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Old 12-11-2013, 15:39   #1
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Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

Esteemed forum members,

We are currently anchored in Aruba, and mid Dec we are planning to sail to Jamaica, then Cuba, Dom Rep, Puerto Rico and on to the BVI.
Truth be told, i almost forgot, but so we need to organize a visum for Puerto Rico. (I have a Dutch passport, my girlfriend a Brazilian passport). We plan on max staying 3 weeks in PR (different locations). As it so happens, it is a very, very dificult process to actually get a visa for the USA (in this case PR), $$$ wise, interviews and what have you. It maybe just to be too cumbersome to try to get visa, so, we would have to skip PR on our way from Dom Rep to BVI. My question is, what if, due to either bad weather or otherwise we need to stop in a PR harbour, can we say yellow flag, stay on board, and just seek shelter, and then continue? Any opinions, comments.??? Thanks a lot in advance.
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Pieter and Dora
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Old 12-11-2013, 17:03   #2
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Re: Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

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Originally Posted by Pieter View Post
My question is, what if, due to either bad weather or otherwise we need to stop in a PR harbour, can we say yellow flag, stay on board, and just seek shelter, and then continue? Any opinions, comments.??? Thanks a lot in advance.
Best rgds
Pieter and Dora
SV Onda Boa
Blog: Ocean of Dreams

I think you are not the first to think about pushing the envelope on "innocent passage" as per UNCLOS, etc, without permission from the host state.. Just do not try it in the US because those CBP folks may not take it kindly..

I suggest you call >CBPs Puerto Rican reporting line 1-877-529-6840 or 1-(787) 729-6840 and ask them what would would happen if you arrive on a foreign boat with alien crew (that is what they call you!) without a visa but plan to stay on boat, rest and continue.. With a bit of luck they will say what the Brazilians say, which is that you have 24 hours to leave but there is no problem provided you do not land, exchange goods, etc..

Make sure you read the following page that talks about "designated sites" and required "reporting" phone calls, and penalties for not reporting

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands - CBP.gov

By the way, the CBP folks in PR seem to be the friendliest in CBP. Once I got them to clear me into Vieques by email when they were not at their office when they were supposed to.

Fair winds

C
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Old 13-11-2013, 05:23   #3
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Re: Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

Hello C, and thank you for your much appreciated info. I will certainly contact them in PR and see what will happen.
On a more philosofical tone: we are sailing around in South America and the Caribbean, and we have yet to encounter such harsh obsticals, to the point that one doesnt feel welcome and give the country a miss. I mean in some countries the procedures maybe strange/dificult/time consuming, but usualy is do-able on site without spending time, and $$$ (non refundable by the way).
Anyway, thanks again.
Fair winds and following seas.
Pieter
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Old 13-11-2013, 05:59   #4
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Re: Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

don't even dream of chancing your arm , without the proper visas. the US didnt actually ratify UNCLOS anyway.

get the paperwork or avoid the country

Id have to say, how did you ever think anything else was possible!

dave
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Old 13-11-2013, 06:06   #5
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Re: Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

Hi Dave, and thanks for your comments. I guess you are right, when it comes to personal freedom and liberty, I can get sometimes a little naive. But then again, that is why i am living on a sailboat...
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Old 13-11-2013, 18:50   #6
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Re: Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

Hey, the USA is the land of Liberty and Freedom. That's why they have to keep us out!

[Tongue firmly in cheek]
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Old 13-11-2013, 19:18   #7
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Re: Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

Thanks for yr thoughts.. Meanwhile, i am still chewing on this... apply for a visa or not...Again, mind you, there is a rather high non refundable cost involved. And actualy i dont think i qualify at this moment.. Living onboard, no fixed, steady job, no fixed adress, i own some assests, but would i have to start creating a lie just to try and be able to anchor out in some harbours in PR... for a couple of weeks? I am no criminal, nothing to hide.. Like all other cruisers.. How do non US citizens, yachties like me apply and actualy get a visa.. I am just curious...Best rgds Pieter
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Old 13-11-2013, 20:18   #8
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Thanks for yr thoughts.. Meanwhile, i am still chewing on this... apply for a visa or not...Again, mind you, there is a rather high non refundable cost involved. And actualy i dont think i qualify at this moment.. Living onboard, no fixed, steady job, no fixed adress, i own some assests, but would i have to start creating a lie just to try and be able to anchor out in some harbours in PR... for a couple of weeks? I am no criminal, nothing to hide.. Like all other cruisers.. How do non US citizens, yachties like me apply and actualy get a visa.. I am just curious...Best rgds Pieter
The visa is valid for 10 years. We got it in Panama which was not so hard at all... just keep cool and go with the flow

Oh, we also went to PR without the visa and it cost us a $200 penalty each, so that is $400 and we got a single entry 6-month visa waiver for that. We had tried to get the visa in the DR but the procedure there took 7 months at the time. In PR they acknowledged this but still said we should have just stayed there the 7 months to get it. This was a long time ago, I think they will throw you in jail today.

Also, east of the PR you get the Spanish Virgins and the US Virgins... all require the US visa.
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Old 13-11-2013, 20:56   #9
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Re: Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

Have any Aussies sailed in PR or USVI with just the ESTA Visa Waiver?



Have online applied for the B2 visa and paid rather expensive application fees but have to wait 3 weeks for an appointment and worried that we wont get our passports back in the 10 days between appointment and our departure flight. Have tried calling US embassy but get a call centre (accents sound like its in the Phillipines or Marshalls etc) and they just tell you to ask at the appointment. Sent email to embassy asking how long till we get passports back or if we could have earlier appointment and still havent had a reply week latter.

Before the visa waiver system was available we had b2 visas (9 years ago) we anchored, radioed in, and taxied straight to immigration and customs in both PR and USVI.
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Old 14-11-2013, 05:21   #10
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Re: Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

Hey Karabil, I am curious to learn if there are indeed more Aussies who have sailed with just the ESTA visa. Actualy, having read a lot of docs, it seems that if you are not arriving with an aproved carrier (air or sea), ie.. your own sailboat, you have to apply for a non immigrant visa, and cant use the ESTA visa waiver thing. May i ask, where did you apply for having the interview? Good luck

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Old 14-11-2013, 05:31   #11
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Re: Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

Pieter,

you are correct - visa waiver is only applicable if you arrive with a "licensed carrier". In the USVI they told us to go back to BVI, come in on the ferry, get passports stamped, go back and get the boat. It was too much time at that time, and this time we have the visas - it was actually a breeze to get them.

Oliver
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Old 14-11-2013, 05:39   #12
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Re: Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

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Pieter,

you are correct - visa waiver is only applicable if you arrive with a "licensed carrier". In the USVI they told us to go back to BVI, come in on the ferry, get passports stamped, go back and get the boat. It was too much time at that time, and this time we have the visas - it was actually a breeze to get them.

Oliver
IIRC, technically it's illegal to 'go back and get the boat'. But, one could arrive via commercial carrier then hire a delivery captain for the last leg of the trip for the boat. It's OK to arrive via commercial carrier and leave on a private vessel.
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Old 14-11-2013, 08:29   #13
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Re: Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

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Originally Posted by Oliver L. View Post
Pieter,

you are correct - visa waiver is only applicable if you arrive with a "licensed carrier". In the USVI they told us to go back to BVI, come in on the ferry, get passports stamped, go back and get the boat. It was too much time at that time, and this time we have the visas - it was actually a breeze to get them.

Oliver
Hi Oliver,

Thanks for your comments. Can you inform where you got the visa for the USA?
Thanks
Pieter
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Old 14-11-2013, 11:32   #14
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Hi Oliver, Thanks for your comments. Can you inform where you got the visa for the USA? Thanks Pieter
At a US embassy or consulate. You can find on-line which ones do this and which ones not. You can even find how long it takes for each embassy. When we were in Curacao, we could not get the visa there, but they may have changed that.
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Old 14-11-2013, 16:21   #15
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Re: Visiting Puerto Rico by Sailboat Non US Citizens

Pieter we have applied at our home city of Melbourne in Australia.

I suppose we will head off to our interview and if they cant assure us we get passports back in time we will not leave them there and will just sail on past the us territories.
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