Dockwalk - It's An International Industry Untitled Page

It's An International Industry

Mar 6th 09
By Janine Ketterer

As seen in various forums (Must be crazy to post such an audacious post! American yachties please read and American discrimination), the rules and regulations when it comes to non-American crew getting work while in the States tends to be a touchy and frankly hard-to-decipher topic. There are a lot of rumors and myths that need to be dispelled.

One of the biggest questions posed is: Can non-U.S. crew register with an agency and look for work in the U.S.? The answer: yes.

Eliot Norman, a crew immigration lawyer with Williams Mullen Immigration Practice Group, says “provided [crew] are lawfully here in tourist status, whether on a 90-day visa waiver or a B-1/B-2 visa with an I-94 card stamped B-2,” non-U.S. crew, indeed, can register and look for work.

Beyond simply registering, non-U.S. crew can also get on a boat (non U.S.-flagged obviously) while in the U.S. According to Rupert Connor of Luxury Yacht Group, “[Crew] just need to be sure to change their entry status from tourist to working, which normally requires a quick trip out of the country if they are stamped into the country on a tourism visa.”

Norman agrees, “[Crew] need to go to [say] Barbados if the vessel is sailing out of a foreign home port and cruising in U.S. waters for more than 29 days and come back with a B-1/B-2 visa if they do not have one, exit the U.S. and re-enter requesting a B-1 entry as foreign yacht crew.” Norman also asks crew to keep in mind that the vessel they’re working on must meet all of the qualifications for a B-1.

One forum posted put forward this comment: “Many of the international yachties’ CVs explicitly dictate obtaining a B1B2 visa; however, from what I've understood, it is against U.S. law for anyone to use the same B1 visa that was previously appointed for employment on a previous yacht that they once worked on.”

Norman disputes this claim, “A B1/B2 Visa is valid for work as yacht crew on any vessel. However, each entry is limited on the I-94 card to the vessel in question.”

Yacht crew are generally brought into the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa (B-1 is a business visa and B-2 is a tourist visa), as with very few exceptions, non-U.S. yacht crew must have a B-1 visa to work on a non-U.S.-flagged vessel in U.S. waters. Other entry forms include an I-94W. This means the candidate entered the U.S. with a passport that is eligible for the visa waiver program and is granted a stay of no more than 90 days. According to Connor, “This is a limiting entry for yachting professionals as you cannot work on a foreign vessel in U.S. waters without holding a B1 visa.”

Other important tidbits to keep in mind, a B-2 visa can be extended or changed to a B-1 visa, but according to Norman this can take several months.

Interestingly, it’s legal to look for work while you are on holiday in the U.S., “provided your primary reason for entering [the U.S.] was other than looking for work,” according to Norman. But it’s not legal to accept daywork while looking.

Connor points out that to legitimate yacht crew, “Entry into the USA is simple and easy.” However, avoiding overstay is very important. “Many yachts run on a very flexible schedule," Connor says. "A six-month entry stamp may seem like a long time when first issued, the vessel's schedule does not always result in a natural departure from U.S. waters before those six months end.” It’s each crewmember’s responsibility to keep track of their visas to be sure that they’re not in breach.

In Connor’s experience “all cases where crewmembers ran into difficulty were caused either by the crewmember's history or the crewmember's inappropriate or aggressive response to the immigration official. [There’s been] amazing cooperation from the Department of Homeland Security and a great willingness to assist the yachting community to interpret the rules.”

It seems to Norman that common sense is the key to all of these visa issues. “While you can file forms to extend status or fly outside the U.S. and re-enter, each case varies based upon its facts and you should seek competent advice before attempting to do so,” he says.


Related Topics:

Forum: American Discrimination

Forum: Must be crazy to post such an audacious post! American yachties please read


Rating  Average 3 out of 5

  • I'm a little/lot confused with the whole visa thing. Can a non US person crew on a US flagged Private Vessel on the B1B2 visa even if they fall under the visa waiver program?
    Posted by Phoenix 23/02/2011 14:30:22

  • Thanks Kate, I have before my eyes a handout from the US Embassy in Italy for " yacht crew " and it says exactly what you have just written. Thanks.

    And Debbie, your being adversarial. Stop.
    Posted by monback 08/03/2009 19:35:18

  • Regarding the first comment, at the bottom of the page, quoting the Triton article, Garofano and the immigration attorney in this article say the same thing. It’s the Triton headline that’s a bit misleading (or that was just an excerpt from the headline).
    If you are working on a non-US-flagged yacht in the U.S., your U.S. entry I-94 limits your work to that one vessel so you can’t switch jobs while in U.S. with that I-94. But your B1/B2 is not limited to one vessel. What Garofano says is you can’t switch jobs while in the U.S., not that you can’t switch jobs at all on the same B1/B2.
    Posted by Kate Lardy 08/03/2009 17:18:41

  • Dude, c'mon. I'm all for a global industry, I'm all for the cute Aussie and the "2 or 3" [dark haired] Swedish guys too! It just needs to be done legally and with respect to that country's laws so more Americans can have a chance to get jobs in their OWN back yard. We all have to obide by these kinds of laws in the States and in Europe, am I right? Right. Can I get an amen, there an echo in here. Is everyone on dope? I'm not ranting, I really am curious.

    And what is with the "relax" and "over reacting" claims?
    Why does it seem to some of you that I'm asking for a lot or that I'm "over-reacting"? What is going on in Your heads? C'mon now, wise up and smell the discrimination and illegal gainful employment already. Stop telling others to "sssshh". You think that helps? Either way, nothing will change except when we all become American an American fueled industry. At least we'll be legal up to a thou. I meant to say "thou" btw.

    I'm not ranting. I mean this with all sincerity and serenity.
    Posted by Debbie_1 08/03/2009 14:24:41

  • And Debbie, the economy is not so good so perhaps your overreaction is natural. I suggest you see the light and stop with your pogrom against foreign crew. You will only shoot yourself in the foot and stigmatize Americans out on the road. Debbie, understand that once you start tearing around the world with yachts you will permanently be tiptoeing in a Grey twilight zone of immigration work permit legality. If you make life miserable for our British, Kiwi, Australian, SA friends they will overreact and make my life miserable. At present, in the foreign country on which my job is floating, the depression economy has torn thru the marina and I as a foreign captain am virtually the only man receiving his monthly paycheck. The last thing I need is to come face to face with an aggrieved British crew, whom YOU have hurt ,alerting the authorities to go over my paperwork with a fine tooth comb and hurt me . Stop the witch hunt, you will only bring grief to your fellow Americans..
    Posted by monback 08/03/2009 09:10:08

  • As a guy who has been clawing around the world for 35 years, I will tell you that visas are a complicated issue. Never believe anything that a yachty, captain or crew agent tells you... NEVER. If you miscalculate and your passport is stamped "deported" " refused entry " you will have big troubles in the future. If you have any questions, first contact the embassy and if the issue is still not clear contact an immigration lawyer.
    Also realize that a Visa means nothing. The only citizen that is allowed automatic entry into the US is an American. A visa simply allows a foreign citizen to present themselves before an Immigration official and ask for permission to enter the country. This Immigration official is required by law to judge ...yes or no. Be professional and respectful when you appear before them , you are being interviewed. Understand that immigration officials are human and may very well have had a bad day.
    If in your passport you show a previous WORK visa for a country, then re appear the next time under a tourist visa, prepare for many questions by a professional immigration officer, this is his job...
    As far as a visa which allows you to enter a foreign country and work for a foreign company.... a foreign flagged yacht. My previous experience in the US was that the crew visa only allowed my crew to work for the foreign company, yacht, listed on their application, which was attached to my clearance papers. Once crew departed my yacht, I was required to report them as departed and their visa was no longer valid.. This was several years ago. Maybe things change and I am not an immigration professional. Always ask a lawyer, embassy for further clarification. . I'm an American yacht captain.
    My experience with US immigration and yachts is that the officials were always friendly, honest, professional people who didn't cause problems and grief. Relax.
    Posted by monback 08/03/2009 09:06:06

  • Janine,
    Just because you talked to one immigration lawyer, does not make what he says as being fact and parellel to our laws. ICE has repeatedly told me that no individual, whether looking for work in this industry or any other, has the right to obtain a position without a designated Work Visa and for that particular yacht. And a B1B2 visa is not a one size fits all. Sure ICE is probably looking the other way [I get it], but it doesn't mean what you've written in this article is fact...just because it comes from an attorney. Did you talk with anyone from ICE or Homeland Security...shouldn't they have a correct answer as well? And btw, do you honestly think more Americans would care about this issue so much if there wasn't this obsene discrimination that they face? Why should more SA and Aussies make more of this money from American owners/charter guests/businesses? When there are plenty of Americans who are basically forced to scavenge at the bottom? No matter how you want to slice it, Ms. Janine, this industry is mostly promulgated by American owners/charter guests..American yachties should NOT be among the minorities on tiny, old yachts...or unemployed. Btw, it seems to be more of an Anglo National Industry than "international". Where are all the Italians/French/Spanish/Africans/Asians...besides the "token" ones? Could you answer me any of these questions? Thanks.
    Posted by Debbie_1 08/03/2009 02:36:59

  • Anyone who has concerns/questions about the above article, you can call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. Perhaps someone there can shed some light on this subject a little more clearly which would benefit both US and NonUS crew.
    You can copy and paste this article and send it to or log on to his website
    Posted by Debbie_1 08/03/2009 02:09:14

  • [The Triton's article "Yacht crew can't switch jobs, yachts on B1B2"]

    “You cannot be hired on a yacht on a B1/B2,” Garofano said. “You need to have the job to get the visa.”And while for many crew this is the case, there are also many who leave a yacht once in the United States to join another, which is not allowed.“This is a major issue in the industry: Someone offers them a job and they just go to work,” Garofano said. “In all honesty, this is one of the more serious issues for that individual. Basically, they are working illegally in the United States." ---Jack Gerafano, Miami Customs.
    Posted by Debbie_1 08/03/2009 01:34:50

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