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Visa for entry by yacht to the USA - any advice we Messages in this topic - RSS

Cliive Woodman
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Posts: 2


9/25/2018
Cliive Woodman
Administrator
Posts: 2
Some observations based on cruising on both the East and West coast of the US for the past 8 years (crossing between US and Canada as necessary to avoid overstaying in any one country)

  • Getting a B2 Visa seems to be getting more onerous than previously and you can expect to be without your passport for a significant length of time (weeks) whilst it is being processed. As a British citizen living in Germany I was unable to get the visa from the US Embassy in Germany, I was told it could only be done in the same country as my passport was issued (UK). However we have heard of people getting US B2 Visas from embassies in the Caribbean.

  • Having cleared into the US by yacht no less than 14 times in the past 8 years the primary observation is that "it has been different every time we did it"!! How you get treated depends very much on who you happen to be dealing with at the time with individual officers having the ultimate say as to whether you can enter and for how long. Having said that with only one or 2 exceptions we have always been treated with the utmost courtesy whenever we have entered by yacht and have not encountered any difficulties. It appears to be the norm to get a 12 month cruising permit for your yacht but only a 6 month period for people on it. Getting extensions to both these is possible, but not straightforward, and seems to require some sort of extenuating circumstances (e.g.health problem).

  • The US regulations definitively state that crossing into either Mexico or Canada does not count as time outside of the US for the purpose of the 6 month maximum. In practice we have not come across any incidents of this being enforced, although we are aware of the tax implications of staying more than 180 days.

Conclusion - cruising in the USA Canada for extended periods is straightforward enough for non US/Canadian citizens if you lay your yacht up for winter and can return to your home country to "reset the clock". However life becomes more challenging for those who live aboard permanently. On the east coast is relatively easy to go to the Caribbean to reset the clock but on the west coast escaping the US/Mexico/Canada area requires much longer passages. All the UK flagged boats we have come across cruising on the West coast of USA and Canada have travelled home to UK for the winter season (leaving the boat laid up ashore)

In the case of the itinerary you are considering( Hawaii, Kodiak, Alaska, BC) there are really only 2 options that wouldn't involve negotiating extensions

- Arrive in Kodiak as early in the season as possible (Jun?) and cruise southwards into BC before your 6 month personal permits expire. The received wisdom is that you need to be clear of SE Alaska by late Aug/early Sep to avoid storms.You could then have 6 months in Canada which would get you through to the spring when you could sensibly move on again (or alternatively continue southwards to California and Mexico for the autumn winter)

- Arrive in Kodiak slightly later in the season and overwinter in Alaska (sailing season in Alaska effectively ends late Aug early Sep) and continue southwards to BC the following year. This can be done without requiring extensions to the boat permit, but the all European boats we have come across doing this option have flown back to Europe at some point over the winter to avoid overstaying their personal permits.

Hope this helps

Regards

Clive
S/Y Cosmic Dancer

--
System Support
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Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 737


9/24/2018
Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 737
Here is some basic information (albeit from 2016) that explains the process and may help.

https://sailingbritican.com/how-to-get-a-b-1b-2-visa-for-sailing-in-and-around-america/

--
Daria Blackwell - Rear Commodore, PR Officer, Editor OCC Digital Comms & Port Officer, West of Ireland s/v Aleria http://www.coastalboating.net
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Tony Brighton
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Posts: 16


12/29/2017
Tony Brighton
Administrator
Posts: 16
We (British citizens,Brit boat) visited the US in 2012. We had to apply for B2 visitor visas which you must get in advance of arrival - we got ours in Barbados at the US embassy because its the application centre for non-Caribbean residents within the Caribbean. You may wish to do it in your home country before departure. You have to do the online applicaton process and book an interview - it may take a couple of weeks. The B2 is valid for 10 years and multiple entries but you only get 6 months per entry. You can leave the US and come back - usually via Canada, Mexico or Bahamas - for a renewal, but if it looks like an 'overnighter' device then you may be challenged on re-entry which would be very problematic; most people we spoke to planned to spend at least 2 weeks out of the country. Hearesay is that the Canada route is more friendly in this regard. I'd not recommend using Cuba as its technically illegal to sail from America to Cuba even as a non-US national.

We needed more than 6 months in one entry to allow us to complete our east coast trip. You can apply for a 3 month extension once you are in the country - I wouldn't recommend asking for it when you first rock up. There is an online application process and fee to be paid. It can take up to 3 months so do it fairly early on. If your extension has not arrived by the time your 6 months is up you are in limbo as far as CBP and immigration are concerned and you could be asked to leave although this would be harsh as they can see your application. We stayed 7 months in total and our extension arrived before the day we sailed - to Cuba!
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Hasbun
Posts: 52


12/13/2017
Hasbun
Posts: 52
Whereas a British subject is likely to be issued a multiple-entry/multiple-year visa, no tourist visitor to the U.S. can be given any more than a six-month permit at each entry.

It is possible to spend more than six months in the U.S. by departing before the permitted entry expires, and re-entering. It is entirely at the border agent's discretion to issue a further six-month entry permit, or less, or to even deny entry.

Some report that departing from the U.S. to Canada or to Mexico and returning does not at all count as a departure. Even if true, I don't know what the legal basis for this might be, but I pass it on.

In any event, no foreigner should spend more than 180 days in the U.S. in any calendar year, for if this should happen, the tax authorities deem that person to be a "tax resident" and therefore, like all U.S. natural persons, to owe tax on worldwide income. Tax residency confers no benefits of any sort; only costs.

Cheers,

OH
Currently Larnaca, Cyprus
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bwallace
Posts: 50


12/13/2017
bwallace
Posts: 50
Hi Kate, a few years ago we got a 10 visa to visit the USA, this was for one year at a time. We had to visit the American Embassy (we were in Trinadad) no problem once we had the interview etc. I believe that the boat is a separate issue.
Hope this helps. We are also British
Merry Christmas
Brian
s/v Darramy
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bwallace
Posts: 50


12/13/2017
bwallace
Posts: 50
Kath wrote:
At some point in the next few years we would like to sail from New Zealand via Tonga via Hawaii to Kodiak and then work our way along the Alaskan coast to British Columbia.

We would apply for our visa in New Zealand. We are British.

Does anyone know if we are likely to be given 1 year visas? Any advice on the best way to go about it?

Thanks

Kath
SY Caramor
(Currently in Chile)
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Kath
Posts: 5


12/13/2017
Kath
Posts: 5
At some point in the next few years we would like to sail from New Zealand via Tonga via Hawaii to Kodiak and then work our way along the Alaskan coast to British Columbia.

We would apply for our visa in New Zealand. We are British.

Does anyone know if we are likely to be given 1 year visas? Any advice on the best way to go about it?

Thanks

Kath
SY Caramor
(Currently in Chile)
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