To all crew members of international airlines or personnel on ships and cruise liners: If you travel to the United States for a limited period of time as a crew member, i.e. as part of your work on board, you need a so-called C-1/D visa. We describe the special features of this work visa below.
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:
ship and service personnel
any other worker on board a ship or aircraft
Tip: For other individuals who are not employed as crew members, B-1 visas can be applied for under certain conditions. This includes crew members who are responsible for maintenance on the dry dock and can present a work agreement for this activity. Anyone who works on a private yacht and sails or cruises in American waters for more than 29 days also requires a B-1 visa.
What are the requirements for the C-1/D visa?
The following criteria must be met when applying for the C-1/D visa:
Temporary stay in the U.S. as a crew member on board For the approval of this visa category 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. The U.S. authorities define departure as when the ship departs from a U.S. port to a port outside the United States (the U.S. includes not only the mainland but also Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam and the American Virgin Islands).
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. In addition, a letter from the employer confirming the working relationship with the airline or (cruise) ship must be available. The applicant may not receive any remuneration from the U.S. side or a U.S. company. Tip: At the time of application itself, the person does not have to be employed yet, but a contract should be available that confirms the future employment on board.
Proof of intention to return (= strong ties to the home country or country of origin) In concrete terms, this means that the C-1/D applicant retains his permanent residence outside the United States and intends to travel to the U.S. only for a temporary stay.
The nationality of the ship on which the crew members work is not important for the visa issue.
Note: This visa does not allow you to work for a U.S. employer. The C-1/D visa only permits temporary stays in the United States as part of your employment on board.
C-1/D visa application
C-1/D application procedure
Applicants are required to appear in person at one of the responsible U.S. consulates for an interview. In Germany, you can apply for a C-1/D visa at the U.S. consulate in Berlin, Frankfurt / Main or Munich, for example.
In addition to the general application documents, you should submit documents on the employment relationship, purpose of entry and other evidence of the intention to return. The application is usually made at the U.S. consulate of the country in which the applicant lives.
How long does the application take?
The processing time depends very much on the waiting time until the interview date. The availability of visa appointments depends, among other things, on the respective consulate or the season. Therefore, you should allow about one to two weeks for a C-1/D application.
About one week after the successful interview at the U.S. consulate, the passport including the C-1/D visa will be sent to the employee by mail.
What does a C-1/D visa cost?
Everyone who applies for a C-1D visa must pay application fees to the U.S. consulate.
Reciprocity fee if applicable
varies according to nationality (for Germany, Austria and Switzerland the Reciprocity Fee is waived)
Payment is possible by bank transfer, immediate transfer or online payment via debit card.
How long is the C-1/D visa valid?
Validity of the C-1/D visa
The validity period of a C-1/D visa depends on the nationality of the applicant. On the basis of the so-called reciprocity schedule it is decided, depending on the nationality, for which validity period the visa is issued.
For example, for German nationals the C-1/D visa is normally issued for 10 years. This means that a new visa would only have to be applied for again after the ten years have expired.
Duration of stay in the U.S.
With a C-1/D visa, a maximum stay in the United States of up to 180 days per entry is permitted; either several times or in a single block.
Note: The exception to this rule is crew members of ships. They have to leave the United States with their ship after 29 days at the latest.