If you entered on a C1 or D visa, you will face challenges when applying for adjustment of status. However, exceptions do exist. Many foreign nationals mistakenly believe that they cannot -- under any circumstances -- apply for adjustment of status if they have entered on a C1 or D visa. But that is not always the case.
The basic rule is that if a foreign national has entered on a C-1/D visa to "join a vessel as a crewman," they are not eligible to file for an adjustment of status. Thus, for example, in the case of Matter of G-D-M-, 25 I&N Dec. 82 (BIA 2009), the foreign national was not able to have his deportation canceled because he entered as a C-1 while holding a C-1/D-1 visa, possessed a Seaman’s Service Record Book, identified himself as a crewman in his asylum application and testified he was planning on working on a ship. Based on these facts, he was considered to have entered as a "crewman" and, thus, was ineligible for adjustment of status and for cancellation of his deportation. This was true even though he never actually worked on the ship and had no experience as a crewman.
That being said, many enter the U.S. on a C-1/D visa for reasons OTHER than planning to join a vessel as a crewman. Generally speaking, THOSE persons ARE eligible to file for adjustment of status. Here is a quick rundown.
Crewmen can file for adjustment of status if they fit the legal definition of Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This is for a person who has had a petition or labor certification filed on their behalf prior to April 30, 2001. This exception has certain time frames that must be met and physical presence requirements, depending on the date of which the qualifying application was filed.
Transiting Through the U.S. Exception
This exception does not apply to those entering the U.S. as a crewman. But, as noted, some foreign nationals enter the U.S. on a C-1 visa for other reasons, principally to transit the U.S. to a third country. Those admitted on any type of C visa for transiting through the U.S. are eligible for adjustment of status. However, it is crucial to have a C visa. Those admitted without a visa to transit to the U.S. are NOT eligible for adjustment of status. See here.
No Bar for VAWA-Based Applicants
As noted in the link above, the bar against crewmen seeking to adjust their status does not apply to Violence Against Women Act-based applicants.
Seeking a Waiver
Another option is to seek a waiver by filing Form I-601 or I-601A based on possible categories of hardship.
Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today
Adjustment of status for C-1 and D visas is very complicated. For more information and help, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone, and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.