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Voyage of Traveler / Blog » Traveler: Yansen (Almost) Gets Deported…

Voyage of Traveler / Blog

March 4, 2010

Traveler: Yansen (Almost) Gets Deported…

Filed under: Year 3: July09 - July10 Greece to Newport Beach, CA, Caribbean — mrlawlerjr @ 9:12 am

First the bad news:
When we arrived in Fajardo, Puerto Rico the US Customs and Border Patrol found a technical flaw with Yansen’s visa and deported him!  I had to sign a form acknowledging his deportation and taking responsibility for removing him by departing via Traveler immediately.  If not, I too could be arrested!  I begged for a few days for us to see Puerto Rico, and the supervisor granted us a stay of five days.  But before the five days are up we must “depart foreign” which he explained as meaning we must leave Puerto Rico headed for a foreign country and must not try to enter the US with Yansen onboard at another US port of entry or risk arrest.  The supervisor also told me he created an electronic file on Yansen, on me and on the Yacht Traveler, so any US Customs and Border Patrol officer at any port of entry will see the deportation record.

I was stunned. I pleaded my case with the supervisor, told him every detail about Yansen’s visa, how I sponsored his application for a crew visa when we were in Morocco and the US State Department issued it after a lengthy interview and application review.  I told him I am an attorney and that I thoroughly researched the applicable immigration law and thought the visa was proper.  He told me that it was not proper because a crew visa is not available for a US flagged yacht if it is home-ported in the US.  The supervisor even called his supervisor in San Juan and got the same answer.

The way I left it with the supervisor was I politely asked him to do more research on the law and to review Yansen’s visa application, which he could get electronically from the State Department.  He said he has been doing this for 22 years and was sure he was right, but would look at the file and the law.

Yansen was not with me at the time, as usual.  (Typically, when a yacht arrives, the captain alone goes to immigration with the passports for all crew.) On the way back to Traveler, I worried how Yansen would react to the bad news.  He was devastated and confused.  How could the US State Department issue a visa and then the Border Patrol decide it was issued incorrectly and deny entry?  I told Yansen I need some time to think about what to do. We considered, as one option, flying him back home to Indonesia from Mexico, just before we finish the voyage.

Four days later I returned to the immigration office to advise them that we were ‘departing foreign’ and requested a clearance (a routine document required by the next country–for us the Dominican Republic.) The supervisor came to the window and immediately said I was right and apologized for his error.  He revoked the deportation, told me he corrected the electronic file and said Yansen’s visa was proper and we were good to go to the US.  He said he requested the visa application file form the US State Department, which was forwarded to him via an email, and then studied the law, and again said I was right and he was wrong.  Wow!  I was stunned, again.  All I could say was “Apology accepted.  Thank you.”

Yansen was, of course, pleased with the news.  But he was still a bit baffled by the whole affair.  Me too.

Living the Dream,


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