Crew/Seamen Visas (C1/D)
Individual C-1/D visas are issued to crew members of international
airlines and to aliens required for the normal operation and service of a
vessel. In the case of the later, in determining who qualifies for the C-1/D
visa, we take into consideration the individual's responsibilities and
activities on the ship.
If you are a professional seaman who intends to transit the United States or its territories to join your vessel, you must be in possession of a valid visa. A "C-1" visa is issued to seamen who will travel to the U.S. by airplane in order to join the crew of a vessel. A "D" visa is issued to seamen who will travel as crewmembers on board a vessel to the U.S. In most cases, qualified applicants will receive a combined "C-1/D" visa, which enables them to travel to the U.S. by boat or plane to join their ships.
Note: It is illegal for non-U.S. Citizens without proper work permits to perform repairs or similar work on any vessel while it is dry-docked in a U.S. harbor, docked in a U.S. port, or traveling in U.S. waters. A C-1/D visa does not authorize you to perform such repairs, and you will not be granted a C-1/D visa if the consular officer deems that this is the purpose of your travel to the United States.
If you were previously employed as a professional seaman, but have submitted your seaman's book ("Fylladio") to the Ministry of Merchant Marine in order to receive your retirement benefits, you may still be eligible for a C-1/D visa, provided that a shipping company is willing to hire you to work on board a ship using your passport instead of your seaman's book.
The U.S. Embassy frequently receives applications from persons being sent by shipping companies to "inspect" a vessel in U.S. waters, either because the vessel has mechanical problems and an inspector must determine what repairs need to be undertaken, or because the company is in the process of buying the vessel and wishes to conduct a pre-purchase inspection. In either case, such inspectors are generally not intending to join the vessel as a member of the crew and are therefore not eligible for C-1/D visas. They are eligible only for B-1 (business) visas, which allow the bearer to conduct inspection in U.S. waters, provided that no repairs are undertaken. Applicants for B-1 visas to inspect a vessel in U.S. waters must comply with all of the requirements for visitor visas.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has asked for the Department’s assistance in annotating the B-1 visas of certain maritime industry workers to indicate their need for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). The TWIC program is a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Coast Guard initiative. It provides a tamper-resistant biometric credential to (1) maritime workers requiring unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities, outer continental shelf facilities, and vessels regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), and (2) all U.S. Coast Guard credentialed merchant mariners.
For foreign applicants applying for B-1 visas, DHS has requested that potential TWIC applicants provide notice of their need for a TWIC at the time of application for a visa. This information should be clearly stated in a letter from the individual’s employer to the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate in support of the applicant’s visa application.
DHS would like to identify only those individuals who have a need for access and are appropriately using the B-1 visa classification by having the employer indicate the long-term intention for the employee to perform maritime services in secure port areas at the time of visa application.
If you are currently enrolled in the seaman-training academy of the Ministry of Merchant Marine, and your academic program requires that you serve as an apprentice on board a vessel, which will be making stops in the United States or its territories, you must have a visa.
Family members of Seamen
Spouses and children of seaman are not eligible to receive C-1/D visas. Such persons who wish to transit the United States in order to join a seaman family member on board a vessel must qualify for a tourist visa. In addition to the documentation required of all visitors, family members of seamen must also present:
- A letter from the shipping company explaining the relationship between the visa applicant and the crewmember, the position of the crewmember on the vessel, and the intended date of arrival in the United States, as well as the name and telephone number of the agent in the United States.
- Marriage certificate and/or
- Birth certificate/s
Applicants who wish to apply for tourist/business visa must come in person to the U.S. Embassy.
For step by step instructions on how to apply and schedule an appointment please click here.
Documents required for C1/D visa are:
- A valid passport that has been signed by the applicant and, where applicable,
- Previous passport with previously issued visa or
- Police report in case of theft or loss of a previous passport with valid visa. The report may be issued by a local police station or consular office or other foreign authority.
- If you have ever been arrested and /or have a criminal conviction, have a medical ineligibility, or have been denied entry into or deported from the United States, you will be required to furnish documents relating to your situation in support of your application.
- The printed confirmation page with barcode generated by the DS-160 online application form (How to Apply - Step 3).
- One photograph that meets the required specifications (How to Apply - Step 1). Even if you have successfully uploaded the photo to the DS-160 please bring one with you on the day of your appointment.
- For airline crewmembers only. Company letter - from Airline - which has engaged your services stating precisely what job you will perform and the intended date of your arrival in the United States.
- For all seamen. A letter from the company which has engaged your services stating the name of the vessel you intend to join; precisely what job you will perform on board; the intended date of your arrival in the United States; and the name of your company's agents in the U.S. Included in the letter should be a statement noting that the company would cover your repatriation expenses.
- For Greek seamen only. Valid seaman's book ("Fylladio") issued by the Ministry of Merchant Marine.
- For seamen.
a. Proof of prior service as a professional seaman. In most instances, the service stamps in your seaman's book will be sufficient.
b. In some cases, however, you may be required to submit recent pay slips or
c. Other proof of service, such as NAT I.D for retired seamen etc.
- For inspectors. Diploma/Degree from either Merchant Marine Academy or University.
- For retired seamen
a. Pensioner's (NAT) ID
b. if you have just filed your document for retirement you may present the letter given to you by NAT and or
c. Diploma/Degree from Merchant Marine Academy
- For Cadets. A letter from the Ministry of Merchant Marine confirming your enrollment in the seaman-training academy. The letter should include the date of your enrollment and the prospective date of completion of your studies.
Regardless of your status as a professional or retired seaman, inspector, cadet, or family member, please note that U.S. Embassy personnel will verify the existence of your shipping company, as well as its authority to engage seamen to work on the vessel named in the letter. If requested, you will need to present the following documentation at the embassy:
- Memorandum of Agreement and Ship's registry
- Company's certification by the Ministry of Merchant Marine
- "FEK" (Greek government gazette listing shipping company)
- Additional documentation for the ship, as requested
Reminder: We always recommend that individuals apply for visas well in advance of their proposed date of travel. No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore, final travel plans or the purchase of non refundable ticket should not be made until a visa has been issued and you are in receipt of the passport.