Gard Alert: United States - Visas for crewmembers on lightering vessels
U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) has recently developed the policy guidance for the processing of crewmembers destined to lightering vessels.
" Traditionally, crewmembers joining lightering vessels in the United States have arrived at US airports with a C1/D visa, and have been admitted as a C1 category to join their vessels. Such crewmembers do not meet the definition of a D non-immigrant crewmember, since the lightering vessels they intend to join do not touch a foreign port or place during their operations. They therefore do not facilitate a departure under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and 8 CFR 215.l(h). Since these crewmembers do not touch a foreign port whilst onboard the lightering vessels they join, they are ineligible for the C1 non-immigrant classification to transit to join such a vessel. As a temporary measure and in order to facilitate these crewmembers to join their lightering vessels, Office of Field Operations (OFO) has determined that, based on certain circumstances, parole may be granted. In order for this parole to be made granted, the following procedure should be followed:
- During the primary inspection, a crewmember destined for a lightering vessel should clearly indicate that he or she is destined for a lightering vessel to serve in the capacity of a crewmember.
- The crewmember will be processed according to standard procedures, and referred to a secondary officer for additional processing.
- During the secondary inspection, the crewmember must provide evidence of serving onboard a lightering vessel or future employment on a lightering vessel.
- This evidence may include, but is not limited to:
- o a letter from the vessel agent or lightering company indicating the vessel name and that the vessel performs lightering,
- o a copy of the employment contract for the crewmember onboard the vessel,
- o previous evidence of employment onboard a lightering vessel, and
- o an offer of employment.
The CBP officer may grant parole to the crewmember for significant public benefit for the period of his or her contract, not to exceed six months. The parole will:
- provide authorise the crewmember to transit to the lightering vessel, perform duties on board the lightering vessel that would ordinarily be classified as required for normal operations and service on board a vessel, and repatriation after end of contract.
- allow the crewmember access off the vessel when it is in port, similar to temporary landing rights granted to holders of a D crew visa.
Parole is a discretionary authority, to be exercised on a case by case basis. These crewmembers are not clearly admissible since they do not meet any existing non-immigrant classification. Please note that this parole is not applicable to crewmembers destined to vessels during times of labor disputes or travelers claiming fear under asylum provisions."