The Superyacht Crew Visa: B1B2

31 October 2009 By Lauren Beck

Although efforts to create a visa especially for superyacht crew have generated a lot of talk in the industry, the so-called “Superyacht Crew” visa idea officially was terminated after the U.S. State Department expressed the opinion that the B1/B2 visa is the correct visa for foreign crew to obtain to enter the United States.

The United States Superyacht Association (USSA) has been investigating the viability of a visa aimed specifically at superyacht crew and sent representatives to Washington, DC, to meet with officials from the State Department.

While the idea of the visa might seem ideal for the industry, legislatively and politically, the battle to pass such regulation would be very tough. It also has been determined that such a visa would have very definite repercussions for foreign crew – these foreign crewmembers would have to be insured on U.S. soil and it also raises questions about how the Jones Act would apply. Under a new “Superyacht Crew” visa, foreign crew would have to also pay U.S. taxes.

The USSA has agreed with the State Department that the B1/B2 is the best option for crew. But it’s not stopping in its efforts to make the process easier. The USSA, in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), plans to publish a booklet of immigration guidelines specifically tailored for superyacht captains and crew.

“By producing this booklet and through education, we want to take off the table all the issues surrounding [U.S.] entry and exit,” says Tim Davey, chairperson of the USSA.

And he’s not just talking about educating the captains, either. The plan is also for more training materials to be distributed to CBP personnel to better familiarize them with the superyacht industry.

However, in efforts to make the B1/B2 application process easier, the State Department recommends that applications be made from your home country.

Another option to make the application process easier is a letter drafted by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF) and endorsed by the CBP. The letter is addressed to immigration officials and can help with the visa process. The State Department currently is also evaluating the letter.