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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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