Part 2: So how do you know if your crew is “legit”?
By Elizabeth Ginns — February 2003
At the 2002 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the Superyacht Society offered a two-hour seminar entitled "Understanding U.S. Immigration Rules Today," which illustrated that the INS is not on a `round-the-clock deportation hunt and that crew members who have gone through the appropriate immigration procedures do not, and will not, need to go into hiding anytime soon.
In a meeting held on August 27 at the IGFA International Fishing Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale and then again November 1 at the seminar, INS acting deputy district director and assistant district director for inspections Jack Garofano attempted to clarify a great deal of misinterpretation and misinformation about what the proposed changes will mean to crew members of megayachts and stated that "the proposed changes were not designed to affect the legitimate visitors to this country."
So how do you know if your crew is "legit"? Presently, there are two main visas for foreign yachtsmen and crew: D and B. The D visa (a.k.a crew or crew list visa), for which the INS proposed no changes, allows an individual a layover of no more than 29 days in the United States and is the most common visa for cruise-ship and yacht crews. Within the B category, there are two subcategories: the B-1 visa for foreigners here for business purposes, and the B-2 visa for tourists. Proposed changes will eliminate the current six-month admission period for B-2 visitors and reduce the maximum admission period of both B-1 and B-2 visitors from one year to six months. The B visa's length of stay will now be "incumbent on each person entering the United States to prove that they have a residence abroad which they do not intend to abandon and to explain the reason for his/her visit and why they need longer than 30 days," according to the INS.
The B-2 visa does not apply to crew because it's for tourists only, but seems to have been a source of confusion in the past. If someone is here on a B-2 visa, he or she is not authorized to work in the United States. The B-1 visa, though, does apply to crew and foreign yachtsmen. Since the D visa only allows a layover of 29 days, if a vessel and crew were going to be here for, say, even 31 days, they'd need to apply for B-1 visas since the D visas wouldn't allow that long of a stay; if they stayed for 31 days on a D visa, they'd be in violation of the regulations. According to the INS, as long as they have the proper paperwork and they need to stay longer than 29 days, they will be allowed a long enough stay (of up to six months) for their business purposes on a B-1 visa.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.