CREWMEN (D & C-1)
The “D” Visa for Crewmen
Crewman serving on an international commercial sea vessel or aircraft may be eligible for a D visa, granted they are only employed in a “crewman” capacity (any position required for normal business operations). However, the D visa is not available for individuals who will continue their employment by working on domestic flights or vessels after arriving in the United States. The simplified “crew list” visa option was eliminated for security reasons in 2004, leaving only the D-1 visa for individuals.
The D-1 visa comes with a number of strings attached. The D-1 visa is valid for only twenty-nine days and cannot be extended. The law does not allow individuals in D-1 status to change to another visa classification from within the U.S., and there is only a narrow exception under §245(i) allowing these individuals to apply for permanent residence. Furthermore, D-1 crewman are detained on their arriving vessels until Customs & Border Protection completes their inspection and are only permitted to “land” and disembark with CBP approval.
The “C-1” Visa for Individuals in Transit
In some instances, other individuals may qualify for a “C-1” transit visa, such as a crewman entering the United States for the sole purpose of boarding an outbound commercial sea vessel.
To be eligible for C status one must be (1) passing in immediate and continuous transit through the U.S., (2) be in possession of a plane/boat ticket to their final destination, (3) possess sufficient funds for the trip, and (4) have prior permission to enter the destination or transit countries. Any period of stay in the United States must be less than twenty-nine days. Foreign nationals present in C status are prohibited from changing to another visa classification from within the United States – they must depart and apply at a consulate overseas.