A D-1 visa is given to crewmen who are serving aboard vessels (aircraft or ship) which will be docking or landing in the United States. This visa will allow them to enter the US (unless the ship is a fishing vessel that is based in the US). A D-1 visa allows the holder to enter the US for up to twenty-nine days.
These visas may be gotten at an individual level for each crewmember or in a batch via something called “crew list visa”.
In order to be eligible for this type of visa you need to be a crew member of foreign descent. A crew member can mean hostesses, seamen, pilots, flight attendants, employees or stewards on a vessel which requires their particular services during regular operational procedure while traveling to the United States, or as passengers slated to join with an aircraft or ship. If you are uncertain if you qualify under these regulations, it is advisable that you locate and speak with an immigration attorney.
The reason why consultation with an immigration attorney might be beneficial is because each petitioner will be examined by the Consulate in order to determine if the services that they provide are, indeed, required for normal operations. This can vary per vessel. For example, a masseuse employed in a spa on a luxury liner would be considered required; a cable ship would require the services of an electrician; a chemist is deemed a necessary crewman on a whaling ship. Because of the intricacies and the broad range of possibilities, if there is any question, an immigration attorney can help make things clear.
D-1 Visa not for Family Members
A D-1 visa will not apply to any family members of crewmen who happen to also be traveling with the vessel or plane unless they are also providing services. These family members would require a different visa (B-2), excepting when the particular family member is entering the United States for another reason which would require a different visa or who meets the requirements that fall within the parameters of the Visa Waver Program. This program is available only to people who enter the United States via a participating vessel.
The D-1 visa only extends to the period of time in which the crewmember is actively working aboard their vessel. Should they decide to remain within the United States for a vacation once their employment ends, even if they held a D-1 visa they must apply for visitor status or B-2 visa. The exception to this might be if you are aboard a cruise liner. If the cruise liner participates within the Visa Waver Program, there is a possibility that entrance to the United States could be done for free. This is absolutely something that should be checked for before entrance is attempted.