CSR Protests New Rule that Further Erodes Shore Leave in U.S. Ports

Wednesday, July 16, 2003
The Center for Seafarers' Rights (CSR) of the Seamen's Church Institute of New York & New Jersey has formally protested the elimination of the personal appearance waiver for visa applicants by the U.S. State Department. The ship's operators will now have to bring the entire crew to a consular office in order for the seafarers to receive crewmember D-1 crew list visas required for shore leave in the United States. In December 2002, the U.S. State Department announced its intention to eliminate crew list visas. "The State Department responded to international criticism over its intention to eliminate crew list visas by making them impossible to get," said Mr. Douglas B. Stevenson, Esq. Director of the Center for Seafarers' Rights. "This action also controverts efforts in the worldwide maritime community to reach a consensus on an international seafarers' identity card and contradicts the products of recent discussions that took place at the International Labor Organization on the identity card issue," said Mr. Stevenson. The United States already places a significant hardship on foreign merchant mariners by being the only major maritime country in the world that requires crewmember visas at all. The Center for Seafarers' Rights of the Seamen's Church Institute is a worldwide resource for legal research, education, advocacy and assistance on seafarers' rights issues. The Center provides free counseling and referrals to merchant seafarers and seafarers' welfare agencies worldwide. The Center also works to improve national and international laws and practices protecting seafarers and improving maritime safety. CSR participates in IMO meetings, States Parties to the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention in New York City, and the International Labor Organization in Geneva. Before joining the Seamen's Church Institute as Director of the Center for Seafarers' Rights in 1990, Mr. Stevenson served 20 years as a U.S. Coast Guard Officer, retiring as a Commander. While in the Coast Guard, Mr. Stevenson served in a variety of legal and operational assignments, including command at sea and a diplomatic post at the United States Mission to the United Nations. He is a graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy and the University of Miami School of Law.

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