Transit and Crewmember Visas (C-1, D, and C-1/D)
C-1 visas are transit visas, which are used by nonimmigrants who need to travel through the United States en route to another country. Generally speaking, they must be used for “immediate and continuous transit,” meaning that the nonimmigrant must intend to travel quickly through the United States (he cannot have any unreasonable layovers and must have a prearranged itinerary, such as a scheduled flight to another country).
A C-1 visa is required for crewmembers who need to travel into the United States to join the vessel or aircraft on which they will work. Because these visas are only transit visas, allowing crewmembers to meet up with their vessels or aircraft, most crewmembers will also need D visas (oftentimes, they will be issued combination C-1/D visas).
D visas are also known as “crewmember visas,” as they allow crewmembers to provide services needed for normal operation of the vessels or aircraft within the United States for up to 29 days. C-1/D visas are combination visas, issued for crewmembers who will join their vessels or aircraft in the United States and subsequently work on those vessels or aircraft for up to 29 days. Crewmembers must intend to leave the United States within 29 days. There are various restrictions on C-1, D, and C-1/D visas, because they are intended to be used for short periods of time for nonimmigrants who do not intend to stay in the United States long-term. For example, nonimmigrants who arrive in the United States on crewmember visas are generally restricted from applying for adjustment of status and becoming lawful permanent residents.
A “crewmember” may be a pilot or a flight attendant on a commercial airplane; a captain, an engineer, or a deckhand on a sea vessel; a lifeguard, a cook, a waiter, a beautician, or another type of service staff on a cruise ship; or a trainee on board a training vessel.
A nonimmigrant may be eligible for a D visa even if he or she is not employed at the time of the application, but they cannot use the visa until he or she is employed. Family members of D visa holders are not eligible for dependent visas; family members wishing to visit may be able to get visitor’s visas. The following categories of nonimmigrants are not eligible for D visas: fishing vessel employees; private yacht crewmembers who will be in the United States for more than 29 days; dry dock workers making repairs to a boat that is docked at a U.S. port while under warranty; crewmembers going to the Outer Continental Shelf; and replacement “coasting officers” 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.
Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are not required to obtain crewmember visas to enter the United States for the purpose of travel as crewmembers.
If you have questions or concerns or would like additional information about obtaining a C-1, D or C-1/D visa, please contact one of the attorneys at Tanner Law Offices, LLC at 717-731-8114 to schedule a consultation.