Lately Shipping Companies have been asking the Candidates to apply for their US Visa themselves, this probably is required because of form DS-160 which requires to be electronic signed (i.e. clicking on the "Sign Application" box) by the applicant. So I too was requested to apply self for the US Visa. Twice I had the US Visa which expired recently so this third time applying was done myself. This Post intends to help the Indian Merchant Navy sailors in applying for their US C 1/D nonimmigrant visas (NIV). For other types of Visa you can check their relevant Site https://www.vfs-usa.co.in .
I will try to give the details and experience of applying till I receive/rejection of Visa. I will apply for US Visa from US Consulate Kolkata and hence some links might be of that website, however there might be some differences in other Consulate (e.g. Mumbai US Consulate requires your Documents to be dropped at VFS three days prior C1/D Visa Interview date). If there are any difference to this, request the users to post the changes and their experience of other Consulate.
Jotting down the points with explanations where required.
 Maritime people need to apply for US C 1/D Visa under nonimmigrant visa (NIV).
* Please refer
 Determine your Consular district from New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. Since I am from Jharkhand , for me it is Kolkata.
* Please refer
 Have your Digital Photograph ready. The Digital photo needs to be of a particular specification e.g. photo has to be .jpg file between 600x600 and 1200x1200 pixels, less than 240kbs, not digitally altered and with white background. For scanned photos please follow below links.
* Please refer
 Fill the Online DS-160 Form.
• From Feb 2010 you need to fill online DS-160 form which replaces the previous forms like DS-156, DS-157, DS-158. You can start filling DS-160 at the following link : https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/ .
• You need to upload the Digital Photograph while submitting the form, test the same and then Upload. The form consists of different sections including :
# Address and Phone
# Travel Companions
# Previous U.S. Travel
# U.S. Contact
# Work / Education / Training
# Security and Background
• Each section has set of details to be filled (self explanatory) with explanations/tips on the right side of the page.
• Once you start filling the form, each form is assigned an Application ID. Please note this Id for retrieval of incomplete but saved DS-160 Form.
• With each "Next"click the data is saved and the incomplete form can be later retrieved from the same above link.
• Keep your documents handy specially the Passport while filling the Form.
• Your US Visa Number (if issued earlier) is the red number on the previous issued C1/D Visa (Bottom right of Visa).
• Before submitting the completed form you will be asked to revise the same and then confirm. In the end a confirmation page with the CEAC Barcode will be generated.
• You only need to print this confirmation page with the CEAC Barcode. If you are wondering like me, what is CEAC, lets focus first on filling the form :-)
• If there is still an error in filling DS-160 form, please do not panic !!! Once you have confirmed and submitted the form you cannot edit the same filled form. However, you can always fill a fresh DS-160 form and generate the CEAC Barcode again.
• Please email the confirmation page to your E-mail Id also. This will be your backup if ever you loose the hard copy of this confirmation page.
• The form has one bugging thing of getting timed out after 15-20 minutes. This is done for security reasons, in which an alert box will open and ask you to confirm "OK". To prevent your entered data getting lost, do remember to click "Save" button intermittently.
• While it is possible to fill the form in breaks and save for later recovery I highly recommend it filling it in one go, if possible.
* Please refer
 Pay the Fees at the nearest HDFC Bank and get visa fee receipt in duplicate with 10 digit barcode number affixed to it.
• Presently you can pay the fees only at the Certain HDFC Bank at following Cities
# NEW DELHI
The most updated list and address can be found at https://www.vfs-usa.co.in/USIndia/pdf/HDFC%20Locationsfeescenter.pdf
• The payment amount is total 6960 INR. (Visa Fee - $140/INR 6580, VFS service charge – INR 359 and HDFC Bank Charges – INR 21). No points for calculating the conversion rate = 47 :-)
• Carry the photocopy of the 1st page of your Passport and give your name as given in Passport.
• Confirm that receipt has 10 digit barcode number affixed to it and is readable as you will need this to schedule Interview appointment for your C1/D Visa.
• Wait for one working day after payment, for scheduling appointment for C1/D Visa Interview.
• You will be required to submit the Embassy copy at the Embassy / Consulate, on the day of your Interview.
• Obviously the fees is non refundable and valid only till 1 year from the Payment date.
* Please refer
 Schedule your appointment for Interview date for C1/D Visa at https://www.vfs-usa.co.in/ApplnForms/RegularUser.aspx
• The same link is used for canceling appointment date, modifying Courier Address and Downloading the appointment Letter.
• You can also check the availability of earliest date at your nearest Consulate from the below links.
• Take a printout of the VFS appointment letter and remember the details submitted as the same will be required for downloading it again if this hardcopy/printout is lost.
* Please refer
 On the Interview date carry the following Documents
• Passport (valid for at least six months beyond your interview date) and previously issued passports,
• Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC),
• One recent (within the past six months) photograph 50mm X 50mm (2" x 2") with a white background (explained in point ),
• DS-160 confirmation page with CEAC Barcode (explained in point ),
• Valid HDFC Bank visa fee receipt (explained in point  - Embassy copy)
• Original VFS appointment letter (Interview appointment letter explained in point )
• original letter issued by shipping company stating the purpose of travel, itinerary, local agent’s name and address in US.
* Please refer
 If you still want to know more then the list of Frequently asked questions are there.
* Please refer
And lastly for the curious ones CEAC Barcode probably stands for Consular Electronic Application Center Barcode :-) . Best Of luck for your Interview.
Just found links of https://www.vfs-usa.co.in is not working with Firefox browser .
When tried the Internet Explorer however the same works. Also found the note at bottom of the pages :
"The Site is Best Viewed With Internet Explorer 6.0 and Above at a Resolution 1024 X 768" .
Thought it might be helpful for someone.
Point  of this post already covers the documents required to carry during US C1/D Visa Interview. I wanted to add about Mobile/Cell phone here.
While the Interview letter advised not to bring any Electronic devices including Mobile phones but the security people were considerate with the Mobile phones. I saw a lot of people being requested just to switch off the Mobile phones and I missed my phone then. Trust we all will agree that in case of any missing documents during C1/D Visa interview, we would love to have the Mobile phone with us.
Thought this informtion might be helpful to someone.
Questions asked to me during US C1/D Visa
Q1. You have applied for reissue of your Visa ?
Reply : Yes Sir.
Q2. What is your Rank onboard ship ?
A2. Chief Officer.
Q3. Which ship are you joining ?
A3. M.T. XYZ.
Q4. What kind of a ship is that ?
A4. It is a tanker carrying petrol.
Q5. From which port are you joining ?
A5. Port Pascagoula
Q6. That is in Lousiana right ?
A6. Yes Sir
Q7. OK your Visa is granted !!
A7. Thank you
I was not asked many questions, probably because it was third time for re-issue of US C1/D Visa. However there were two cadets also applying and I overheard their questions too. Obviously both were very excited.
Q Same questions as above
Q1 Are you joining for the first time ?
Q2 Why did you join Merchant Navy ?
Q3 What will be your work onboard ?
Q4 What is your stipend onboard ?
Q5 Who will take care of your joining the ship since this is your first time joining ?
There is one thing I would like to stress that C1/D Visa is required for joining/Sign off and Shore leave at US Ports. If one does not have them they can still join/sign off any ship from any port NOT in US. If you are onboard a ship which is going to US and you do not have US C1/D Visa then god help you, You will be jailed in US....OK OK I'm kidding ....relax nothing of this sort will ever happen!! In such a situation you will not be granted shore leave and will not be able to the see the beautiful Country of US (One reason why one of the cadet joined Merchant Navy) ;-). The reason why the Merchant Navy companies stress so much for C1/D visa is simple always keep the options open. Obviously you have an edge of joining anyship at any port if you have all Visa.
Best of luck for your Interview.
While scheduling the C1/D Visa Interview I was trying to get the passport delivered at home. Sadly Blue Dart was not shipping to Dhanbad. I opted for HAL(Hold at Location) at Jeevandeep Blue Dart.
When going to collect your Passport remember to bring along with you following Documents :
# Any Identity Proof
# VFS Fees Receipt
# Copy of the above two Documents (for submitting)
For more details follow :
Kindly note that US visa application procedure has been changed by the US department of state.
according to US EMBASSY-
The U.S. Embassy Announces a New Visa Processing System
New Delhi | September 5, 2012
"The United States Embassy in India today announced it is implementing a new visa processing system throughout India that will further standardize procedures and will simplify fee payment and appointment scheduling through a new website at www.ustraveldocs.com/in. Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, Julia Stanley, announced at a press conference here today that beginning September 26, 2012 U.S. visa applicants will be able to pay application fees via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or with their mobile phones. They can also pay in cash at more than 1,800 Axis bank branches."
SO, for seafarers it is essential to note that now you have to do your entire application on www.ustraveldocs.com/in , rather than earlier one that was VFS.
* Inform the company regarding your application and ask them for the IMO number and vessel name of the vessel you are to join (this needs to be filled up in the DS-160 form),ask for the US VISA APPLICATION to be duly signed and provided by company with a contract letter attached, they may provide application and contract letter at a later stage before your interview.
*Obtain a digital photograph that meets the requirements as mentioned on us department of states site, just google it up if you don't find not an issue, you can fill up without providing photograph but at the time of OFC and interview bring your photograph (not digital one) with you .Fill up the DS-160 Application form (no changes have been made in current version of the form)
by logging on to www.ustraveldocs.com/in ,and selecting the option of DS-160, you will be redirected to US department of state's site where the form is available and is to be filled,properly and carefuly. please provide a proper digital photograph at the time of application,can be cropped to size by US department of state's cropping tool provided on its site, you can also save the form after each step and finally after verifying all data put your digital signatures and submit the form,take a print out of the DS-160 confirmation page,can also take a print of application if you want, otherwise it is not required at time of interview since they have all data in digital format.
*you will need to make a account/profile on the site www.ustraveldocs.com/in (mentioned above) by providing true data.
*start the take appointment procedure,you will need to provide your visa type (c1/d in ur case ),state of residence (the state where you have been living for past 6 months, and should be matching to state on your passport (recommended, not required by law),place where you want to take your passport after visa is granted (these will be OFC'S (described later) or blue dart officec where you can get you visa (pick up).
*take fee payment slip, by selecting option out of axis bank/citi bank payment or via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or with their mobile phones.
*pay the fees at nearest branch (all branches accept the fees), withing 4 hours it will get activated.
*continue the procedure, and take your appointment form ustraveldocs.com/in.
NOW YOU WILL BE NEEDED TO TAKE TWO SEPARATE APPOINTMENTS, ONE FOR INTERVIEW(at embassy/consulate) OTHER FOR OFC (offsite facilitation center), OFC'S have been made up to verify your documents (confirmation page/interview appointment letter/passport) and to take your biometric signatures (finger prints) and a photograph.
APPEAR FOR INTERVIEW,IF GRANTED A VISA YOU WILL GET AN OPTION TO GIVE A COURIER ADDRESS AT A PAYMENT OF 300 RUPEES,WHERE YOU WANT YOUR VISA TO BE DELIVERED (at least in mumbai its so),IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GIVE ANY COURIER ADDRESS YOU CAN PICK UP YOUR PASSPORT FREE OF COST FROM THE CENTRE WHICH YOU GAVE IN PASSPORT DELIVERY OPTION (OFC OR BLUE DART OFFICE NEAREST TO YOUR HOMETOWN).
If your visa has been denied under this section according to the booklet provided by the consular officer then the following points might be helpful to you -
* section 214(b) of US immigration and nationality act,
Denials under this section are not permanent at all, you can apply after seven days of previous rejection.
under this section visa is rejected due to your inability to prove that you have strong ties with your state of residence (India in your case), ties can be- a permanent residence in India (either on rent or owned by you/your family),your family,your bank balance,your education, and your job., this refers to the reasons for which you will come back to India after your said stay in US and will not become / try to become permanent resident/immigrant there. hence try to find out your ties with state of residence. well there may be some other reasons under this rejection since, this is a vast section, hence has the ability to accommodate lot of issues which might not be relevant to someone in common but since consular officer are highly skilled people and have special skills to decide what is right under the law they decide things over few minutes and you are in a tensed state that interview didn't even last two minutes.
A common question after this denial on next interview would be-
* what are the changes in your circumstances from your last application?
this time you have to be confident and say "sir this time i am ready to explain the ties i have with my state and can prove it in a better manner" if asked further provide the ties.
214(B) IS MOST COMMON REFUSAL.
My advice :
* first of all please don't keep it in your mind that if you have been denied once then you won't get a visa in future, its a complete myth i have seen personally many guys have got their visa issued after a rejection in past.
* Experience factor- Well i have herd people talking about experience as a major factor in the denials, well this may be one of the factors but in a seafarer's case this does not play a major role provided you have all the authentic documents and you know what you are going to do on board and basics of your seafaring.
*Major problem lies with the Deck/Engine cadets, as they are young and normally in age group of 18-20 there is some more stringent rules for them since they don't have much ties, or they didn't get that much time to form such ties, in this case their knowledge matters a lot, they must be knowing exactly what is their role on board the ship, they should know what they are going to do in case of a fire or any major hazard.
SO IF YOU HAVE PROVIDED AUTHENTIC DOCUMENTS AND HAVE THE PROPER KNOWLEDGE, WITH NO CRIMINAL BACKGROUND, THEN FOR SURE YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT THROUGH.
Fellow mariners, US visas pending under section 221(G) Of US immigration and nationality act are liable to be pending for quite long period, as the consulate cannot predict how long this process will take as it varies based on the individual circumstances of each case.You can check your status report by entering your bar code number. If you were issued a yellow 221(g) handout, please submit requested documents and/or passports via GSS. To locate the VFS center it is located near most of metropolitan cities across India,If you were issued a white, blue or green handout, please follow the instructions in that letter carefully in order for consulate to continue processing your visa application. US visa is a really hectic problem faced by many seafarers these days,be optimistic regarding your visa application.
This section involves a through inquiry in each case and based on the information gained by the experts it is decided whether the said person is eligible to be issued a US visa or not, Well in case of Seafarers C1D visa, this is not that extensive hence there are much more chances for you to get a visa issued.