Marrying in the US on a C1-D Visa
Crew members who entered the US on a C1-D visa or C1 status and marry an American citizen routinely call for help. The crew member has been in the US many years. Sometimes, the foreign crew member hesitates to discuss with the American fiance his or her immigration status. The problem with overstaying on a C1-D crew visa is complicated and not easy to explain to the American spouse.
C1-D Visa Limitation
The C1-D crewman visa is for the purpose of working as a crew member on a ship or plane. INA §245(c) prohibits someone entering the US as a crew member from adjusting status to become a US permanent resident green card holder based on the marriage. Were it otherwise, many crew members would jump ship and remain in the US. This could interrupt our travel industry.
Overstaying on the C1-D Visa
Those who enter on a C1-D crew member visa normally have a maximum lawful stay in the US of 29 days. Those who do not leave on time normally remain in the US for many years before meeting a fiance who is a US citizen or permanent resident green card holder.
There is a particular provision of law which penalizes all foreigners who remain in the US unlawfully for more than 180 days before departing the US. See, INA §212(a)(9)(B)(i)(I) for those foreigners who are unlawfully present in the US for more than 180 days, and §Section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II) for those who are unlawfully present in the US for 1 year or longer. The bars from the US trigger upon departure. In that event, a hardship waiver might be possible to put the couple back together in the US.
So, the quandary for the foreign crew member is that they cannot adjust status in the US based on marriage to an American, but also they are barred if they depart the US to try and obtain a marriage visa or fiance visa abroad at an overseas consulate post. The strong preference is to remain in the US and fight it out somehow.
We often can plan an immigration strategy depending on the exact manner of entry into the US. Sometimes, crew members are flying into Miami. LAX, or elsewhere to take up a job. In other cases, the most recent entry was by ship, landing in the US after being in the Caribbean or Hawaii. Any ship more than 12 miles out to sea is in international waters. So, the most recent entry is the most recent time you entered the US either by plane or by ship after being in international waters.
The entry process is varied. Often, a port inspector will pull the crew member into secondary inspection and want to see the contract or the reason for entering the US. On other occasions, the entry is quick and uneventful. There is the C1-D stamp, C1 stamp, and D2 stamp. I need to first understand the exact manner of entry. An immigration plan can be developed based on the details to see whether there is a way to avoid the penalties of the crewman status.
Immigration officers are trained to screen for misrepresentation when processing a crew member on a green card, marriage visa, or fiance visa. An immigration officer will likely bar a crew member from the US if the officer believes the crew member jumped ship. Essentially, there was a fraud at the port inspection. The crew member really did not intend to stay with the ship or go home after the contract has ended. So, any case screening should take into account the possibility of a misrepresentation bar.
Fortunately, our office has good success in working through issues involving crew members with C1-D visas who marry in the US and want to obtain a green card. We are aware of split jurisdictions in the US in grappling with reentry issues on parole as well as with mis-designation of status by immigration officers, and how that plays out in court. As such, we develop excellent strategies for you and can explain immigration to the American spouse so that you may proceed with your lives together.
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C1-D Visa Overstay
Hi my name is Vinod I’m from India working in a ship and I found my love here in the ship and we want to get married but I have C1D visa and my lover is US green card holder. Can you tell me if we get married on board can I get any visa to go to his home in usa and how much time it will take to get that visa.
Waiting to hear from you .
Allan Lolly, Esq. says
Greetings Vinod, Please check to ensure that a marriage aboard ship will be lawful for US immigration purposes. Normally, a ship’s captain is authorized to perform a lawful marriage. But, that may depend on the flag of the ship, where it’s registered. The captain should have an idea about this. It would also help to obtain evidence that the captain is authorized to perform a lawful marriage according to the laws governing that ship. Get details from the ship’s steward because we may need the legal authority to prove this to be a lawful marriage and not a ceremonial one. Once married, an LPR can help you obtain a marriage visa through Delhi or Mumbai. Currently, the F2A category for an LPR petitioner has no waiting period, which means no extra delay in case processing. As such, a marriage visa through India is currently taking us about 12 months from the time we file until your visa appointment at a US consulate in India. In the meantime, you likely can continue working on board ship even if porting into the US. You are welcome to call to discuss at +1.858.483.0311 if interested in working with me on case processing. I hope to hear from you. Kind regards, Allan
Hi, I came to US with C1 visa. I was a crew member and when the contract finish, they send me home country but I didn’t leave US and stay in US with asylum status since 2018. But I recently got married with US citizen and wanted to apply greed card. Lawer said I can’t apply greed card even though I married with citizen because I came to US with C1 visa as a crew member. And he told me to go out of US and come back to take a risk. it there any chance I don’t need to go out of US and apply greed card?
Allan Lolly, Esq. says
Mimi, The answer is unclear based on what you wrote. You likely cannot adjust status stateside under current rules if you completed your contract and were discharged from the ship at or near the US port of entry transiting to an airport to return home. The details of your disembarkation and transit are important. Sometimes, there are peculiar situations we can leverage in order to do stateside adjustment. There is also the possibility of reentering the US under advance parole based on your asylum claim and proceeding with stateside adjustment. There normally is very little risk in doing so if you can obtain such a parole document properly. Have you been advised by your current attorney regarding advance parole connected with your asylum claim? There is also the possibility of a hardship waiver if you were to consular process. We handle all such matters in our office.
I encourage you to first see if you can work things out with your current attorney. That attorney is also welcome to contact me to discuss if he or she is interested. Otherwise, call us directly if you decide you may be interested in working with our office instead. Kind regards, Allan
Hey Allen I come to the states to travel for work and didn’t go been here for 6 months now what the best way to adjust my status
Allan Lolly, Esq. says
Gio, If you cleared inspection as a crew member, then you would have been granted status in the US for up to 29 days. With few exceptions, you are prevented from applying to change that C1-D crew person status to another status such as an F1 student status or B2 visitor status. Adjustment of status is for immigrant intent such as based on marriage to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident green card holder. Even then, a crew member entry is normally prevented from adjusting status based on such a marriage. An exception would be a compelling argument that you did not enter the US as a crew member and the designation on your entry documents is in error. Asylum or a U visa as a victim of a crime is another way to overcome the defective entry. If no such options apply, then it is likely best that you depart the US before accruing 180 days of unlawful presence in order to avoid a 3 year unlawful presence bar. In essence, anything you do must be in line with the interests of the US government. As it stands, crew members are prevented from immigration options when they jump ship. Otherwise, an incentive to jump ship would cause catastrophe for our international travel industry. Please consider whether you might have valid immigration options and I’m glad to discuss. Marriage is a good basis for discussing a strategy with you. Kind regards, Allan
I’m a US citizen,, I have met a young lady from Zimbabwe she is a worker on a cruise ship in the United States we are planning to get married on March the 14th 2023 she came here on a C1D Visa… After we become married will she be able to stay after her contract is over or do she have to go back home???
Allan Lolly, Esq. says
Derilyn, It seems that you must be marrying soon, this coming April 14th. Congratulations. Crew members are generally barred from remaining in the US on a C1 or C1-D entry, but that depends on her situation involving work as a crew member. If she plans to continue working after marriage, then it’s best to have her consular process on a marriage visa so that when she arrives in the US she will already be preapproved for a green card based on your marriage. This may be your best option with the least amount of resistance. You are welcome to call to discuss at 858.483.0311 if you are interested in working with me on case processing. Kind regards, Allan
Rosario Huapaya says
Hello, my name is Rosario. I came to USA on February 2016, I entered the country with a C1D Visa (it was my 4th time) but I didn’t join the ship due to personal reasons. I’m very aware of my situation due to my kind of Visa, I’ve read all your articles about how hard (but not impossible) it is to change my status and the waiver I’ll need to apply eventually.. so unfortunately, I’m very aware of how difficult my Visa is. Now, I’m about to get married to an American Citizen soon, we are very in love and he already knows how bad my Visa is. I’m very interested in working with you if you think I have a chance to fix my situation.. specially because now I have a 4 years old boy who was born here and I don’t want to stay away from him. Thank you very much
Allan Lolly, Esq. says
Rosario, Congratulations on your marriage plans. US citizen children live all over the world. So, having a child will not, by itself, qualify your US citizen future husband for a hardship waiver. However, I cannot tell based on the summary whether or not you might avoid the need for a hardship waiver. Also, I’ve been working with clients on hardship waivers for many years and we’re pretty good at getting approvals, excellent in fact. It’s worth a phone call so that I may understand your situation and help figure out a strategy that works. I hope to hear from you. Allan