He also answered questions about a second visa commonly issued to yacht crews: the C1/D. According to Pagliai, this is a "commercial sailor's visa" that can be applied to any vessel engaged in charter. Basically, if your yacht is bringing paying passengers into the country, crewmembers who aren't Americans need a C1/D visa. Unlike B1/B2 visas, which can be granted for stays up to six months, C1/Ds are good for a maximum of only 29 days.
So essentially, if your yacht is used for charter in U.S. waters, your crewmembers must have both C1/D and the B1/B2 visas. Pagliai assured the audience that it was okay to hold both these visas at the same time and that crew can even receive both visas from the same interview. But no matter how much prep work someone does, there is no guarantee that he or she will pass the interview—one of the keys to which is not being viewed as a potential immigrant to the United States. Note that such interviews should be scheduled well in advance, as some state department offices can have wait times of a couple of months or more.
One of the other important things to remember is that B1/B2 visas do not allow you to "yacht-shop"; in other words, if you receive a visa to work on one yacht and are admitted by the U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP), you cannot use it on another vessel. Basically, it's non-transferable.
Jack Garofano of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who attended the conference as an audience member, also answered a slew of questions. According to him, if crewmembers apply for an extension while they are in the United States, they must have been admitted by the CBP and still be in "legal" status, and the request must be submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), which handles extensions. CBP only deals with anyone who currently does not have a visa.
With the complex bureaucracy involved, there are bound to be more visa concerns and questions generated at a short conference—and by an article like this—than can be properly addressed. That's why the best thing to do is to contact either CIS or CBP directly for answers to specific questions or cases. Of course, thinking ahead is key, and the most important thing to remember as an owner is that wherever you travel with your yacht—in the United States or abroad—you need to make sure that your crew has all the documents it needs well in advance. Being legal can mean the difference between a cruise that goes well, and one that doesn't go at all.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
T.W.I.C. Deadline Soon...
T.W.I.C. stands for Transportation Workers Identification Card, and if you haven't heard of it by now, you should. It's a TSA-issued identification card and anyone with any form of U.S. Coast Guard licensure will be required to have one. Here's what you need to know:
Due date for the T.W.I.C. applications is April 15, 2009. That's the same day as tax day, and just like your finances, it's best to get it done ahead of time.
Enrollment for T.W.I.C. costs $132.50 and can be paid with credit card or certified check. Checks need to be made payable to Lockheed Martin since it has the government contract.
For a list of sites where you can apply, visit the T.W.I.C. Web site. You can also learn more at www.tsa.gov/twic or by calling (866) 346-8942.
This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.