With reference to our previous article, it is reliably learnt that during a meeting between US State Department Office of Field Support and Liaison officials and Industry representative body – BIMCO (which has been highlighting the difficulties that US visa policy has created in the maritime trades) says that they have been given valuable advice and guidance and are hopeful of a noticeable degree of improvement with respect to seafarers acquiring visas for calls at US ports as well as to seafarers in transit via US territories.
A temporary exception to a personal appearance requirement would be granted by the State Department to accommodate visaed crew list applications, this exception is available until the proposed final rules take effect. When new rules take effect personal appearances will be required for initial individual visa applicatants, but waived when visa extensions are sought. It will not be necessary for seafarers to apply for visas at US Consular offices in their country of citizenship, nor will seafarers be required to specify the US port of entry on their applications.
Visa validity periods, will be based on reciprocal agreements between the US and the applicants’ respective countries of citizenship, depending on the discretion of the issuing officer..
|– Darryl Rosario
with major inputs from BIMCO