Crew Visa Requirements
Before the 11 September, 2001 crew members not having valid visa could obtain a visa waiver. However, after 11 September, 2001 this is no longer possible.
From a local source BIMCO has received the following information on this subject
1) One should assume that whatever concessions have been granted by USINS or U.S. Coast Guard regarding the entry of foreign national crew members with or without a valid visa in their passport, prior to September 11, 2001, are completely and irrevocably rescinded. This includes the granting of visa waivers for any reason; There are no more visa waivers granted for foreign national crew who are not in possession of a valid U.S. Visa or who are not a part of a visaed crew list.
This denial of visa waivers, includes the expiration of a crew members visa while under contract or the un-availability of a U.S. Consulate to apply for a visaed crew list in a foreign port. It also includes the detention of an ill crew member on board with entry denied because of failure to have a valid visa in his/her possession, to see a doctor for illness. In most instances, paroles are denied, even for illness.
2) Even with a valid visa, entry into the U.S. can be denied by USINS.
3) In many cases, but not always, USINS and the U.S. Coast Guard are requiring guards at the gangway if a vessel enters the United States waters with foreign national crew without a valid visa. This is applicable to vessels in the tramp and liner trade. In many cases, vessels with foreign national crew without a valid visa, are detained outside of the pilot station until they are boarded for inspection by U.S. Coast Guard and or USINS. USINS or U.S. Coast Guard may not require a guard in one port; however if the vessel proceeds to another U.S. port(s) on the same voyage, a guard may be required by USINS or U.S. Coast Guard at subsequent U.S. ports. Guards are demanded on a case by case or port by port basis. There is no universal application of this rule; it is at the discretion of the USINS port director or U.S. Coast Guard "Captain of the Port".
4) Althouhg it may be more difficult, it does remain possible to obtain a visaed crew list from a U.S. Consulate although it may be more difficult.
5) While United States laws and regulations governing the entry of foreign natinal crew members into the U.S. should be universally enforced, this is not always so. But you should assume that laws and regulations will be enforced to the maximum with no deviation permitted and penalties fines and or arrests imposed. Furthermore, regulations which, permit in certain instances, the entry of a foreign national crew member without a valid visa, no longer apply.