A US Visa in your arsenal is like one of the infinity stones that would tame any company you’re applying into.
You can find many shipping agencies in the streets of Kalaw and over the internet looking for seafarers with a C1/D US Visa.
Having this document is one of the surest way to get hired.
Why C1-D Visa?
A seafarer’s US visa is a non-immigrant visa classified as C-1/D type.
The US government issues different types of visas for different purposes like business, tourist, students, media and many others.
In our case, we are issued a combination of a C-1 and D visa.
C-1 types are for those who are transiting the United States. D visa on the other hand is issued to ships and airline crews.
D visa (and C-1/D visa holders) enable a person to stay in the United States territory for a maximum of 29 days.
Seamen applying for a C1D visa don’t really have to do much preparation. Your company will make the necessary paper works in your behalf.
However, you must submit a 2×2-sized ID picture at least 2 pieces wearing polo shirt and in white background.
Your company will prepare and submit the requirements. During the interview, you will have to bring all these items for verification:
- Completed Form DS-160.
- Proof of Payment (Deposit Slip)
- 2×2 ID Picture
- Valid Passport
- Valid Seaman’s Book
- Guarantee Letter
- Appointment Confirmation
Your manning agency will give you these requirements prior to your visa schedule. You won’t have to prepare anything other than mentally and emotionally ready yourself.
Application fee for C-1/D visa is USD160.00 converted in Philippine Peso. It is non-refundable and non-transferable whether you pass or not.
As of this writing, the amount my company paid was Php 8,640.00. A Php 54.00-exchange rate was used.
Payment is thru Bank of the Philippine islands (BPI) or BancNet if you have an online banking account.
To avoid inconvenience and forfeiture of your appointment, do not bring these items inside the embassy premises.
- Any kind of electronic and battery-operated devices (mobile phones, laptop, cameras, thumb drives, e-readers, and the like.
- Lighter and any flame-generating device.
- Sharp objects including army-style multi-tool accessories.
- Crayons and markers
- Any kind of food including chewing gum
- Any device with an On/Off switch.
However, there are selected food items inside the waiting area which you can purchase if hungry.
Your agency can book your US Visa appointment 15 days after they completed the requirements and paying the USD160.00. 15 days is the standard visa appointment wait times for non-imimigrat visa types.
Be at the embassy at least 15 minutes before your schedule. Bring only the requirements given by your shipping company.
The interview is one of the most feared part for many of our seafarers undergoing their first US visa application. Based on my experience, it’s easier to get approved for a Schengen Visa than a US visa.
Applicants will undergo three steps to determine the fate of their visa. It consists of pre-screening, biometrics and the final interview.
You will fall in line inside the embassy assisted by Filipinos working there. Follow their instructions diligently and ask questions if you don’t understand something.
The first window is manned by Filipinos working in the embassy. They will check your documents for authenticity and completeness.
These guys will ask some questions like whether this is your first application or not including the expiration of your previous US VISA.
Once approved, you will proceed to the next step which is biometrics.
Here, an American consul will take your biometrics. He will also ask you some small questions while checking your credentials in his computer.
His last instruction will be to position your fingers in a scanner in front of you. That’s his main job.
When he had taken a good image of your fingerprints, you can now proceed to the final interview.
This is the last hurdle of your C1/D US visa application. If you fail this step, then all your efforts will be wasted including the payment fee of USD160.00.
Passing the final interview is a combination of luck and chance.
I have faced three US Visa applications in my career already, one of which was a big failure which I’m going to talk about later on.
On the final interview, the consul will ask you many things he randomly thinks of. Most of these questions are personal ones like your name, age, address, ship board experience, whether this is your first time application or not, relatives in the US and many others.
In my case, I was only asked five questions.
- My name.
- Years of shipboard experience.
- Job on board.
VERY IMPORTANT TIP!
You will fall in line and will be randomly assigned to an interviewer. CHOOSE a consul which looks jolly and in good mood.
More importantly, line up in a consul where most of the applicants passed the interview. Avoid those who occasionally denies applicants.
You can see which of them are giving a very high passing rate and which are denying people. You can even overhear their questions.
Applicants who pass are high in spirits while those who fail normally walks with heads bowed and shoulders slightly bent forward.
Fortunately, the rate of passers in the final interview is very high. But no matter how high it is, even if its 95% or 99%, if that 1% failure is you, these statistics will still be heartbreaking like what happened to me before.
C1/D Visa Renewal
The renewal process of your expired C1/D visa is much like the same when applying for the first time.
Your company will do much of the preparation and all you have to do is pass the final interview.
But the renewal of US visa gives you much higher chance of passing than for first timers.
There is, however, an option that seafarers are entitled for non-appearance when renewing their C1/D Visa.
Seafarer Visa Reissuance Program (SeaVRP)
The Seafarer Visa Reissuance Program is for non-immigrant applicants which expedites the appointment process of their C1/D visa.
Seamen who qualifies this program are given a possibility of waived interview and appearance provided that they meet the following conditions.
- Be a Philippine passport holder.
- Possess a full-validity (5 years) C1/D visa that is either still valid or has expired within the last 12 months.
- Have no visa refusal in any visa class since the last issuance.
- Have no criminal history.
- Belong to an accredited manning agency.
Your company will be the one to take care of everything for the SeaVRP procedures. All you need to do is submit a 2×2-sized ID picture.
US Visa for Seaman. Can I apply one on my own?
Seafarers can apply for a C1/D US visa even if they are not under any shipping agency. There is no U.S. law prohibiting seamen to apply on their own.
However, they will still have to provide the same documents listed above including a valid contract and letter of guarantee from their employer.
They must meet the same standards as the other applicants.
How was your US visa application and renewal experience?
May the winds be on your favor.