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US visa crackdown jeopardises superyacht crew attempting to secure B1/B2 Visas

A ‘crackdown’ on visas and foreign entry into the US has increased fears that charter crew will be unable to secure B1/B2 visas.

This is following news of diplomatic cables sent on 17th March by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson to all American embassies, titled “Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Visa Applications.” These instructed consular officials to broadly increase scrutiny.

The cables stated that details of an applicant’s employment, residence for the last 15 years and all phone numbers used in the previous five years should be checked. It is not yet clear if this will apply to all applicants or only to applicants from specific countries, but the added admin work involved will likely increase waiting times for all and possibly disrupt itineraries.

The US Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website states that B1/B2 visas are classed as visitor visas, and are described as eligible for “persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), tourism, pleasure or visiting (visa category B-2), or a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).’

The website also states that, “If you will be working on a private yacht sailing out of a foreign port and cruising in U.S. waters for more than 29 days, you require a B-1 visa”.

Multiple reports over past months have shown charter crew unable to obtain or renew visas needed to work on a yacht visiting the United States, with open online forums such as ‘Immihelp’ and ‘Quora’ showing an increase in people sharing a negative experience with the system, and many expressing confusion as to why their applications were rejected. 

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