As a port city and a destination for international tourists, Miami has a robust shipping and cruise industry that employs many crewmembers. As a Miami immigration lawyer, I  often receive questions about the crewmember visa (i.e. the C-1 visa/ D visa). Below are some frequently asked questions about the C-1 Visa and the D Visa.

What is the C-1 visa and the D visa?

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Crewmember (D) visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons working on board sea vessels or international airlines in the United States, providing services required for normal operation and intending to depart the United States on the same vessel or any other vessel within 29 days. If you travel to the United States to join the vessel you will work on, in addition to a crewmember (D) visa, you also need a transit (C-1) visa or a combination C-1/D visa. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

When will I need the C-1 visa?

If you travel to the United States to meet and board the vessel you will work on, you need a transit (C-1) visa. (This is in addition to the crewmember (D) visa required to work on the vessel.) The interviewing consular officer may request that you provide evidence you are transiting to meet the vessel, for example, a letter from your employer or employer’s agent.

If you apply for the transit (C-1) visa at the same time as your crewmember (D) visa, you may be issued a combination C-1/D visa, if the reciprocity schedule for your country of citizenship allows for issuance of a C-1/D visa, and if the consular officer determines you are qualified. Select the country reciprocity schedules for more information. Again, if you have any questions in regard to this, you should with a Miami immigration lawyer.

What do I need in order to qualify for a C-1/D visa?

If you intend on applying for a C-1 visa or a D visa, you must show that you qualify under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Since the presumption in the law is that every visa applicant is an intending immigrant, applicants for Crew member/Transit visas must demonstrate that:

  • The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for crew-related business or transit.
  • They plan to remain for a specific period only.
  • They possess a ticket or other assurance of transportation departing the U.S.
  • They have sufficient funds for transit.
  • They have a residence outside of the U.S. as well as other binding obligations which will insure their return abroad at the conclusion of their trip.

Again, if you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration attorney.

How do I apply for the C-1 visa or the D visa?

All nonimmigrant visa applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 must attend a personal visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. The following is needed when applying for a C-1/D visa:

  1. Letter from the employer confirming employment.
  2. If not covered in the employment letter, evidence of the travel itinerary and the ticket showing the planned departure from the U.S.
  3. Documentation showing that the applicant has significant ties to his or her country of residence and intends to return there after his or her temporary stay in the U.S.
  4. Evidence of sufficient funds for transit.
  5. A DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, which must be completed and submitted online. A passport-style photograph must also be scanned and uploaded when completing the DS-160.
  6. A valid passport. There should be at least six months of unexpired validity and at least one blank page to insert the machine-readable visa.
  7. Payment of the visa issuance fee, where required.

If you have any questions in regard to obtaining the C-1 visa or the D visa, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at

Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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