February 2, 2017

As has been widely reported in the news, on 27 January, US President Trump issued an EO banning for 90 days any immigrant or non-immigrant entry into the US of foreign citizens from Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Iraq and Libya. The opinion of the Club’s lawyers in New York (Freehill Hogan & Mahar) is that for the next 90 days crew members from Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Iraq and Libya, whether or not they hold visas, may well be denied entry to the US.

At this point the implementation of the EO is not entirely clear. For example, it appeared initially that it would apply to foreign citizens who are permanent residents of the US (green-card holders) but on 29 January the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement that the re-entry into the US of foreign permanent residents was in the national interest and their entry would be  permitted: “…absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare…”

Freehill Hogan & Mahar recommend that ship owners with crew members from any of the seven countries avoid any crew changes in the US.  It is to be expected, at least for the time being, that the Customs, Security and Revenue authorities will exercise very limited discretion in the enforcement of this EO. Ship owners should anticipate that crew from the seven affected countries will be denied shore leave if their ship calls at a US port. Section 3(g) of the EO provides a limited exception to the ban if there is a medical emergency which means that a crew change in the US is necessary and which involves crew from one of the seven designated  countries.

Members who have crew from the seven countries involved should contact local agents of correspondents for more precise and up to date information as the situation may change at short notice.