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Transit (C-1) and Crew (D) Visas

The U.S. Embassy has an obligation to ensure that persons applying for D and/or for C-1 visas have a legitimate need for them.  The determination of need is based on when and how the applicant will enter the United States, not on speculative grounds of possibly needing a particular visa type at some undetermined time in the future.  Manning agencies are responsible for providing us with accurate information concerning crew members’ travel plans.

Please read the following FAQs before contacting us with questions about transit (C-1) and crew (D) visas:

  • Do “crew list” visas still exist?  “Crew list” visas no longer exist.  The United States Congress has mandated that all visa applicants undergo a personal interview. 
  • What guidelines can you offer concerning who is likely to receive combined C-1 and D visas?  In addition to crew members with a verifiable need to fly to the United States to join a ship, crew members with a history of responsible use of previous U.S. visas may be found eligible for combined C-1 and D visas.  
  • Are there any changes in how long it takes to receive a visa?  The time it takes to process a visa has not changed.  Most manning agencies will receive the visas for their crew members within one week of the crew members’ interviews at the Embassy.  
  • Some crew members who are flying to join ships in countries outside the United States must pass through a U.S. airport to reach those countries.  Do they need U.S. visas?  Yes.  This is the purpose of the C-1 visa.  It enables aliens—crew members as well as others—to transit the United States.  Crew members joining ships in U.S. waters transit the United States (after arriving by aircraft) on their way to their ship.  Crew members flying to join ships in other countries sometimes must transit one or more U.S. airports to reach their destinations.  In such cases, crew members must demonstrate a verifiable need for a C-1 visa.   
  • Are there any changes in B-1 visas for persons working aboard private yachts or B-1/OCS visas for those working aboard international vessels on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf or in the Gulf of Mexico?  No, there are no changes in these visa categories.
  • We understand that vessels will be fined or subject to and charged for guards if they enter a U.S. port with crew members who do not have valid U.S. visas. Is this true? No, this is not true. A vessel entering a U.S. port is never subject to fines or the imposition of guards because of the visa status of its crew members. However, vessels that have a history of crew members “jumping ship” or other security-related issues may be required by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to post guards.

How To Apply   
All seafarer recruitment agencies must follow the steps provided below.

To apply, please comply with Nonimmigrant Visa Application Procedures.  The applicant must submit the additional documentary requirements listed below. 

It is not required under U.S. law for seafarers to be members of an employment agency. Therefore, seafarers can apply through a local Filipino employment agency or can apply on their own.  It is important to note that seafarers not backed by an employment agency will still require a valid contract and letter of guarantee from their employer and must meet the same standards as other applicants.

  1. Seafarer’s Identification and Record Book (SIRB) issued by the Philippine Department of Transportation and Communication’s Maritime Authority (MARINA). 
  2. Seafarer’s Registration Card (SRC) issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), with attached signed photo. 
  3. First page of the original valid Overseas Employment Commission Certification (OEC) issued by the POEA or a POEA in-house processed OEC issued by certified agencies.
  4. Seafarer recruitment agency guarantee letter with signature and all appropriate information. Each seafarer must be issued an individual guarantee letter with each application.
  5. Employment history – applicant’s job experience from age 21 up to present. 
  6. All seaman’s books that have expired in the past ten years and any additional seaman’s book or passport which contains a U.S. visa. 
  7. Signed and valid contract of employment in POEA format. 
  8. Original Basic Safety Course (BSC) training certificate with Personal Safety and Social Responsibility (PSSR) (photocopies are not accepted). 
  9. College transcripts and diplomas (first-time seafarers). 
  10. Certifications of training (first-time seafarers). 
  11. Employment certification letters from previous employers (first-time seafarers).
  12. For seafarers taking unusual or uncommon seafaring positions, seafarer recruitment agencies must provide a complete job description and indicate whether the position is a temporary or permanent component of the ship’s crew. In some circumstances, seafarer applicants may be requested to submit a complete itinerary for the vessel or a U.S. Coast Guard ship clearance letter.
  13. Copy of the Appointment Confirmation Page.


  • Seafarers should submit visa applications as early as possible, but at least one week before their scheduled departure.  The Nonimmigrant Visa Unit will make every effort to process applications quickly.
  • In certain cases, additional documents may be requested. 
  • All documents must be originals.  Photocopies will not be accepted, unless specified. The applicant should bring these documents to the interview in case the consular officer requests to see them.  The Nonimmigrant Visa Unit does not accept documents before the interview. Any documents received will not be returned and will be destroyed. Please note, however, that presentation of the documents will not guarantee visa issuance. Applicants must still qualify for the type of visa being sought. 

Guidelines for Document Submission   

Every seafarer recruitment agency should carefully check all seafarer applications prior to submission to ensure the form has been filled out correctly and completely. Incomplete applications will be denied.  Follow these guidelines when submitting documents:  

  • Remove plastic covers or jackets from SIRBs and passports.    
  • Remove excess papers and staples. 
  • The guarantee letter must be stapled to the back of the application form. All guarantee letters must follow the format described in the instructions found in the Embassy accreditation kit. Guarantee letters not in the correct format or without required information will not be accepted. 
  • The SRC must be attached to the inside front cover of the SIRB. 
  • The POEA issued or in-house processed contract of employment and OEC must be stapled together inside the back cover of the seaman’s book. Original documents including the contract, OEC and SRC will be returned to the seafarer after the application is processed.


  • The seafarer recruitment agency must contact the call center to make any corrections to inaccurate information before the applicant’s interview.
  • Please be advised that this information may change without prior notice. Every effort will be made to inform all seafarer recruitment agencies in a timely fashion. 
  • The Embassy will not approve and process improperly documented applicants to enable them to join vessels or catch flights on short notice. The Embassy will not be responsible for delays and missed connections.

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