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Old 02-08-2009, 13:13   #16
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MustangSally - please only comment about things that you understand.

Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
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Old 02-08-2009, 13:17   #17
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Sorry, the previous post sounded harsher than it was meant to be. This information is both from private experience and from official U.S. Government web sites and sources. If you make such an assertion that is in direct contravention to what I've experienced and is common knowledge, please cite your source of information.
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Old 02-08-2009, 13:25   #18
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As a charter boat we have had guests aboard numerous times from the UK this past winter. They did not have visas ahead of time but were issued a small piece of paper (i don't think it was a visa but may have been) when they landed on St Thomas USVI. We then sailed into the BVi and back into the USVI and nothing was required. They then handed the small piece of paper back in when they flew out of St Thomas.
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Old 02-08-2009, 13:30   #19
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Please re-read my earlier post. If you clear into the USA via the VWP and then keep your I-94 (piece of white paper) when departing then you can re-enter the USA by any means, including a private or charter vessel, while the I-94 is still valid, since one has not officially "left" the USA. I can wager that none of your customers tried to enter the USA without a visa or I-94 in their possession.
The rules remain - the VWP program does not apply when entering the USA via a method that is not in the officially approved carrier list.
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Old 02-08-2009, 16:59   #20
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Both of you are in agreement only using different words. - The UK or anyother VWP or long form US visa holder who enters via commercial airline - has a valid visa or the airline would not have let them on the airliner at their departure point. There is a massive monetary fine to any airline who fails to ensure that their passengers are in possession of a valid visa prior to boarding the airliner. And if one slips through the airline not only has to pay the fine but must take the person back to their departure city and eat that cost (over and above any money their got from the round trip ticket the passenger purchased).
Entering any US port (with includes airports) on anything other than the approved airlines, approved cruise ships, ferries, etc. (and specifically does not includes private sailing vessels) requires a long form pre-approved Visa which it very costly and time consuming to acquire. The "ferry option" between the BVI and USVI is well known and used extensively by cruisers coming up island and heading west to gain access to the USVI and Puerto Rico. It is also technically available heading east from the Dominican Republic but unfortunately the Ferries only leave from Santo Domingo and are very expensive so nobody uses it.
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Old 25-10-2010, 18:15   #21
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You all sound like you really understand the customs and immigration of both these islands so since this tread has been idle I am wondering if you could help me with my question. We are all US citizens.

I have a boat in St. Martin and will clear out of there, sailing to St. Thomas and clearing in. The boat is BVI private registered. I'm having family fly into St. Thomas and meet me at the docks (not sure which ones right now). Then we would leave and cruise around St. John for two days then go to BVI's for 4 days. Then we would return to St. Thomas for them to fly out and I'd return on the boat to St. Martin. The question is, do the passengers need to do anything with c & i on St. Thomas? Do I have to clear out? I understand I'll have to clear in to BVI but what will I need for clearance papers? Something showing crew names? When I clear out of BVI and back into USVI what will we need then? Just my clearance papers from the BVI?

If it's too much of a hassle I can have everyone fly to EIS but it would cost about $1500 more for the group. We also would like to spend a few days in St. John.

Thank you for any assistance.
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Old 25-10-2010, 20:38   #22
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Assuming that every person on your boat and every person joining your boat is a USA citizen - you are involved in nothing more than what is the normal procedures for charterers in the Virgin Islands. You check yourself, crew and the charter boat into the USVI at Charlotte Amalie and afterward load your visiting US citizen crew-passengers. Then you sail the USVI to your heart's content. To go to the B.V.I. you sail to the desired port of entry in the BVI and present your boat papers and all the passports of you and your "crew." When you return to the USVI, you turn in the departure cards/slips to the BVI officials and do the same procedure in Charlotte Amalie that you did the first time except you add the passports of your visiting crew. Then they fly home. Since normally as a US citizen you do not check-out of the USA you sail the boat back to St. Martin and check in there before flying home.
- - Also assuming the boat you are on is a bare-boat charter boat from St. Martin, you should have no problems with the ship's papers as the charter company normally has a lot of experience in providing you with what you need to get the boat into and out of the Virgin Islands. But, make sure that the charter company is absolutely aware of your itinerary and approves it.
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Old 25-10-2010, 20:54   #23
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It's not a charter boat but I'm pretty sure I have all the papers required. I had originally thought since they where coming in from the US to the US they wouldn't need to clear in. I've never had this situation so from what your suggesting I simply add them to the boats clearance paperwork. I suppose since we really aren't criminals I don't have to worry to much about it as the c & i will straighten me out somehow.
Thanks for good advise again.
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Old 25-10-2010, 21:21   #24
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The boat is separate from the people on the boat. You have to present the ship's valid documentation to each customs office along with a legal statement of permission to use the boat - if you do not own the boat. If the boat is not a bareboat charter boat then you have the additional hassle of getting a US Cruising Permit for the boat. This aspect will probably be your only concern.
- - The USVI and Puerto Rico are the USA with one minor quirk. St Thomas is a "free-port" which means any USA citizen must fill out a customs declaration for anything purchased in St Thomas on their return back to P.R. or mainland USA. Otherwise, they have never left the USA until you sail across to the BVI. The immigration process is straight forward and simple. Remember - everybody must have a valid USA passport!
- - Whether or not you are criminals makes no difference when you tangle with any Customs/Immigration officials. Having the paperwork correct is all they care about. There is no dispensation for stupidity or failure to follow the correct procedures. Have everything neat and ready and you will breeze through the process.
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