US Transit/ Ship Crew Visas
Transit (C visa)
A citizen of a foreign country traveling in immediate and continuous transit through the United States enroute to a foreign destination requires a valid transit visa. Exceptions to this requirement include those travelers eligible to transit the U.S. without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program or travelers who are nationals of a country which has an agreement with the U.S. allowing their citizens to travel to the U.S. without visas.
If the traveler seeks layover privileges for purposes other than for transit through the U.S., such as to visit friends or for sightseeing, the applicant will have to qualify for and obtain the type of visa required for that purpose, such as a B-2 visa.
Crew (D visa)
A crew member serving onboard a sea vessel or aircraft in the United States needs a crew visa. Crew members of an aircraft or ship that will be transiting through the United States or its waters generally use a combination transit/crew visa (C-1/D). However, in some cases, individuals may only require the D visa.
Crew members who work aboard vessels within the Outer Continental Shelf, may qualify for a modified B-1 visa in lieu of a crew visa.
Crew members who will be entering the United States during time-off between flights or cruises should also obtain a B-1/B-2 visa to use during these personal/vacation days. Applicants applying simultaneously for both a C-1/D and a B-1/B-2 visa pay only one visa application fee.
To apply for a transit visa, you must show:
- Intent to pass in immediate and continuous transit through the United States.
- A common carrier ticket or other evidence of transportation arrangements to your destination.
- Sufficient funds to carry out the purpose of your transit journey.
- Permission to enter another country upon departure from the United States.
To apply for other C, D or C-1/D visas, you must demonstrate to a consular officer that:
- The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States solely for transit or crew purposes.
- You do not intend to be paid by a U.S. source while in the United States, unless you have been granted proper approval for a temporary work visa.
- You plan to stay for a specific, limited period of time.
- You have evidence of funds to cover all expenses while in the United States.
Applicants whose crewing agents are members of the Crew Visa Program (CVP) should follow the instructions provided to them by their agent. More information on the CVP, including the Crew Visa process in Lagos, can be found here.
To apply for a transit or crew member visa, you must submit the following:
- A Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form.
- A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
- One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph.
- A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable non-immigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
- If applicable, a seaman’s book valid beyond the expiration date of your employment contract and all prior seamen’s books. Crew members must submit an official report of loss if they are unable to submit the book.
In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.
Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.
Although supporting documents may assist you in your interview, consular officers rely primarily on the interview to determine your eligibility for a visa. In other words, supporting documents are voluntary and of secondary importance.
Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the Embassy or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The Embassy/Consulate will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.
You should bring the following documents to your interview:
- Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or assets.
- A letter from your employer detailing your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized vacation and the business purpose, if any, of your U.S. trip.
- Where appropriate, an itinerary and/or other information about your planned trip. (This can be tentative.)
- Bank statements or other evidence of liquid assets that indicate the balance in your accounts and account activity.
- For crew: a letter from your company’s headquarters and/or your seamen’s book.