Adjust Status on a C1-D Crew Visa
A C1-D Visa is a crew visa used by foreigners working on cruise ships, fishing vessels, yachts, and airlines.
Often, it happens that a crewmember disembarks and remains in the U.S. Many crewmembers eventually marry U.S. citizens and then try to obtain green cards stateside based on marriage.
Status Adjustment Limits
INA 245(c) generally prevents a foreigner who entered the U.S. on a C1-D visa from changing status to any other visa status or green card while remaining in the U.S. Allowing crewmembers to jump ship and remain in the U.S. is dangerous for the U.S. economy. There are tens of thousands of foreign workers transiting the U.S. on an ongoing basis. If the U.S. government allowed crewmembers to remain in the U.S. legally, this could disrupt our travel industry. Therefore INA 245(c) limits opportunities for foreign crewmembers.
If a C1-D visa holder applies for a green card based on marriage and is denied, the foreigner can be put into removal proceedings. An immigration judge will typically order the foreigner removed and issue a court-ordered deportation bar from the U.S. Also, if the foreigner was in the U.S. unlawfully for more than one year (after age 18) there is an additional 10 year bar based on unlawful presence. The deportation and unlawful presence bars apply, regardless of marriage to a U.S. citizen.
I often receive phone calls from foreigners in the U.S. who have C1-D crew visas and married U.S. citizens or green card holders in the U.S. There are two basic steps.
- I examine the most recent entry to the U.S. to determine whether the CBP border agent made a mistake when allowing the foreigner to pass into the U.S. on the C1-D visa. In most cases, I can make a good argument that the foreigner should be able to adjust status stateside despite the C1-D visa class. It’s up to the border agent to properly document the entry status, so any mistakes by a CBP officer can be exploited, to the advantage of the married couple. If successful, I can avoid triggering the unlawful presence bar and obtain a green card stateside.
- Failing step one above, I will examine hardships to determine the chance of success in obtaining an I-601 or I-601A bar waiver based on hardships.
Call for Assistance — When calling the office, please try and have your passport, I-94 card, if any, and any other entry documents such as your crew contract. It helps to be in a quiet place so we can talk freely since I will need to dig into some details and help sort out an immigration plan.