C-1/D Pilots and Other Crewmembers


The C-1/D visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa that provides for a combination of C-1 Transit and D Crewmember activities. Crewmembers such as pilots and other staff ordinarily required for the operation of a commercial aircraft can apply for this visa directly at a U.S. Consulate outside of the United States.

Requirements for C-1/D Visa Eligibility

Under Section 101(a)(15)(D)(i) of the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA), certain persons working on board commercial sea vessels (ex. captain, engineer, deckhand, lifeguard, cook, waiter, beautician, or other service staff on a cruise ship) or international airlines (ex. pilot or flight attendant) must meet all of the following requirements to qualify:

  • Serve in a capacity that is required for normal operation and service of the sea vessel or international aircraft
  • Intend to land temporarily (i.e. nonimmigrant intent)
  • Intend to land temporarily (i.e. nonimmigrant intent)
  • Intends to depart from the United States on an international trip within 29 days of each arrival

More information can be found in the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual at 9 FAM 402.8.

Beware of the National Interest Waiver Scam for Pilots

During the pandemic, certain less reputable organizations falsely claimed that pilots qualified for permanent resident green cards or immigrant visas based upon a “National Interest Waiver” due to the shortage of pilots in the United States. Unfortunately, pilots do not qualify for a National Interest Waiver. Even if pilots did qualify, this process generally takes 2-3 years during which time the individual would not have a basis to be in the United States, absent pursuing a C-1/D nonimmigrant visa or other U.S. immigration strategy.

The generally appropriate long-term U.S. immigration strategy for an immigrant visa and a permanent resident green card for pilots would generally be through PERM Labor Certification.

The above is informational and not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with an experienced business immigration attorney on your specific facts and circumstances before proceeding with any U.S. immigration strategy.