The Center for Seafarers' Rights Demands End to Crew Visas

Monday, April 01, 2002
The Seamen's Church Institute's Center for Seafarers Rights (CSR) today called for the United States to eliminate crew visas.

The recent incident of four Pakistani seafarers jumping ship after receiving visa waivers and the subsequent denial of shore leave for the ship's remaining crewmembers clearly demonstrates the need for the United States to review its shore leave policies.

"A flawed crew visa policy resulted in the disciplining of the INS officer in the Norfolk case, while threatening to tighten already overly restricted shore leave controls -without enhancing national security," said Douglas B. Stevenson, Director of the Center for Seafarers' Rights said in a letter to the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

"The condition of a vessel and the treatment of its crew provide a far better means of evaluating ship-jumping risks," continued Mr. Stevenson who is a former U.S. Coast Guard Commander. "Greatly increasing penalties to the owners or operators of ships from which crew jump would prove a far more effective method of preventing illegal entry than increasing restrictions on shore leave."

Mariners who are well-paid and well-treated by their employers are extremely unlikely to jump ship. Greatly increasing penalties to the owners or operators of ships from which crew jump would prove a far more effective method of preventing illegal entry than increasing restrictions on shore leave.

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