Call for evidence - US visa issues

Published on: 21 February 2018

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Following a number of queries raised by British Marine and Superyacht UK member companies, British Marine is issuing a call for evidence from any member company that has experienced difficulties in obtaining B1 and B2 work visas for the United States of America.

At the recent Miami International Boat Show, British Marine's International Development Manager, Richard Selby, met with US immigration attorney, Christine Alden, to discuss this visa issue. Yacht crewing companies in membership have been reporting difficulties in obtaining B1 and B2 visas for UK crew members to work aboard private yachts based in the US. On a number of occasions it appears that US Immigration is using simple internet searches to deem whether or not the yacht in question is privately or commercially operated (commercially operated vessels in the US fall within the scope of the Jones Act). The number of refusals for B1 and B2 visa applications appear to be on the rise.

As well as being an immigration specialist, Christine Alden is also the Vice Chair of the US Immigration Lawyers Association and following Richard's meeting with her, she went on to meet with her lead US government relations partner in Washington DC, as well as speaking on British Marine's behalf at an American Immigration Lawyers Association meeting. It appears that currently this is potentially being perceived as a ‘minor’ issue within the bigger picture of US immigration legislative changes and therefore needs to be raised up the agenda. Christine and Richard also discussed the potential impact on the US economy that could be caused by luxury yacht owners and captains choosing alternative non-US destinations.

A further conference call is scheduled in the next few days with Christine, but in the meantime any superyacht crew management companies or businesses in British Marine membership that may have experienced a problem obtaining a B1/B2 visa for this purpose is asked to contact Richard with details at rselby@britishmarine.co.uk.