Guide to the D1 Visa

Posted by Frank Gogol

Working on a cruise ship while traveling or soaring the international skies as an air hostess is a dream for many. It is a great way to see the world and make some money at the same time. There are many opportunities out there for you to pursue, but before you just apply, make sure you plan well and know what to expect. 

If you are traveling to the U.S. as part of this dream job, you will need a D1 visa. What exactly is a D1 visa, how do you get it, and does it cost any money? These are all very relevant questions which we’ll answer below. 

What is a D1 Visa? 

A D1 visa is commonly referred to as a crewmember visa. This is a nonimmigrant visa for persons who work for international airlines or on commercial sea vessels in the U.S. The D1 visa is only for persons who perform services required for normal operations and is only available to people who intend to depart the U.S. within 29 days of their arrival. 

If you are traveling to the U.S. only to join a vessel you will be working on, you will also receive a C1 visa or a combination C1/D visa.

Who Qualifies for a D1 Visa?  

You qualify for a D1 visa if you: 

  • Work on board of a commercial sea vessel or international aircraft
  • You work as a crew member for normal operations and services, and
  •  You intend to depart the U.S. on the same or a different vessel within 29 days of arriving. 

The following types of personnel can apply for a D1 visa:

  • Trainee on board a training vessel
  • A captain, engineer or deckhand on a sea vessel
  • A lifeguard, cook, waiter, beautician or other service staff on a commercial cruise ship
  • A pilot or flight attendant on a commercial airplane. 

You will not qualify for a D1 visa in the following circumstances:

  • Fishing Vessel – if you are a temporary crewmember on a fishing vessel that has the U.S. as its home port or operating base. In such a case, you must apply for an H2 visa.
  • Dry Dock – if dry dock repairs under warranty (while the board is docked at a U.S. port) is the primary services you will be performing. In this case, you will need a B1 visa.
  • Private Yacht – if you are a crew member on a private yacht that is sailing out of a foreign port but will be cruising in U.S. waters for more than 29 days, you will need a B-1 visa.
  • Coasting Officer – if you are a replacement coasting officer who is employed where an officer of a foreign vessel (not remaining in U.S. waters for more than 29 days) is granted home leave. In this scenario, you will also need a B1 visa.
  • Outer Continental Shelf – if you are a crew member going to the Outer Continental Shelf, you will need a B1 visa. 

Require Documents for a D1 Visa

You will need the following documents to apply for your D1 visa:

  • Passport: Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your planned stay in the U.S.
  • Form DS-160 confirmation page: this is the page that confirms you’ve submitted your Form DS-160 online (see below.)
  • Payment receipt: if you are required to pay your application fee before your interview, take your receipt as proof of payment.
  • Photo: if your photo upload failed when you filled out the Form DS-160 (see below), you need to take one printed photo with you to the interview. For details on the photo requirements, take a look here.

At your D1 visa interview, the consular officer might request additional documents. This can include the following documents or evidence: 

  • Evidence that you are transiting to meet a vessel. You can use a letter from your employer to show this.
  • Documents or evidence relating to the purpose of your trip.
  • Evidence of your ability to pay for all the costs of your trip. If you can’t cover the cost of your trip, you can bring proof that someone else will cover it on your behalf.
  • Documents or evidence showing your intent to depart the U.S. when your trip is over. If you want to show your plan to return to your home country after your trip, bring documents that demonstrate social, economic, and family ties. These documents can include a marriage certificate, a contract of sale or lease of property, or evidence of employment in your home country, for example, your employment contract or payslips. 

How to Apply for a D1 Visa

Applying for a D1 visa is quick and easy. Here is the breakdown of the steps you’ll need to follow:

  • Step 1: Complete the Form DS-160 online. You can do this at the following website: Make sure you print the confirmation page once you’ve submitted it as you’ll need to take it to your visa interview.
  • Step 2: Create your online account on the Official U.S. VISA information and appointment services at the following website:
  • Step 3: Pay the application fee online. Note this fee is non-refundable. 
  • Step 4: Schedule your D1 visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are 13 years or younger or 80 years or older, this is generally not required. The waiting times for interview appointments will depend on your location, the season, and the embassy or consulate you are applying to. 
  • Step 5: Attend your visa interview and make sure you take all the required documents with you as we’ve listed them above. You can also read more about how to prepare for your visa interview here.

If your visa application is approved, your visa will be issued in 2 to 3 working days. Your passport will be forwarded to DHL. After another 3 working days, your passport will be available to collect at the DHL location you selected when you applied online. This will be about 5 working days after the interview. If you chose for your passport to be delivered at your home, it will take a few days longer to deliver. You will receive an e-mail from DHL with instructions on how to pick up your passport once it is ready for collection. 

If your visa is denied, you will get your passport back directly after your visa interview. You will also receive a letter that explains why your visa was denied. 

D1 Visa Cost?

The Form DS-160 filing fee is $160. This fee is non-refundable.  

D1 Visa Processing Time

If you had all the required documents and you passed your visa interview, getting your D1 visa will be quite quick. It will take about 3 to 5 working days, or 2 weeks at most, to get your D1 visa. 

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Getting a D1 visa shouldn’t stand in between you and your dream to work and travel around the world. The process to get a D1 visa is quick and easy. If you prepare well, you could be off to your dream job in less than 2 weeks! So, what are you waiting for?

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