A Guide to Applying For US Visa For Seafarers

( Note: This is for First Time US Visa Applicants. This guide has been written by keeping Indian Seafarers in mind; however, many points remain the same for applicants of most of the countries. Do check your respective country’s visa application guidelines or visit websites mentioned in the article below for related information.)

Over the years, the US Visa has become an essential part of a seafarer’s portfolio. A valid US Visa has become synonymous with an application for employment in most shipping companies.

Come to think of it, it is indeed quite an important document (and not without reason); owing to the strict procedure of applying and getting interviewed for the American visa, it shows credibility on the individual’s behalf when applying for a job.


Also, the frequency of vessels trading in the United States being high, a document such as that becomes imperative for a seafarer to possess. Apart from the obvious advantage of being allowed shore leave, a US Visa also comes handy in the event of a medical emergency.

Without the possession of a valid visa, going for a medical checkup costs the company a huge amount of money (an armed guard has to be hired followed by verification at the department of Homeland Security). It is a cumbersome process that causes unnecessary discomfort to both; the individual, as well as the company. So why not put a little effort into obtaining a document that’ll only be advantageous to a seafarer?

Usually, the process of obtaining the visa is portrayed to be a very troublesome process by most. Rare instances of being declined a visa catches the attention of the individual which results in no effort in applying in the first place. However, coming from experience, it is safe to say that it is a very organized and well thought out process, made to keep the nature of it as simple as possible. If one reads the given data on screen, and fills up all the information true to his knowledge, there’s nothing that should come in the way of the seafarer getting his visa. So let’s get started with the application process:

1. Apply for a Visa: This page should be bookmarked in your web browser because you’ll be needing it very frequently in the days of the application process (click yes if its your first time). Remember that the seafarer’s visa is a C1DVisa that is Non Immigrant in nature.

2. Complete the DS 160 form: Once you’ve read the information carefully, it’s time to take the first step towards getting the visa; the DS 160 form. Guidelines to completing the DS 160 form must be read thoroughly before starting the process. Once convinced, it is time to start applying.

The DS 160 is a very simple form and requires no specific knowledge as such. Information to be supplied on the form is basic and the process to fill them out if mentioned very candidly.

On completion, recheck all your details two times to make sure that none of the provided info is incorrect. Once sure that there are no errors, go ahead and submit it. A completion form will be generated (‘The DS 160 Confirmation Page’). This ‘Confirmation Page’ is important and should be printed out; photocopies should also be made. This page will have to be shown during your biometrics and is also to be carried during the interview.

3. Book your VAC and payment: (Apply for US VISA here) Having completed your DS 160, it’s now time to book your Visa Application Center (biometrics venue), your interview center, your delivery/pick up address, and pay your visa fees ($ 160 currently for Indian Seafarers). Just read what is on the page and follow the step-by-step instructions to complete this very crucial process. Remember that payment can be made through a variety of options; however, wait for a day for the payment receipt code to get generated. Till this is generated, you cannot book your biometrics/interview time and venue. Be patient. Call the customer care via phone or Skype or email if that satiates your impatience! (If you make an online payment, you can call Bank of America’s helpline directly to obtain information of remittance). Once you’ve received the code, book your options. Accordingly, you’ll get an email with your appointment schedule; print that out and make copies.

4. Go to your VAC on the stipulated date: So now you’ve completed the cumbersome part of the application process. You have selected your venue and your timings for both processes. The first aspect is going for the biometrics at the selected place. Carry your original passport (mandatory; and a photocopy), your CDC (not mandatory; and a photocopy), your DS 160 confirmation page (mandatory; and a copy), your appointment letter (mandatory; and a copy). You’ll be briefed there and they will take your pictures, fingerprints etc. Be sure of your interview timing and date, as you will be asked. Once all formalities are done, your passport will be provided with a sticker; please DO NOT take it off! Take all your belongings and prepare for the final stage- the interview. Remember, no phones, lighters etc. are to be carried here.

5. The Interview: Much has been said about the visa interview, but it is no rocket science. If you’re well presented, on time, carrying all relevant documents, there’s no way a visa is going to be denied. Dress sharp, stay confident, it’s a visa interview that YOU have paid for! The main idea of the interview is to check your authenticity, and that you have strong ties to your home country. So carry all documents that reinforce that idea. 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 you think will present your case to be authentic

Provided you answer your questions confidently, you will not be asked for anything but for the first three. Make sure to have a clear answer regarding your shipboard duties, your education (school as well as college), your last contract and sea experience overall, your date and port of joining as per your company letter. There’s no need to prepare per se; if you’re confident, thorough with yourself and your shipboard duties, you’re good to go!

At the end of the interview, the consular officer will tell you if you’re visa has been approved. Remember that a C1D visa can be clubbed together with a B1/B2 (10 year tourist visa). Ask him to consider you for that right at the start of the interview if you’re interested. If not, let it be.

If your visa is approved, you’ll receive an email and SMS on your given information regarding the collection of the passport. Most likely, you’ll have to go to the VAC to collect it. Make sure to call the helpline in advance to know the timings for a passport to be collected.

Getting a US Visa is no big deal as it is made out to be. If you just follow procedure and be direct, there is no way you’ll be rejected what’s rightfully yours!

All the very best !

Do you feel we are missing any important point? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Author

Shilavadra Bhattacharjee is a shipbroker with a background in commercial operations after having sailed onboard as a Third Officer. His interests primarily lie in the energy sector, books and travelling.


  1. I have a question, Can I apply for C1D visa because most companies are in need of us c1d visa, reason why I am asking this because having us visa automatically increases better prospects to get job. Do I have to have sponsor I mean job offer before applying for Visa, Can I not apply on the basis of COC and discharge certificate, is that not sufficient to prove I may be sailing in US waters??

  2. i’m gng to join in ship fr first time as a junior engg. should i required US visa.

  3. 1. Mr. Dixit,

    It is mandatory to have a company letter stating that you’ll be joining a vessel under their administration. While filling up the DS 160, employment information is required (which requires you to put in your company’s name and employment details) and during the interview, it is necessary to present the company letter to the consular officer.

    2. Mr. Praveen,

    It is an important document and you should ask your company to provide you with a letter of joining/employment so that you can apply for the visa. Although it is not compulsory, it is an added advantage to have the visa. It’ll come in handy as and when your vessel is in US waters.

  4. If i ask for B1/B2visa when i will face for C1D visa interview should i prepare another seperate visa application form along with my C1D visa application form ?

  5. Mr Sellim,

    No, you do not require a separate application form. At the start of your interview, please mention it to the consular officer that you would also like to be considered for the B1/B2 visa along with your C1D application.

  6. Respected sir/mam
    i want to apply for us visa as i am in merchant navy . many companies are asking for us visa and they will recruit on basis of us visa . when i applied for us visa that is c1d for trading and crew member in that an option came for filling date of arrival and address of living , i have doubt on this i am fresher and i have no relative there in u.s so how i will apply for visa ? i am fresher marine engineer and without joining company i am not able to give the name and office of company but the companies are asking for u.s visa before only . please answer my question that how i will apply for visa without address ?
    hope for reply as soon as possible .

  7. Is it available only for Indians ?
    Also kindly illustrate the the conditions for candidates ? if it’s necessary to be applied by marine company in USA first ?

  8. Hello im going to interview for us visa on next month i complete verification company applyed everything they given me letter from that letter no agent name and address that is any problem in interview and what to tell if in they ask please help me

  9. Very important topic, Sir i want to go to US for 1 Month Marine training study, and i want my wife and a kid to join me on the trip, advice me what type of visa do i need, and whats the chance of getting the visa.
    Thank You.

  10. Sir,
    I am a fresher engine cadet and I am going to apply for dual C1D and B1/B2 visa.
    My question is that,for getting B1/B2 along with C1D.
    Do I need to show huge bank balance,property tie up and income tax return.
    Please clear this doubt.

  11. My name is chinmoy. I got a opportunity to work in the ncl cruise line. I have 5yrs valid US C1/d visa and my flight was from kolkata to doha n then doha to newyork. When I enter in doha to catch the next flight the immigration officer check and cancelled my US visa. Then I spoke to him why it’s cancelled? ,they were saying that they have information to cancel it. And they send me to Mumbai. My question is that if the visa validity is from Jan 2014 to Jan 2019 so how could they do this?

  12. I am getting offer first time to join cruise, it will sail in US water. Is it necessary to arrange STCW certificate & Seaman’s book at the time of visa interview. or can i do training after approval of visa

  13. Sir I have 5 years offshore experience I want to join in an main fleet, every company asking us visa.i am Muslim,my doubts is there was have any ristriction for Muslim coz one of my friend he working in Anglo eastern company as a fitter he applied in Mumbai us embassy 2 times he was rejected without reason,to compare him another seaman he can’t able to talk English properly but he get first attempt itself please Gide me sir,madam

  14. hello i’m from the philippines. i have a b1 us visa. can i join a ship in us ports? they say that i need to have c1d us visa but i think b1 us visa is enough. please enlighten me. thanks

  15. Sir. My question is what ig the contact pernson I put in the form is different from the guaranteed letter since the guaranteed letter came late prior to the encoding of the us visa application form… Is this very big issue? Do I have to change it again before interview? Tnx.

  16. @Sebin:
    I don’t think so. As the embassy requires the copy of seaman book (with original) as a part of documentation.

  17. Dear sir, what is the case of administrative processing for C1D visa, how long it takes to clear the processing. They approve the pending C1D visa or not? Pl confirm

  18. Is choosing hindi as a interview language.. . Can affect my chance of getting visa. Or I should go with English. Please clear this thing.

  19. During my interview the consulate has taken all may papers(passport,cdc,company invitation letter) but he didn’t assure me either my visa will approve or not.He told me after procceccing I will be contackted.but after 52 days my visa has been refused.what could be the reason?

  20. US visa procedures are in a complicated loop after Trump administration. I can’t tell you the exact reason though.

  21. I have permenant address in my CDC but passport has address of college where i studies.will i face any trouble in getting cid visa

  22. I have both C1/D and B1/B2 visa.Can i stay back in USA for vacation after Sign-off from USA,If possible, whats the procedure?

  23. As B2 is tourist visa, it should not be a problem. I will suggest to cross check this with your company’s travel desk.

  24. Dear sir or madam,
    My C1/D visa going to expire on january 2018. When i renewal C1/D. that time May i Possible to got also B1/B2 visa? if that possible if yes so please i request you advise of process how i got that.

    Thanks tou

  25. Hello! I’ve read you blog. I am a new hire. I will be working for Carnival Cruise Lines. I have a few questions Mr. Shilavadra Bhattacharjee.

    1. Do I need to pay another $160 for B1/B2 Visa?
    2. Do I have to make another DS 160 appointment for B1/B2?
    3. Do I need to show huge money in my bank more likely 10,000 USD to prove I can travel on my own?

    Thank you, answers are greatly appreciated.

  26. what if i m not married and then if they asked whether i m married or nor…. what answer should i give.

  27. sir i want to ask a simple question that on online a job offer letter is send to me on facebook messenger that i have to register under united state of america princess cruise ship agency and demanding a money $300.what to do i am totally confused,they had the offer letter and demands money but they didnt need any documents i had ask this he had told me that when i pay the amount then only he will tell me the required documents…as i am a drywall/spray painter/wood polisher from india.salary package he offer me $4500 montly+$200 weekly allowances…….sir can u help me in this matter….i willl very thankful to you…

  28. what are the changes in your circumstances from the last application?what we can say for this question in interview if we are applying for U.S visa again

  29. @Rahul: You can quote the positives about your personal, professional, and financial circumstances changes.

  30. This is 4th engineer without company contract letter is possible to apply usa visa can I apply ?

  31. Good day, may i ask sir, if your parents birthday is incorrect, will it affects the approval of us visa?

  32. is it possible to apply for the US C1 – D VISA even if the seafarer … holding the passport of restricted nations . such as syria-iran-iraq-yemen etc ???????

  33. They rejected me i dont know y bcoz they just ask me 3 question like why u going to us i said for job. Second ur rank i said whatever my rank was. Third for long time what were u doing. Can u help me in this

  34. sir i am seafarer and i have to apply us visa for joining ship .i am married but no spouse name added in my passport because i do not have marriage certificate .so please suggest me when i fill up us visa form so write there married or single.
    pls i am very doubtful.

  35. Hello sir
    I have a single name is that a problem for applying for U.S Visa?
    Please help me out

  36. Hello Sir, I need help. I want to find out is there a chance of obtaining a c1d visa outside your native country? With a work permit? Or is it compulsory I go back home to apply.

  37. I liked what you said about how getting a medical exam is easier when you have a valid visa. My cousin is getting married to a sailor from another country and they are looking to help him immigrate to the US. Thank you for the information about how he should get a work visa first and that will make it easier to see doctors and begin the process to immigrate.

  38. My C1/D visa going to expire in Nov 2018. When i renewal C1/D visa is it possible to get B1/B2 visa in the same fees? Or do I need to apply seperately!

  39. You can apply a combined C1d and B1/B2 Visa. I am not sure about the exact fees, but it might be slightly higher than regular C1/D Visa fee.

  40. heloo sir ,
    i am applying b1/b2 visa for my wife for joining ship . can you tell me faqs which they can ask from wife of a seafearer and answers which she should give .

  41. Hello, My US Visa is getting expired in Nov 2019 , When I can go for the renewal of the VIsa. Like is there any specific period for applying for renew of the Visa. Please help.


  42. What is this medical exam after the visa ?? Don’t they consider the medical reports from the company?

  43. Hi I have c1d visa and working in ccl..I would like to take my wife and kid to cruise for a week….can I apply b1b2 for them….is it possible to get….kindly reply..

  44. @Vamai: Are you talking about immigrant visa as C1D visa will not require any additional medical examination.

  45. @Jacob: C1/d visa allows you to join a vessel (or sign off) from US. It cannot be used as a tourist visa. if you wish to go as a tourist you will be required to apply for admission as a visitor on a B2 visa.

  46. Hi, my husband is a seafarer and I will be joining him on his commercial vessel as a passenger. Im eligible for ESTA, in this case do I need to get a B1/B2 Visa or ESTA would be good to go to shore?

  47. Please contact your husband’s shipping company office as different countries have different requirements and they can guide you better.

  48. hello sir my name ravi raut i have been applied for c1d for 2 time but it has been rejected under sector 214b they are saying that they want the changes in the form
    so what is solution for this sir

  49. @Ravi: Do you have a company joining letter, which says you are going to join a ship from US ports? With new rules and trump administration, getting US visa is getting difficult.

  50. Hello, anyone that can help me?
    I filled out today a request of renewal of my C1D visa that expired 27/10/2018. I gave to the agency all papers, both passports and the company’s letters that showed an emergency embarkation fo jan 7th.
    U think i ll be able to get my passport back with visa on the 5th of january.

    Waiting your reply

  51. please sir,i am goin to join my vessel for the first time and my visa is approved c1d please i hve to add some document with visa to usa

  52. Sir my name is Sanuj Bansal.
    My last vessel was a lightering vessel,but after 2 months ship went to Europe and I signed off. Now when I went for renewal of US visa they refused and again after 2 months I applied again and again they refused, when I asked the reason she said because of lightering vessel then I said mam it is mentioned in my company letter that this is not lightering vessel. Now what to do to get USA visa??

  53. @Sanju: It is very difficult to convince the US embassy person once they establish a point. Ask the company from assistance in terms of US visa if they have any ship plying in the US waters.

  54. hi sir ,can i travel with c1d visa issue march 2018 ,i was not able to join the vessel because the vessel i aquired the visa was under maintanace so the company has change the vessel for me,please can i travel with the same visa?

  55. pls sr my c1dvisa was approved jan 2018 because of family issue was able to join my vessel and year i will be joining what is the answer to tell immigration why this delay in your visa

  56. @Musa: It should not affect your visa. If asked, you should explain why there is a different address. However, they will not press on this issue.

  57. I’m 18 yrs working as seafarer and first time got a pending issuance even is a non appearance application .Embassy asked me to sent an supplemental form which indicated on my 221G letter .My question Is how long it takes or which section in embassy can I follow up my seaman visa

  58. I’m looking for a job, now I’m working in human resource department, I do have 6 yrs experience, please let me know details.

  59. My name is Bhanu Pratap Singh. I have valid US C1D visa and it is going to expire in Jan 2019. How should I renew it .

  60. Hi, i had recently applied for US visa and same was put on administrative hold. The consulate has requested for police clearance certificate. Can you provide some information on this.

  61. I followed all suggestions mentioned here but still got rejected without any reason assigned!

  62. Hello sir I am a seafarer.my visa will exp at 2019 nov.so nowI renew my crew visa! This.is in administrative process.so I lostmy job and what should I do.

  63. @Thetzaw: If all the documents are in place and there are no issues, it won’t take much time to get the visa.

  64. @Rehan: The suggestions provided in the article is not the ultimate list. US embassy authority can approve or reject visa application based on several other reasons.

  65. @Waseem: Please contact the nearest police authority as they need to do the verification on the embassy behalf.

  66. Sir I’m currently an employee of Royal caribbean, have everything, company cover letter, stcw certificates, cdc but my visa got rejected under section 214(b) and it was my first attempt. Will this affect on my employment, can royal caribbean terminate employment because of this. Please help me. Although I have sent them additional document which can show strong ties to my residential country.

  67. Hi …. Signing off from an Iranian Port and hoping to apply for the US visa for the first time right after. Will there be any issues. Kindly advise

  68. @Nancy: If your cruise ship is US-bound, it might be an issue. However, RCC does have cruise plying other destination.

  69. Hello! I would like to know how long more or less would take to release the US Visa after the interview? Thanks

  70. I have c1 d USA Visa and I had given for renewal but after 6 day they message me to pick my documents. After I see my passport they don’t put Visa on it and asking for finger print. So they is any serious problem

  71. @Nikul Chauhan: If they are saying rejected, then it is an issue. If they only need your finger print to issue the visa, please do so

  72. @Harpal: You need to ask your company to assist in this matter as b1b2 is a tourist visa for leisure in a ship. If you are applying on your own, you need to ask the visa officer to club b1b2 visa with your C1d visa. Be ready to justify your request.

  73. Hi..i m going to aaply for c1d visa for joining vessel…
    So what i need to do to get b1/b2 visa along with c1/d…
    Or my company have to make any change
    Pleas help me

  74. Seafarer is onboard the vessel and they are going to work in US water within 5-6 weeks but they are no valid us visa.Is it okay to work as seafarer in US water even they have no valid C1/d or B1 ocs visa or they need to disembark before the vessel go to US Waters?

    THQ U

  76. my visa got expired in march can i get sign off from us? i heard they escort u to the airport with a guard… my vessel is going us in august.

  77. Hello
    I received for 2 times,c1/d Seaman transit Visa,last time in July 2008
    Is possible to renew online,without other interview,in case to have valid new employer NT letter
    Thank you
    Marius Duna-International Maritime Officer

  78. how do i pay for the b1/b2 clubbed visa i already paid for the c1/d waiting for appointment now.

  79. I am seafarer and I have lost my passport along with US visa. My visa is also got expired. I have to go for interview or drop box..??

  80. It is recommended to contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance in obtaining a new visa and for guidance on the appropriate next steps for your interview or drop box submission.

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