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When do cruise ship crew need a C1/D visa?

Unlike a B1/B2 visa which is most suitable if you work on private yachts and want to enter US waters, the C1/D visa is for non-immigrant crew wanting to enter US waters to work on either a cruise ship, commercial vessel or aircraft. Typically, these commercial crafts have a pre-set itinerary.

If you’re working on a cruise ship that’s heading for US waters, you’ll need to follow the US consulate’s stringent application process to secure your C1/D visa.  Once you’ve secured yours, you’ll be admitted into the US for up to 29 days.

When your visa is being considered for eligibility, they take into account your various responsibilities and activities on the ship.  What they want to know is that your day to day duties are required for the normal operation and services on board the cruise liner.

The most commonly issued C1/D visas are to crew of cruise liners including; beauticians, entertainers and lifeguards.

The application process shouldn’t be underestimated, you’ll need to research what’s expected of you, have all your papers in order, be organised and understand the entire application process before getting started.

There are many vessels moving around in the US, so the C1/D is a really important document for seafarers to have. Apart from allowing you to go ashore, it also comes in handy in the event of a medical emergency.

Please read the step-by-step guide here very carefully, before applying for your non-immigrant C1/D visa.

Applying for your C1/D visa

  1. You can get a visa at either the US Embassy in Londonor the US Consulate in Belfast.
  2. You’ll need to have biometrics and a visa interview with them.
  3. Before booking your visa appointment you’ll need to complete aDS-160 Application Form. (Please select ‘England, London’ if applying for your visa from England).
  4. Carefully read the guidelines to completing the form here before you start.
  5. Check your form carefully making sure everything’s correct before you submit it.
  6. A completion form will be automatically generated (the DS 160 confirmation page) which you need to print out and photocopy for your records. (Take it with you for your interview).
  7. Once you’ve completed the DS-160 application, you need to create an account here and pay for your visa (Click on Temporary Visas – The Country – Continue). The cost of the C1D visa is £130. (For an extra £18 you can get a delivery upgrade which guarantees the visa is returned to your home or business address within 5 working days).
  8. Once you’ve paid for your visa, you’ll be able to book your appointment online. If you need help just call 020 7499 9000. (you need to have paid for your visa beforehand!)
  9. First stage is going for your biometric ie: pictures, fingerprints etc. You’ll need the following original documents plus photocopies of each: passport, your CDC, your DS 160 confirmation page and appointment letter.
  10. You’ll need your interview time and date. You’ll get a sticker on your passport, don’t remove it!
  11. By the way don’t carry phones or lighters to interview.
  12. If you’re well presented, on time and carrying all relevant documents the visa should be accepted. The main reason they hold an interview is to check your authenticity and strong ties to home.
  13. The following documents should be carried (the list is subjective and not exhaustive):
  • Passport (Original)
  • CDC (Original)
  • Company Employment Letter
  • Sea Time certificates
  • Bank Statements, Electricity bills etc. as added proof of your residence
  • Other certificates from school/college etc. that will support your authenticity
  1. Be clear about your shipboard duties, education, last contract, overall sea experience, your date and port of joining the cruise ship.
  2. Allow 10 working days after your appointment to get your passport back. If your visa appointment is less than 3 weeks before your confirmed start date, you’ll need to arrange express delivery of your visa.  This needs to be paid for at least 3 days before your scheduled appointment.
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