Seasoned seafarers know that having a C1/D US Visa is a huge plus for our employment.
Most shipping agencies nowadays prefer to hire seafarers with Schengen Visa and US Visa. Both are very enticing to them, especially the latter one.
However, it is not always glorious success in applying for a United States Visa. Even if you do your homework and memorize all the possible questions your company gives you, you may still be denied it.
I already had three US visa appointments and two of them were a success.
To help you prepare for the interview, I previously shared my successful US visa application and renewal experience. Go ahead and click the green bold link to see it.
I will never forget my very first US visa application. It was an epic failure. Even if ten years have passed, I can still vividly remember the heartbreaking pain during that fateful morning.
My company made all of the paperwork. They only gave me a few questionnaires to get familiar with.
I was a cadet back then. I memorized and understood all those three-paged questionnaires written back to back.
Some of my friends were scheduled before me. They passed with flying colors. I asked for tips and they told me the questions thrown to them.
I woke up 5am in the morning. My boarding house was in San Andres, Manila so it was quite near.
With my schedule at 7am, I was already there past 6am. I was looking good with my neat haircut.
We lined up and waited for our turn. When it was my time for the interview, I was nervous but I managed to compose myself in front of the consulate.
The interviewer asked me all sorts of questions.
What’s your name? Tell me about yourself. Is this your first time? What does a cadet do on board? What is navigation? Do you have any relatives living in the US?
I answered all of them especially the last one which I proudly declared,
“None, sir. I don’t have any relatives living in the US.”
He kept on typing on his computer for a few moments while I was nervously standing in front of his booth wearing my snappy cadet uniform.
Soon, with a very cold voice, while looking at me in the eye, he said,
“I’m sorry but I must DECLINE your visa application. I checked my database but I just couldn’t find your vessel on any of our US ports nor its history of visits thereof.”
“This is not your fault. You did well. Please tell your company about this so they may know.”
When I heard those words, my body felt heavy. I couldn’t say anything and just went to the exit.
What Would My Company Say?
I felt very sad. But I didn’t blame anyone. I can still see in my head those applicants who passed and went out very alive.
Flashes of thoughts keep on pouring in.
“What would my company say? Would they charge me because I failed? Can I still go on board?
I kept on thinking many things until I realized I was already in front of our office.
It was a long walk from the United States Embassy to my company near Sherwood Taft. But somehow, it felt quick.
Inside, I reported directly to my processor. Then she sent me to the owner’s representative. I told him what happened and the reason why I was denied the US Visa.
He was calm and assured me that things like that happen. After a few conversations, he called the guy in charge of processing the visa.
He told him to get me another schedule for my next appointment.
I was told to be on standby for my next schedule. True enough, I was given a slot for my second interview after three weeks.
This time, they assigned me on a vessel with a US voyage.
At the embassy, almost the same question was asked though from a different consul.
She was kind and before I could get to her, almost all of the applicants on her line passed the final interview.
I too shared their fate and was approved for my very first C1/D US visa application.
You know that feeling when you achieve something very important for the very first time in your life? It was one of those moments! When I reported to my manning agency, I just said that I passed and they congratulated me.
Was I Able to Use My US Visa?
Our C1/D visa has an expiration of 5 years. But during the time when mine was still active, I was not able to set foot on any US soil- even on the jetty.
It was quite expensive for them to get me a US visa yet assigned me to an actual vessel not traveling to the United States. Most of my voyages were within the North Sea and the Baltic.
However, when my visa expired, my ship visited the Land of Dreams- America, just after a few months! It’s really ironic how things turned out at that time.
We stayed on port for 3 days but I was not able to go ashore.
And now that I have a second US visa, my vessel’s trading port again is only within Europe. But it’s okay for me since I can have access to the internet using Three SIM cards whenever we are near land.
Lately, they even gave me a free 12 Gigabyte one month internet!
Hope you pass your next visa interview.
May the winds be in your favor.