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B1/B2 Visa Issue
LJ Upton
Posted: Monday, April 13, 2009 9:17 PM
Joined: 15/11/2008
Posts: 2

Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 3:24 AM
Joined: 04/03/2009
Posts: 12

A B1 is for foreign crew arriving on a foreign flag yacht or crew arriving by commerical airplane with full set of  foreign flag yacht employment papers only. If you are arriving to look for full time job on a foreign flag yacht then you only qualify for a B2. Day work on any yacht any flag is illegal. If caught you would lose B1/B2 visa. To accept employment you must leave the US and reenter with your new employment papers. You will be then given a B1. If you work on the yacht with the B2 - a tourist visa - you and the Captain who hired you would be in trouble and both could lose visas permanently.
Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 3:04 AM

I don't believe that it's legal for international yachties on tourist visas to actively look for work, receive positions, and then fly out to the Bahamas or elsewhere to make it legit.  It's a sham that ICE/INS is willing to tolerate..but it's still against US law. 

Americans in the industry have to make it their civic duty and make that call to ICE in order to begin to complain about these issues. If more of us are willing to spend a little time calling  agents/field control operators including  senators/governor of FL /Homeland Security reps, maybe someone will start paying attention and focus on this ongoing problem. If you want a job in the yachting industry, you need to receive the job while you are in your home port....through a recruiter or by someone else. 

 I can not go to France on an American passport and look/receive work on land or at the dock. You dig?

Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 4:19 PM
Joined: 03/03/2009
Posts: 8

There has been a growing concern in the confusion surrounding visa requirements for foreign-flagged superyacht crew members visiting South Floridian waters, which has sounded alarm bells for a number of local businesses who depend on the business brought in by the vessels visiting the area for either maintenance or cruising purposes. Each visiting megayacht / superyacht brings more than $488,000 to the region through boatyard expenditures, brokerage commissions and charter fees, contributing an estimated grand total of £372.4 million last to the region (according to a study conducted on behalf of the Marine Industries Association, the Florida Brokers Association, and the Broward Alliance).
Brokers, boatyard representatives and captains have warned that the red tape surrounding crew visa regulations for foreign crew, including the length of time for the visas, could be prohibitive in attracting vessels in the future.

Many will agree that there is complete confusion by immigration officials on B1B2 visas. For example on one boat I heard about, when arriving by sea the Captain got the full 6 months. Arriving by air the new crew got 4 months and 5 months. Hardly consistent. 

However  if you have a legitamate reason to stay over the alloted time given (eg your yacht is having repairs) you can apply by post for an extension It costs $300 each.

You could leave the USA for the weekend and then come back but this is not recomended as I have heard of crews being refused re-entry and their visas being cancelled.

This is not a new problem. You must keep in mind that the Foreign Affair Manual is big, not every officer can be familiar with every little nuance of it. Let's face it: in terms of border crossings yacht crew are an insignificant event in an officers daily routine. The simple solution is to be prepared. You should always carry a copy of the relevant section of the Foreign Affairs Manual: 9 FAM Part 41.31 N9.5
It states very clearly that yacht crew members shall be issued a B1/B2 visa if the vessel stays for more than 29 days in the US. Also include a copy of this in the visa application and also explain it to the consular officer in your application letter that your captain will give you when you apply for the visa. Then there will never be any confusion. It even states in there very clearly what the authorities are looking for before they grant a B1/B2 visa. It takes all the guess work out of the application and entry into the US.
The things you need to apply are:
  1. An official application form.
  2. A colour copy of the boat registration papers.
  3. A letter from the boats captain stating that you are a permanent employee, that the boat will be visiting American waters for longer than 29 days. That you will be paid, including expenses and will live aboard, etc.
  4. Copy of the crew list that includes your name.

You can find it at this site:
Scroll down to page 12 and you will find the following:

9 FAM 41.31 N9.5 Yacht Crewmen
(CT:VISA-701; 02-15-2005)
Crewmen of a private yacht who are able to establish that they have a
residence abroad which they do not intend to abandon, regardless of the
nationality of the private yacht. The yacht is to sail out of a foreign home
port and cruising in U.S. waters for more than 29 days.

Also the rest of the document makes good reading for anyone applying for a visa. it very clearly states what the authorities require to issue a visa and what makes them suspicious and what could lead to the visa being denied.

9 FAM 41.41 N1.3
(TL:VISA-25; 07-21-1989)
The INA makes no distinction between U.S. and foreign flag vessels.
Therefore, foreign crewmen may be accorded D visas notwithstanding the
nationality of the vessel on which they are employed, provided all other
requirements for D classification are met. Note, however, that INA
101(a)(15)(D) precludes the issuance of crew visas to aliens who seek to
join fishing vessels having a home port or operating base in the United
States, regardless of the nationality of the fishing vessel.

Keep in mind that the C1/D1 visa is the correct visa for crew and only if the vessel stays longer than 29 days in the US is a B1/B2 visa to be issued whether the crew member is working on a US flagged or foreign flagged vessel.

One other section I would like to point out is this one:
(CT:VISA-701; 02-15-2005)
a. The policy of the U.S. Government is to facilitate and promote
international travel and the free movement of people of all nationalities to
the United States both for the cultural and social value to the world and
for economic purposes.
b. You shall expedite applications for the issuance of a visitor visa if the
issuance is consistent with U.S. immigration and naturalization laws and
regulations. You must be satisfied that the applicants have overcome the
presumption of intending immigration.

The INS treat every person applying for a visa and entering the US as a potential immigrant. it is up to the individual to prove that he/she has no intention to immigrate to the US. this is the key to a successful application and entry into the US.

All of this is found on this web site:

As I said before - it is a lot of information to go through and digest but it is all there. It is easy to complain about the US especially in this anti US climate we currently have. But rest assured - they are well organised. It is up to yacht captains and managers to figure out the law of the countries that they are visiting.


(This is paraphrased from this forum thread:   )


Posted: Saturday, September 4, 2010 8:31 PM
Joined: 25/06/2009
Posts: 277

This link provides the best synopsis of the "Crew visas for non-US flagged vessels" issues that I have found so far: