Superyacht Crew Visa’s Explained
What visa do I need to work on a yacht?
For this article, I am going to have to be very general about my advice.
When you are a professional yacht crew member, it is an understatement to say that you will be ‘travelling a lot’, whether it be by air, sea or land.
You will find that the one thing that comes up in conversation is what visa do I need for XXX country.
Therefore, to explain the superyacht crew visa topic, without waffling on too much, I will break down the requirements into locations.
Consequently, the three types of visa’s that we will discuss here are:
- Schengen visa
- USA B1/B2 visa
- The Australian superyacht crew visa
For all visa processes and to make the application as easy and as stress-free as possible, make sure your passport is up to date with more than twelve months validity on it.
The Schengen Visa
The Schengen Area consists of 22 European Union (EU) state members and four non-EU members who are, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Ireland has also opted out of the Schengen policy, and they operate a separate visa policy.
At the time of writing this, the United Kingdom is battling their way through Brexit, but at this stage, UK citizens may move freely within the EU. Furthermore, the UK also run a separate visa programme.
Nationals of EU countries and Schengen nations are visa-exempt and are allowed to reside, move freely and work in each other’s countries.
For those nations outside of the EU and the Schengen visa agreement, then the following rules apply.
They are the Annexe 1 and Annexe 11.
The list of countries in Annexe I includes Asia, Africa and South America (Western part), Russia and China; this means that South Africans and Filipinos are eligible to apply.
The Annexe II countries include the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Annexe II citizens need a visa only if they intend to stay for more than 90 days within 180 days.
Therefore, no visa is required for citizens from Annexe II countries to enter the Schengen area.
Below is a generalised explanation of the Schengen visas for non-EU citizens there are:
- Transit type B visa
- Short-stay type C visa
- Longstay type D visa
The first one is the transit visa, and it is commonly known as the Type B visa. As a yacht crew member, who travels a lot, you may know this visa as an entry or exit visa.
That is to say that this visa is only required if you are passing through a Schengen state for no more than five days.
For example, Transit type B visa is very applicable if your visa has expired and you still need to travel home.
The second type is the short-stay type C visa. This visa is valid for 1 to 5 years. When the visa expires, renewal can be testing.
This visa can not be changed, renewed or extended within the Schengen area. You must leave the Schengen area and reapply.
The documents needed for this visa are:
- The employment letter
- Crew/work contract
- Port letter and yachts itinerary
- The yachts registration details
- Personal travel insurance
In addition to the above requirements, there is a subsection to this visa referring to the “short” part of the visa name. The short-stay relates to the 90 days in and 90 days out within a 180 day period.
Essentially this means that if the yacht intends to spend the summer months cruising within the Schengen area then, the crew member will have to be stamped out by the shipping agent, rendering the crew member limited to the yachts flagged state.
At the end of the season, the crew member can be stamped back into the Schengen area, meaning that the time spent onboard under the flag state was time sent outside of the EU or Schengen area.
The third type of visa is the Longstay type D visa. The type D visa is the best visa to obtain a because it is renewable within the Schengen area.
The visa can be obtained by presenting the same paperwork are the type C visa.
The USA is a megabase for the superyacht industry.
By its very nature, it draws hundreds of young and aspiring superyacht crew, looking for work and adventure on the high seas.
If you are not a US citizen or hold a green card, then you will need to apply for a B1/B2 visa to work on board a superyacht in US waters.
According to the U.S. State Department website,
“The visitor visa is a type of non-immigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure, tourism or medical treatment (B-2)”.
This visa must not be confused with the C1/D visa which is a crew visa, broadly used for maritime personnel including a cruise ship and cargo vessels.
Unlike the Australian visa, the USA visa is not a straight forward visa to gain.
US Department of State is particularly interested in your ties with your own country.
You must be prepared to show that you pay taxes elsewhere, rent a home or can prove that you reside somewhere else in the world, which means that you are in no way interested in overstaying your visa or have illegal immigration intentions.
To obtain a B1/B2 visa, you really need to have all of your paperwork in order, including a letter of employment from your yacht.
The letter of employment is not stated on the website, so I guess it’s not technically required, but it sure will help during the interview process.
Next, you will need to fill out a DS-160 form and make an appointment with your nearest US consulate general or embassy.
Be prepared for some tough and at times, rude questioning.
Other helpful papers, as mentioned above, include phone records, utility bills, bank statements and other documents that show that you reside happily elsewhere.
Please take the time to research this information accurately.
The Australian Superyacht Crew Visa
The Australian superyacht crew visa was explicitly created to encourage the growth of the superyacht industry in Australia. Therefore, it is very straight forward to gain this visa.
You must have a contract to work on a superyacht in Australian waters, and a supporting letter from the owner of the yacht confirming the person’s employment.
If you are not an Australian citizen, you will need to apply for this visa. The temporary activity visa (subclass 408) Superyacht crew stream, allows you to work in Australia as a crewmember of a superyacht.
You can travel to and from Australia as many times as you want while your visa is valid.
The visa is valid for 12 months, with a maximum stay of up to 2 years. Furthermore, this visa is also renewable and you can do it online.