Cruise Lines

by | Mar 8, 2022 | IMMIGRATION LAW

Be careful of cruise lines and immigration. Cruise line employees are not immigration lawyers. Let me say it again – cruise line employees are not immigration lawyers. They are not even that well informed about immigration law and more importantly they have a financial interest directly opposed to giving you the correct information. They want you to pay and get on the boat.
Unfortunately, I see many folks who come to my office, year after year, with essentially the same problem. They called the cruise line and they were told it was okay to travel. This is particularly true with a short trip cruises that leave out of Long Beach.
Since 2015, there are no longer cruises to “nowhere” because regulations require that when non-US citizens are working on a cruise ship they must visit a foreign port of call during their travel in order to satisfy the requirement that they are not working in the United States. Those cruises to nowhere didn’t require US immigration documents for travelers because, even though they often entered foreign waters, Customs and Border Patrol determined that they didn’t leave the United States for immigration purposes. This old regulation may lead to some of the confusion among cruise line employees.
There seems to be two categories of problems that arise for travelers. First, some individuals think that they are not really going to a foreign country because the ship only travels for a couple of days and they don’t go very far. This is particularly true because of the proximity of Long Beach to Mexico.
The other common issue is for individuals have some sort of quasi-immigration status in the USA and the employees of the cruise line decide that this will be satisfactory for international travel. The quasi status is that I’m referring to are things like Temporary Protected Status or a U-Visa, which is essentially a work permit however there is no real provision for travel. In addition, folks who have an application pending and although they are permitted to remain in the United States until their case is decided will be deemed to have abandoned application if they travel without first obtaining separate permission to travel. This permission to travel is called Advance Parole. Many folks are married to US citizens who have filed for them and then mistakenly take a three day cruise to Mexico without proper travel documents because cruise employees told him it was okay. These travelers, unfortunately, get a rude awakening when they return and border patrol tells them they have not only abandoned their application but they also have no legal right to re-enter the United States. If they are lucky border patrol, will show some mercy and will allow them to re-enter the United States on a provisional basis call parole and then to re-file for the green card application. This often happens but travelers cannot count on this act of kindness. Unless you’re a lawful permanent resident of the United States or are you a citizen it’s best to talk to an immigration lawyer long before taking one of these short cruises.

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