As part of a test program, vessel crew’s entry requirements into the U.S. Virgin Islands have been changed. The parole program, identified by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) (USVI Customs Zone) as the Significant Public Benefit Parole (SPBP), allows vessels with professional crew without B1/B2 or C-1/D visas to cruise the U.S. Virgin Islands for up to six months, according to a IGY Marinas press release on March 18.
Yachts looking to enter the USVI can apply for the parole program upon entry for the next six months. While multiple entry is possible, the intention of the program is for single entry. A $75 fee per person payable to the USCBP officer along with each crewmember’s seaman’s book is required for each application, and a new application with the same requirements is needed for each re-entry.
“The SPBP program allows vessels to visit the US Virgin Islands who may not have previously done so, likely due to the difficulty of obtaining B1/B2 or C-1/D visas."
The release notes that entry to the U.S., Puerto Rico, or Puerto Rican waters is not permitted for paroled crewmembers visiting the USVI. Crew can’t go any further into the U.S. through the program, including boarding a flight to the U.S. or Puerto Rico. Yachts over 300 GRT must still meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements, and all size vessels must meet APHIS requirements.
The program is only available at three locations in St. Thomas: Edward Blyden Customs and Border Protection terminal, the St. John CBP office, and IGY Marina’s Yacht Haven Grande Marina’s CBP office.
“The SPBP program allows vessels to visit the US Virgin Islands who may not have previously done so, likely due to the difficulty of obtaining B1/B2 or C-1/D visas,” Yacht Haven Grande Marina General Manager Phil Blake said in the release.
The marina will provide guidance to captains when submitting applications for the program, but the USCBP determines the applicant’s eligibility.
“Anyone previously deported or denied entry to the mainland U.S., convicted of a serious offence, or are a national of a special interest country, will not be granted a parole entry,” the release states. Also, captains should be aware that they will need to guarantee that anyone not granted parole will be safeguarded to the vessel for the duration of the stay or depart St. Thomas directly to an international destination not via the United States.