U.S. Law Center

What type of visa do I need if I work on a ship?

If you work on certain types of ships or are part of an international airline crew and plan to travel to California, you may qualify for a crewmember visa. These are nonimmigrant visas and are also known as type D visas. You can apply for a crewmember visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy, according to the U.S. Department of StateBureau of Consular Affairs.

In order to obtain the visa, you will need to:

  •         Make sure you have all of the required documentation
  •         Fill out a visa application online, including uploading a photo
  •         Pay the required fee
  •         Attend an in-person visa interview

People who are older than 79 and younger than 14 may be able to skip the interview portion of the application process. The crewmember visa allows you entry into the United States, but requires you to leave the country within 29 days. You can leave on same vessel on which you entered the country or on a different vessel.

Some types of ship employees may not be eligible for a crewmember visa. For instance, if you work on a private yacht or are employed on a fishing boat, you may need to apply for a different category of visa. Service employees on cruise ships, people who work on sea vessels or are part of a training vessel crew are all usually eligible for crewmember visas. As with many types of visas, crewmembers who are citizens of Bermuda and Canada are not required to apply to travel in the United States. This is provided as general information on this topic and is not intended to be legal advice.

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