U.S with this visa is 29 days.
If the worker needs to travel to the U.S and then board the vessel or airline, a different visa is needed. That visa is a combination of the transit or C1 visa and the D visa. It is named the combination C1/D visa.
Also, the same timeframe for stay applies to the C1/D visa, and that’s 29 days. The dock and airport can be left within that time, but you must leave the country within the 29 days. The only reason people need to get this visa is for the normal operations of an airline or vessel, and it must be strict because of this purpose. There are many restrictions that come with this visa like:
- You are not allowed to extend your stay;
- You are not allowed to work for another company except the vessel or airline you were in;
- You are not allowed to enroll in a study program;
- You are not allowed to apply for a change in status;
- You are not allowed to apply for a Green Card;
- You must enter and leave the U.S in the same dock or airport;
- If you want to enter the U.S again after leaving, you can only apply for the visa after 6 months;
- You are not allowed to do longshore work on a D visa;
What Are the Requirements for the C1/D Visa?
You need to fulfill some requirements before you are eligible to get the D visa. The most important requirement is that you would be working on an airline or vessel. You are qualified if you are one of these job positions:
- Flight attendant or pilot on a commercial airplane;
- Captain, deckhand, or engineer on a sea vessel;
- Lifeguard, waiter, cook, or other supporting staff on cruise ships;
- Trainee on board of a training vessel;
If you perform the following duties, you can’t get a D visa:
- You are performing dry dock duties such as repairs while the boat is docked on a U.S port;
- You are on a fishing vessel which has an operating base or home port in the U.S;
- You are a substitute coasting officer;
- You are working on a private yacht which will be docked in the U.S for more than 29 days;
- You are a crewmember on a vessel going to the Outer Continental Shelf;
In these situations, you are obliged to get the B-1 visa instead of the D visa. Furthermore, if you are on a fishing vessel, you need to get the H-2B visa.
How to Apply for a Crewmember Visa?
Step 1: File Form DS-160
This form is considered the main form of applying for this visa. You can find it and fill it out online. Basic background questions are included in the form and the main reasons for wanting the visa. After submitting it, you get a confirmation page which you need to save for later.
Step 2: Pay Visa Fees
A few fees need to be paid like, the application fee for Form DS-160 and other applicable fees. In some cases, some will need to pay reciprocity fees, depending on the relations of the U.S and your country of origin. They are otherwise known as visa issuance fees.
If you do not pay the fees, the visa will not be processed. The fees can be paid online through money order and check.
Step 3: Prepare Your Supporting Documents
You must have the needed supporting documents, to strengthen your application. The documents will be taken by you in the interview. These documents are as follows:
- Your valid passport;
- A photograph that meets the Photo Requirements;
- The Form DS-160 confirmation page;
- Receipts that you have paid all the fees;
- The interview confirmation page and one copy;
- A letter which describes the purpose of your trip from your company or employer
- Proof of ties to your home country such as family documents, job contract, lease, or property deed, which prove you do not intend to stay in the U.S longer than 29 days;
- Letter from your employer with these details:
- Name of the vessel;
- Period of time you will be in the U.S.
- Date and port of entry;
- Date and port of exit;
- Your job position with a description of duties;
- Your salary while in the U.S.
- Copies of employee’s work record from your employer;
- The Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC);
- Travel authorization from your company;
- Certificates and diplomas verifying your qualifications;
- Criminal records or letters from authorities stating that you do not have prior convictions.
The U.S Embassy might even ask for additional documents to further strengthen your applications, so be ready to prepare any document that they might ask for.
Step 4: Schedule and Attend Your Visa Interview
An interview is scheduled with the U.S embassy in your home country. When you set the interview, you get a confirmation letter from the embassy, in this letter, you will find the date, time, and place of the interview. Also, for nonimmigrant visas, an interview is obligatory between the ages of 14 and 79 years old.
The interview needs to be attended at the given time and place. If this interview is missed, the process for the visa stretches longer. You will be interviewed by an official in the embassy of your home country, and all the supporting documents need to be brought to the interview.
What Is the Processing Time for the Crewmember Visa?
Taking into account the strength of your application, and whether you have all the necessary documents and passed the interview well, the processing time takes 3-5 business days or up to 2 weeks to get a response for your application. The decision will state that either you are approved for this visa or denied.
If you are approved, you will get the passport in the time depending on the workload of the U.S embassy in your country, usually 1-2 weeks. When you receive your passport, you can start making travel arrangements. It is not recommended that you make travel arrangements before you get the final decision from the embassy.
If you are denied, you are going to get a letter with an explanation to why you were turned down. After this, you can reapply with correcting the mistakes from the previous application mentioned in this letter. Don’t go to the U.S if you don’t have a valid D visa, you will be deported immediately. Furthermore, if you don’t have a valid visa and work for a vessel, there is a chance that the vessel might not be allowed to dock.
How Long Is the Crewmember Visa Valid?
The timeframe you are allowed to stay in the U.S for this visa is 29 days. If you exceed this time, you face legal risks and can be arrested by the authorities.
This visa cannot be extended or renewed. You can reapply 6 months after your last D visa.
How Much Does the Crewmember Visa Cost?
The cost of this visa depends on where you are situated. A close overview of the fees is the following:
- Form DS-160 filing fee – $160;
- Visa issuance fee which depends on the country you live in and the reciprocity measures in place.
Can I Bring My Family to the U.S With a Crewmember Visa?
This is not possible. If your family wants to accompany you in the U.S, they need to get a valid tourist visa.
If your family is working on the airline or vessel, then they can apply for the D visa, if not, they need valid B visas.