As to non-immigrant visas, much depends on which country they are from as to whether the are from a country that is part of the visa waiver program.
I would expect that free pratique would not be granted by the Customs
and Border Patrol at the port of entry. They will be inspected and most assuredly will be required to undergo quarantine, likely 14 days remaining at anchor
and likely not permitted to moor to land so as to mitigate interaction with land based personnel. They should call ahead to the CBP office at the port they are headed to give notice of arrival 48 hours ahead of time would be warranted and to discuss the detail procedure. You can Google
that office and call to discuss the particulars.
The suspension of visa services would affect both immigrant and non-immigrant visa services at embassies in countries with a U.S. State Department travel advisory level of 2, 3, or 4.
As of Wednesday that includes around 100 countries for which warnings have been issued, according to the U.S. State Department website. Reasons for those warnings range from outbreaks of the new coronavirus to war to crime.
The US State Department issued a Level 4 advisory for the entire globe today, Do Not Travel Anywhere. The US and Canada
will preclude non-essential travel between the countries effective Friday night and discussion are underway to also preclude non-essential travel between the USA and Mexico
. Recreational yachting is non-essential travel so yes they may be told to return to their country and not permitted into the USA, worst case scenario. They came across the Atlantic, they could return.
As to the vise services being suspended the State Department spokeswoman said the move would not affect the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which enables most citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. But this is not ordinary times and all travel is being suspended, so I suspect the VWP is likely overridden by the travel ban.
Consular and visa services announcements
On March 18, 2020, travel.state.gov (U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs Visa Office) posted the following news alert:
"In response to worldwide challenges related to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Department of State is suspending routine visa services in most countries worldwide. Embassies and consulates in these countries will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 18, 2020. Check the website of the embassy or consulate for its current
operating status. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide urgent and emergency
These Embassies will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time. Although all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled, the MRV fee is valid and may be used for a visa appointment in the country where it was paid within one year of the date of payment.
This does not affect the visa waiver program.
Services to U.S. citizens continue to be available. More information is available on the Embassy’s website.
Applicants with an urgent matter and need to travel immediately should follow the guidance provided at the Embassy’s website to request an emergency
A similar message was tweeted and posted on its Facebook page:
"In response to worldwide challenges related to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Department of State is suspending routine visa services in most countries worldwide. Embassies and consulates in these countries will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 18, 2020. These embassies and consulates will resume routine visa services as soon as possible, but we are unable to provide a specific date at this time. Check the website of the embassy or consulate for its current
operating status: usembassy.gov.
Services to U.S. citizens will continue at U.S. embassies and consulates overseas, but the availability of these services may be limited. Check the website of an individual embassy or consulate to determine their operating status and find emergency contact information."
To find embassy or consulate websites, go to https://www.usembassy.gov/
. The embassy links get you to the right embassy website, but you will have to do some clicking to find relevant COVID-19 information, as each embassy website is structured a bit differently.