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Yacht crew with B1/B2 visas excluded from US entry ban

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection has clarified that the travel ban on foreign nationals who were in Europe up to 14 days prior to their entry into the U.S. does not apply to yacht crew on valid B1/B2 visas.

On March 14, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a proclamation to suspend entry of certain immigrants and nonimmigrants who could pose a risk of transmitting COVID-19. Anyone who was in one of the 26 Schengen Area countries of Europe during the 14-day period preceding their entry into the United States would not be admitted. Among others, the ban does not apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents or those traveling on a C-1/D visa “as air or sea crew”.

The Marine Industries Association of South Florida requested clarification of “air or sea crew” as it relates to yacht crew and received the following from Stephen Dearborn with the Office of Field Operations, Enforcement Programs Division, Admissibility and Passenger Programs, CBP.

“As it relates to the Presidential Proclamation of March 14, 2020, it is CBP’s policy determination that aliens applying for admission in the B (visitor) visa classification who are engaged in lightering, OCS activity, wind farm activity, private air/sea crew and other similar crewmember actives fall within the exceptions cited in the proclamation for crew.

“Specifically, although such aliens are not nonimmigrant crewmembers under INA 101(a)(15)(D), nor are they aliens in transit under INA 101(a)(15(C), these aliens are still crewmembers under the general definition of crewmember cited in INA 101(a)(10). As such, it is our policy opinion that such crewmembers fit within exceptions cited in Section 2(a)(vii) as ‘…otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew.’

“This determination only impacts whether such aliens fit the exception, designated for crew, when applying for admission at a port of entry.  This policy determination is not binding on any other agency or entity. Aliens must still be otherwise admissible and meet all other requirements under the proclamation, or any other laws, rules or regulations as applicable.  

“We will work to get this policy position communicated to air carriers as well.”

Shawn O’Brien, manager of private yacht sales with Global Marine Travel in Fort Lauderdale, says GMT has been advising its clients to carry with them their current and valid B1/B2 visa, boat documentation and a print out of Dearborn’s statement.

To read the full Presidential Proclamation of March 14, click here.

To read USCBP bulletin click here.

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    6 thoughts on “Yacht crew with B1/B2 visas excluded from US entry ban

    1. Silke

      This might theoretically be correct but NOT WORKING IN REAL LIFE! Had a crew member being denied boarding to transit through the US coming from London! We had to find another route!

    2. Shawn O'Brien

      No argument there Silke ~ The reality is for years and tears we’ve (the US yachting industry) been having crew denied and deported with proper visas/documentation even before COVID-19. When it comes to (any) quickly changing, intense legalese we could peel away the layers of the onion all day long finding numerous self-contradictions, disparities, retractions, etc.
      Written laws are one thing, how they are interpreted and applied can be very different in the ‘real world’ . I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying it IS.
      And thankfully we have professional, qualified advocacy groups banging the gong to make our voices heard, our business understood and get regulations implemented that make sense for everyone to be administered unilaterally.

    3. Chris

      I agree with Silke. We had a crew member denied transit through the US on return flight from Bahamas as had not been 14 days since being in UK. CBP officers need better instruction if this is the case.

    4. Joe

      I just tried flying to the states from Nicaragua and was denied because it hasn’t yet been 14 days since I was last in Europe. American airlines were aware that crew were exempt from the travel bans but when they rang the CBP they were refused authorisation. Discharge book, boat papers and a copy of this article made no difference. [Non-US citizen]

    5. Michael Sizeland

      Current advice still is that CBP are still not advising Airlines that B1/B2 is acceptable for entry. The wording on the proclamation and the clarification from CBP is open to interpretation despite what Stephen Dearborn says and as soon as some official is put on the spot they will play it safe obviously. We need a clear statement and advice to be sent to airlines as of today they will still only accept B1 visa crew.

    6. Jared

      Good day all,

      I would like to find out if there has been any development with regards to crew flying in to join vessel in Florida?

      Has anyone been able to get crew memeber from mainland Europe or the uk? On a B1B2 visa.

      Thank and I look forward to some positive answers

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