Agent’s Corner: S. Florida airports best when flying in on B1/B2

Nov 5, 2019 by Guest Writer

The Agent’s Corner: by Laura Garcia-Bartenfelder

There are so many different aspects to receiving and traveling on a B1/B2 for crew members that in this column we will just broach one particular subject: the problems experienced by crew members entering the U.S. via international airports outside of South Florida.  

We have recently dealt with three incidents in which crew members flew into an airport in the Northeast and were denied entry on their B1/B2. These individuals had to be rerouted at a cost to the yacht and themselves to South Florida airports.

As yacht agents for South Florida and the Bahamas, we understand the importance and relevance of having a B1/B2 and fully respecting U.S. Customs and Border Protection laws and regulations. However, we also understand the frustration of foreign crew when there are problems in not only obtaining a B1/B2, but also entering the U.S. on that B1/B2.

It’s important to remember that a B1/B2 is actually a combination of a B1 (work visa) and B2 (tourist visa). The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has combined the two in the past 10 years to benefit crew members and the yachting industry. 

When a crew member flies into any of the South Florida airports – West Palm Beach (WPB), Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Miami (MIA) – to meet a yacht that they are legally working for, they are usually greeted by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who understands the yachting industry and has seen many B1/B2 crew members pass through. 

However, regardless of the airport where a crew member first enters the U.S., it is imperative to always have the following items:

  • Your most current passport with the B1/B2 stamp in it.
  • A copy of your crew joining letter on yacht letterhead from the captain.
  • A copy of the most current crew list which, obviously, should include you.
  • If the yacht is on a U.S. cruising permit, then a copy of that too.

For more U.S. travel visa information visit U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Laura Garcia-Bartenfelder is a partner and agent at United Island & Yacht/United Shipping Co. and has more than 10 years experience in services to yachts, captains and crew in Florida and the Bahamas. Comments are welcome below.