By Dorie Cox
There is at least one yacht stew who is especially happy to be at this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
The Triton wrote about trouble she had with her B1/B2 visa in August. As a foreign passport holder, she was on a flight back to the United States to rejoin her yacht after a holiday when officials removed her from her seat.
It turns out that her visa had been canceled in April, and she did not know it.
“We were not notified it was canceled,” her captain said. “If we would have known, we would have handled the situation sooner.”
The captain and stew asked not to be named.
In an attempt to get her back onboard, the captain worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and filed with the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP), a resource for people who have been denied U.S. entry or exit.
“Redress was a waste of time,” he said. “We were issued a redress number and were told if she flies or comes in, to use that.”
Even using that number, she was denied a visa, so she returned to her home country and went through the process again. She was issued a B1/B2 visa about two weeks ago.
“This time, the officer believed her,” the captain said. “That she had worked on the yacht and had not been posting her CV online.”
He said he can forgive the non-yachting officer for not understanding, but would like to see consular officials be educated about the work of yacht crew. More importantly, he wants the yacht to be able to travel in the United States and to avoid another lengthy visa issue.
“The owner is sick and tired of it,” the captain said. “He said, ‘It is so hard to own a boat.’ He is considering keeping it in the Bahamas and told me to stay out of here [the U.S.].”
The captain, who has more than a decade in the industry, said he has not heard of another yacht with the same problem, but does not want this to happen to another crew.
“But I think more people involved in this conversation with officials will help everyone work out a plan,” he said. “And clear this up so there are no more gray areas.”
The Marine Industries Association of South Florida is hosting a panel discussion with U.S. customs officials at noon Saturday. Invitations are required. Email email@example.com or visit M/V Grand Floridian on the face dock at Bahia Mar to request one.
Dorie Cox is editor of Triton Today. Comments are welcome below.
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