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Crew entry into the USVI
Posted: Sunday, April 10, 2011 5:33 PM
Joined: 02/04/2010
Posts: 7

Hi there, hope someone might be able to help here. I am shipping my boat back from St Thomas to the med in a few weeks. I have a B1B2 but my mate/stew does not, and there is little time to get her one, and this would be the only time she is in US territory for work reasons. My plan was to get the boat to Tortola,write her a covering letter, sign her off the boat, send her on the ferry to St Thomas, and pick her up and sign her on the boat again. I have contacted the US Border Authority and they have told me to contact immigtration St Thomas, which I will do Monday. But meanwhile can anybody help here? Thanks....
Posted: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 8:45 PM
Yes, I have just done it with some of my crew. If they enter by commercial carrier (ferry from BVI's) and get a visa waver they can come and go for 90 days on that waver on your yacht. Best to get a good agent to handle the paper work and go into Yacht Heaven Grand as they have an immigration office there.
Posted: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 9:03 PM
Joined: 29/12/2010
Posts: 8

The crew member (or guest) who does not hold a US or Canadian passport (or hold a B1/B2 Visa, green card or another type of US Visa), cannot enter the USVI on a private yacht. They must come on a commercial carrier from BVI or elsewhere.

The I94W does not exist anymore, instead the person should be in the ESTA program which can be done online... on entry the person will be given 90 days... the person entering should have proof of onward/return travel.

A person on a 90 day Visa waiver (ESTA) is perfectly OK to leave the USVI on a private yacht, but cannot re- enter on the yacht after clearing into a foreign port.

Anonymous above is wrong. You CANNOT come and go, in and out of the USVI on a private yacht on a Visa waiver.... You can only go... and then if you come back it must be by commercial carrier.

She does not need a covering letter, as to work on a foreign flagged yacht that is cruising US waters (USVI included) she must have an B1/B2 Visa in her passport. When she rejoins the yacht, I suggest she comes on as a "guest", or just send her off on her holiday early!


Posted: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 11:27 PM
I am very sorry but you can! I have done it in the last month 3 times with two crew members who do not have B1/B2's. Like I said get a good agent and they will sort it out for you.
Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2011 4:36 PM
Joined: 29/12/2010
Posts: 8


This will have to be checked with US CBP. Their policy clearly states that a foreign national cannot travel INTO the USA (including USVI) on a private vessel from a foreign port, unless they have a minimum of a B1/B2 visa, (Canadians exempted); and not on a VISA waiver.... even if they leave from USA on the same private vessel.

So the strict letter of the law says you cannot, however whether the immigration agents in USVI are bending the rules or the law has changed, I do not know.

I was prevented from bringing guests back into St. Thomas who had joined the yacht there. This came from the agent and the immigration office directly. I had a meeting with them a few days before guests arrived and they showed me the policy there and then. They told me that they realized that is was a pain, but that was the rules and there was nothing they could do about it.

Did you come in to US waters after being in a foreign port... I e. after being checked into BVI's?? I would like to know how you did it... please explain or let us know the agent that you used.... also what were the nationality of the crew members concerned?


Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2011 5:54 PM
The law clearly states that you cannot arrive in the US (including USVI) on a private yacht while using a visa waiver. That being said the law is not uniformly applied. If you go to the office at the ferry dock in St. Thomas they won't accept it. If you go to the one at YHG, they will. I would recommend using a ship's agent if you are going to try it though. Seems like all customs officers throughout the Carib are a little more relaxed when you use an agent for clearing.
Posted: Monday, October 10, 2011 3:47 PM
Joined: 19/02/2010
Posts: 6

Thought I might just climb on here and maybe get some advice if you are willing to help. I am a south african citizen on board a private yacht in Palma which the owner has last minutely decided to cross the ocean and head the USVI. I have no time to get visa issues sorted out!!! can you recommend an agency to help with visas that side please.
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