Crewmember (D) and Transit (C-1) Visas

Crewmember (D) Visas

Crewmember (D) visas are nonimmigrant visas for workers aboard international airlines or commercial sea vessels in the United States. Crewmember (D) visas are for individuals who provide services required for normal operation and intend to depart the United States on the same vessel (or any other vessel) within 29 days. Traveling to the United States to join the vessel you will work on requires, in addition to a crewmember (D) visa, a transit (C-1) visa or a combination C-1/D visa. It is worth noting that attempting to apply for a green card and changing immigrant status directly from a C-1/D visa is not a possibility.

Examples of travel purposes that require a Crewmember (D) Visa include:

  • Captains, engineers, or deckhands on a sea vessel.
  • Pilots or flight attendants on commercial airplanes.
  • Lifeguards, cooks, waiters, or other service staff on a cruise ship.
  • Trainees on board a training vessel.

Examples of travel purposes that are not permitted on a Crewmember (D) Visa include:

  • The services performed are dry dock repairs while the vessel is docked at a U.S. port.
  • You are a temporary crewmember on a fishing vessel with a home port in the U.S.
  • You are a replacement coasting officer employed when an officer of a foreign vessel is granted home leave, and the vessel does not remain in U.S. waters for more than 29 days.
  • You are a crewmember on a private yacht sailing out of a foreign port which will be cruising in U.S. waters for more than 29 days.
  • You are a crewmember going to the Outer Continental Shelf.

Transit (C) Visas

Transit (C) visas are nonimmigrant visas for those traveling in “immediate and continuous” transit through the United States en route to another country. Immediate and continuous transit is defined as a reasonably quick departure and assumes a prearranged itinerary without any unreasonable layover privileges. Layover privileges for purposes other than for transit through the United States, such as sightseeing or visiting friends, require that the traveler apply for additional visas.

Examples of travel purposes that require a Transit (C) Visa include:

  • A foreign citizen traveling to another country who will have a brief layover, for transit purposes, in the U.S.
  • A passenger embarking from a foreign port on a cruise ship or other vessel which, during its journey to another country, makes port in the U.S. with no intention of landing in the U.S.
  • A crewmember traveling to the U.S. as a passenger to join a ship or aircraft you will work on, providing services for operation. You will also need a crewmember D visa, most often issued as a combination C-1/D visa.

Examples of travel purposes that are not permitted on a Transit (C) Visa include:

  • A layover in the U.S. for a purpose other than to transit. If you wish to visit friends or sightsee, you must apply for a visitor (B) visa.
  • Coasting officers seeking to enter the U.S. can apply for a visitor (B) visa.
  • Crewmembers on a private yacht sailing out of a foreign port which will be cruising in U.S. waters for more than 29 days should apply for a visitor (B) visa.
  • Officers or employees of an international organization assigned to the U.S. may pass in immediate and continuous transit through the U.S. on an International Organization (G-4) visa.

What is the C-1/D visa?

The C-1/D visa allows crew members or personnel of international airlines or (cruise) ships to enter the U.S. for a temporary stay as part of their work on board. The C-1/D visa is the most frequently issued visa for flight attendants, captains, cosmeticians, musicians, pilots, ship and service personnel, technicians, entertainers, and any other workers on board aircraft or ships.

Requirements for C-1/D Visa:

  • Temporary stay and normal operations: It is necessary to prove that the activity on board the vessel is part of the normal operation. Crew members who are in American waters on their C-1/D visa must leave the U.S. on their ship after a maximum of 29 days.
  • Evidence of crew member activity: To obtain a C-1/D visa, the traveler should ideally be on the crew list of the airline or ship as a crew member. A letter from the employer confirming the working relationship with the airline or (cruise) ship must be available. The person does not have to be employed yet at the time of the application process, but a contract should be available that confirms the future employment on board.
  • Proof of intention to return: The C-1/D applicant must show that they retain their permanent residence outside the United States and intend to travel to the U.S. only for a temporary There should be proof of the applicant’s strong ties to their home country.

C-1/D Restrictions:

  • You will be ineligible for some forms of relief such as cancellation of removal and adjustment of status in immigration court.
  • You may not apply for an extension of stay.
  • You may not apply for a green card.
  • If you want to reenter the U.S., you must apply for the visa after 6 months.

C-1/D Visa Application

Applicants are required to appear in person at a U.S. consulate for an interview. In addition to the general application documents, you should supplement documents on employment relationship, purpose of entry, and other evidence of intention to return to the country of origin. Everyone who applies for a C-1/D visa must pay application fees to the U.S. consulate. Generally, the consular fee is about $160, plus any reciprocity fees and attorney fees (if applicable).

If you have any questions, or if you wish to submit a C-1/D Visa Application, please call attorney Jane Y. Lee’s office at 614-452-4915 or visit