9 FAM 402.8
(U) Crew – D Visas
(Office of Origin: CA/VO/L/R)
9 FAM 402.8-1 (U) STATUTORY AND REGULATORY Authorities
9 FAM 402.8-1(A) (U) Immigration and Nationality Act
INA 101(a)(10) (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(10)); INA 101(a)(15)(C) (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(C)); INA 101(a)(15)(D) (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(D)); INA 101(a)(38) (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(38)).
9 FAM 402.8-1(B) (U) Code of Federal Regulations
22 CFR 41.41.
9 FAM 402.8-2 (U) Classification codes
(U) 22 CFR 41.12 identifies the following visa classification symbols for crewmembers in accordance with INA 101(a)(15)(D):
Crewmember (Sea or Air)
Combined Transit and Crewmember Visa
9 FAM 402.8-3 (U) Classification as Crewman Under INA 101(a)(15)(D)
a. (U) A crewman is an alien who is serving in a capacity that is required for normal operation and service on board a vessel. In determining whether the services of an alien are required for normal operation and service on board a vessel, the consular officer must take into account the alien’s responsibilities and activities on the ship or aircraft.
(1) (U) For example, a beautician or a lifeguard employed on board a luxury liner, an electrician employed on board a cable ship, or a chemist employed on board a whaling boat would all be classifiable for a D visa. Nonetheless, contractors working on a vessel en route to the United States who are performing work that is not required for the normal operation of a vessel should be issued a B-1 visa, assuming the applicant is otherwise eligible.
(2) (U) Starting in 2005, many countries began issuing plastic credit-card sized Seafarer Identity Documents (SIDs) in lieu of seaman’s books. While an SID or a seaman’s book is not required for a visa application, it can be used on a case-by-case basis to establish that an applicant is a legitimate crewman.
b. (U) To qualify for D status, crewmen must intend to depart from the United States with the vessel on which they arrived or some other vessel or conveyance within 29 days at any one time. In order to affect a departure in terms of the INA, a vessel must sail from the United States destined to a foreign port or place; travel to international waters is insufficient for the purpose of departure. An alien on board a vessel which sails to sea and returns without effecting a departure (i.e., without entering or clearing at a foreign port), and whose itinerary is thus coastwise in nature, remains in the United States subject to the 29-day limitation.
(1) (U) Aliens entering the United States solely to work on board vessels that do not travel to a foreign port or place are unable to qualify under INA 101(a)(15)(D), because they cannot meet the departure requirement.
(2) (U) Per 9 FAM 402.2-5(C)(5), crewmen of a private yacht who are able to establish that they have a residence abroad which they do not intend to abandon may be able to qualify for a B-1 visa provided that the yacht is to sail out of a foreign home port and will be cruising in U.S. waters for more than 29 days.
(3) (U) There is also an exception regarding fishing vessels based in the United States landing temporarily in Guam, (see 9 FAM 402.8-4 paragraph e below).
(4) (U) The fact that a crewman expects to spend a layover period in the United States does not preclude a D visa classification if the crewman does not plan to remain for more than 29 days at any one time.
c. (U) Generally, the INA makes no distinction between U.S. and foreign flag vessels. Therefore, foreign crewmen may be accorded D visas notwithstanding the nationality of the vessel on which they are employed, provided all other requirements for D classification are met. Note, however, that INA 101(a)(15)(D) precludes the issuance of crew visas to aliens who seek to join fishing vessels having a home port or operating base in the United States, regardless of the nationality of the fishing vessel. (See 9 FAM 402.8-4 below.)
d. (U) A crewman may be issued a D visa although not so employed at the time of application. The consular officer must inform the crewman that the visa may be used for entry only if the crewman is employed on the vessel or aircraft on which the crewman arrives.
e. (U) Aliens entering the United States as crewman trainees can be classifiable as nonimmigrant crewmen under INA 101(a)(15)(D).
f. (U) Since INA 101(a)(15)(D) applies to crewmen in service on board a vessel, it does not apply to workers coming to work on shore to effect repairs to the vessel while it is in dry-dock. Workers coming to do repair work under warranty may do so on a B-1 visa; otherwise, they should seek classification as temporary workers under INA 101(a)(15)(H).
g. (U) Contract Workers:
(1) (U) Contract workers who work on board a vessel, but do not meet the definition of "crewman" because the work they perform while on board the vessel is not required for the normal operation of the vessel, are considered passengers and may not qualify as a crewman eligible for a D visa. Such contract workers may be issued a B-1 visa.
(2) (U) CBP will not admit these contract workers on board a vessel in possession of a C1/D visa but will expect them to be in possession of a B-1 visa for admission. These non-crewmembers are not part of the vessel's normal operations and are contracted by the shipping company to perform a function/service on the vessel en route to the United States.
h. (U) Strikes:
(1) (U) If an alien seeks admission to the United States under INA 101(a)(15)(D) for the purpose of performing service on board a vessel or aircraft at a time when there is a strike in the bargaining unit of the employer in which the alien intends to perform such service, the consular officer must seek the Office of Legislation, Regulations, and Advisory Opinions (CA/VO/L/A) advisory opinion before issuing a D visa.
(2) (U) Such advisory opinion is not required if the alien was employed for at least one year before the date of the strike and seeks to continue to perform service as a crewman to the same extent and on the same routes as before the strike.
i. (U) Crewmen who fail to qualify for D status, including alien crew members seeking to enter the United States in the performance of duties on fishing vessels that have a U.S. home port of operating base (see 9 FAM 402.8-4 paragraph a below), will generally have to seek an approved petition from DHS in order to apply for a work or immigrant visa to the United States.
9 FAM 402.8-4 (U) Classification of Fishing Vessel Crew
a. (U) If the home port or operating base of a fishing vessel is in a foreign country, alien members of the crew are classifiable under INA 101(a)(15)(D). A crewman on a fishing vessel having a home port or operating base in the United States is not entitled to a D visa and would normally require an immigrant visa.
b. (U) Since INA 101(a)(15)(D) does not differentiate between U.S. and foreign flag vessels, the prohibition against issuing D visas to crewmen of fishing vessels which have home ports or operating bases in the United States applies equally to fishing vessels of all nationalities.
c. (U) Operating Base:
(1) (U) The term “operating base” is intended to cover places where the vessel takes on supplies regularly, where the cargo of the vessel is sold, or where the owner or master of the vessel engages in business transactions. It is not intended to cover those cases where fishing vessels occasionally come into ports in the United States for supplies.
(2) (U) Generally speaking, a fishing vessel which transacts business on a regular (though not necessarily frequent) basis will be considered as having an operating base in the United States. A single fishing vessel will often have more than one operating base.
d. (U) United States:
(1) (U) INA 101(a)(38) defines “United States” as the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands of the United States, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Consequently, American Samoa is not considered part of the United States in determining whether a fishing vessel has a U.S. home port or operating base.
(2) (U) However, crewmen on a fishing vessel with a home port in American Samoa will be precluded from D classification if the vessel has an operating base in a place which falls within the INA’s definition of United States.
e. (U) Guam:
(1) (U) INA 101(a)(15)(D)(ii) provides that an alien serving on board a fishing vessel having a home port or operating base in the United States may land temporarily in Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on a D visa if the alien does so solely in pursuit of his or her calling as a crewman and departs from Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on the vessel on which he or she arrived.
(2) (U) Such an alien must be considered to have departed from Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands after leaving the territorial waters of Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, without regard to whether the alien arrives in a foreign state before returning to Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
9 FAM 402.8-5 (U) Coasting Officers
a. (U) An alien seeking to enter the United States as a coasting officer must be documented with a B-1 visa. Coasting officers are employed when an officer of a foreign vessel is granted home leave while the vessel is in U.S. ports. A replacement or coasting officer will substitute for an officer on leave during the period the vessel is in and out of various U.S. ports, provided the vessel does not remain in U.S. waters for more than 29 days and the original officer returns in time to depart with the vessel.
b. (U) The coasting officer may then repeat the process with another vessel of the same foreign line.
c. (U) Since a coasting officer is admitted for more than 30 days, a C-1 or D visa would not be appropriate and an H visa does not provide a reasonable alternative.
9 FAM 402.8-6 (U) C-1 Visa for Crewman Traveling to Join a Vessel or Aircraft in United States
a. (U) A crewman traveling to the United States as a passenger to join a vessel or aircraft is classifiable as C-1. You should normally require the applicant to present a verifying letter from the employer or the employer’s agent. You should normally issue C-1 visas for the full validity possible under the appropriate reciprocity schedule.
b. (U) The consular officer may issue a crewman a D visa concurrently with a C-1 visa for use in future applications for admission to the United States. (See 9 FAM 402.8-8 below.)
(1) (U) Where the reciprocity schedule lists the same number of applications and period of validity for both C-1 and D visas, the consular officer may issue a single combination C-1/D visa in lieu of separate concurrent C-1 and D visas.
(2) (U) When the reciprocity schedules for C-1 and D visas differ with regard to the number of applications or period of validity permitted in each category, the consular officer must issue separate C-1 and D visas.
9 FAM 402.8-7 (U) No Derivative Visa for Dependent(s) of Crewman
(U) A spouse, child, or other alien who wishes to accompany a crewman entering the United States as a nonimmigrant under INA 101(a)(15)(D) must independently be able to qualify for another visa classification, such as B1/B2. Statutorily, there is no “dependent” visa classification for D visa aliens.
9 FAM 402.8-8 (U) D Visa Validity and Reciprocity
a. (U) You should normally issue a D visa for the full period of validity and the number of applications for admission indicated by the applicable reciprocity schedule. As per INA 214(b), any D visa applicant must be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to your satisfaction, at the time of application for a visa that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status under INA 101(a)(15)(D).
b. (U) Posts Encouraged to Issue Full Validity, Combined C-1/D Visas:
(1) (U) Posts are encouraged to issue a combined C-1/D visa whenever reciprocity allows, even if the C-1 visa is only for use in future applications for admission to the United States. Crewmen often travel by means other than their assigned vessel to their next assignment or home for vacation.
(U) When the reciprocity schedules for C-1 and D visas differ with regard to the number of applications or period of validity permitted in each category, you must issue separate C-1 and D visas and are encouraged to issue both for full validity. Two fees are required when printing separate C-1 and D visas.
(2) (U) A full validity C-1/D visa should be issued whenever possible, including for first-time seafarers.
9 FAM 402.8-9 Unavailable