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Author Topic: Alaskan cruise and US visas  (Read 1738 times)

lindavid1

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Alaskan cruise and US visas
« on: November 22, 2014, 06:12:28 AM »
Hi guys,

My wife and I are touring the US and Canada on B2 visas.
We will have been in the US for 6 months in May and intend to go into Canada for about 4 months before re-entering the US.
Our problem could be that in June we would like to do a 7 days cruise to Alaska. On the shore trips we would be entering the US again - do they do passport checks etc and would they let us in as it would only be a month or so since we exited the US.
Also if they did, would that initiate the next 6 month visa visit meaning that if we spent 4 months in Canada we would only have 2 months in the US before the visa ran out?
It seems very confusing and problematic as I know it depend upon the individual border guard who assesses you.
Any help would be much appreciated.

David and Linda

Sr Fox

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Re: Alaskan cruise and US visas
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2014, 07:26:56 AM »
The 6 month limit is per year, and you are right that you will only have 2 months left so you should have no problem getting back in to Canada at all.  You are not the first to have done this. They will do passport checks.
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Tom

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Re: Alaskan cruise and US visas
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2014, 07:36:10 AM »
That's a good question(s), and I don't know the answer. The only times I've entered the U.S. by sea (on a cruise ship, on our own boat or a friends' boat), the officers drove from their office and came aboard dockside; As a result, they did not have immediate access to their electronic systems. However, in each case, they did check passports. Since we were U.S. citizens, they weren't checking visas, but they were serious about the passports.

On one trip, I'd put our passports 'in a safe place' 3 months earlier and couldn't remember where they were; In this case, an officer made a phone call to their office to confirm I was "in their computer'". Since I travelled internationally extensively, I had numerous entries in the computer, and they told me "you're good to go".

All this was prior to 9/11, and things might have changed significantly since then.
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Tom

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Re: Alaskan cruise and US visas
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2014, 07:39:01 AM »
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The 6 month limit is per year

Since they're coming from the UK on B2 visas, the 6-month limit is per visit, not per year. Quite different from limitations placed on Canadians visiting the U.S.
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Ernie n Tara

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Re: Alaskan cruise and US visas
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2014, 08:04:24 AM »
When you get to Alaska, you're back in the states anyway!
Ernie 'n Tara

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Tom

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Re: Alaskan cruise and US visas
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2014, 08:12:38 AM »
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When you get to Alaska, you're back in the states anyway!

That's why they asked the question. If they wish to leave the ship for a shore trip, the rules change as far as a visa requirements and "entry/re-entry to the U.S.". If they didn't plan to go ashore, it would be similar to being in a transit lounge at an airport; In most countries (Japan is an exception), you haven't entered the country if you remain in the transit lounge.
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lindavid1

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Re: Alaskan cruise and US visas
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2014, 08:32:58 AM »
Tom,
Does that mean we cannot really go ashore in Alaska without affecting our B2 visa?

Tom

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Re: Alaskan cruise and US visas
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2014, 09:35:11 AM »
No, that's not what I'm saying. With or without Alaska, your B2 visas are valid for some extended time (when I lived in the UK, my B1/B2 visas stamped in my passports used to say "valid for multiple entry" and were good for 10 years indefinitely).

Visas do not actually grant entry to the US; They only allow arrival at a port of entry. Entry beyond there is granted for some duration (6 months max) by an officer/agent, and the "leave by" date will be recorded on form I-94. The I-94 is/used to be the landing card that you are given on the plane before arriving in the U.S., and stapled in your passport by the officer. Nowadays, I believe they use electronic I-94's, so they may not staple a paper version in your passport, although the "official" web sites still refer to the paper form.

My simple reading of, and answer to, your original question is:

1. If/when you re-enter the U.S., there should be no reason you wouldn't be allowed in, and you'd probably be given a "fresh" 6 months stay.

2. The unnkown (in my mind) is if they would issue you an I-94 on the cruise ship when you dock in Alaska. If they did, it would initiate a "fresh" 6 months  entry.

3. Assuming the '4 months in Canada' is after the cruise, one way to not have the clock continue to tick might be to officially end the U.S. stay when you arrive back in Canada. If nobody collects the I-94 or records the end of stay, there are a couple of ways to notify the authorities.

4. Presumably, you'd wish to re-enter the U.S. after the remaining 4 months in Canada. You need to know if any of the above will affect your re-entry.

I need to refer you to some "official" links for you to do further reading and fully answer your question. But, I'll mention one concern should you attempt to enter the U.S. three times in succession; We've (anecdotally) heard of one British couple who were denied the third entry because it appeared to the officer that they entered Canada multiple times merely for the purpose of getting around the system and extending their total time in the U.S.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2014, 04:00:04 AM by Tom »
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Tom

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Re: Alaskan cruise and US visas
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2014, 10:03:35 AM »
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I need to refer you to some "official" links for you to do further reading

A good start would be the links in the 'sticky' messages at the top of this Board.
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lindavid1

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Re: Alaskan cruise and US visas
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2014, 06:12:14 AM »
Thanks Tom,
You are obviously well clued up on visas and your help is much appreciated.
On speaking with the Holland America people they say they have come across this before and suggest obtaining a dispensation from the CBP specifically for the cruise and this will show on our computer file.
I will look into this in more detail

Tom

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Re: Alaskan cruise and US visas
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2014, 08:21:51 AM »
Good advice from the cruise lne. I've read of special handling for cruises departing from, and returing to, a US port. There may be some way they have of handling your situation.

Part of the challenge is the interpretation by the individual officer/agent and the confusing/changing rules they have to deal with; These folks do a great job, but often have to make decisions/interpretations on the spot with a long line of people in front of them. My personal experience in entering the U.S. countless times, as a tourist, a business traveller, foreign (U.K.) national, holder of various different visas, U.S. resident, and U.S. citizen has always been positive, but it's a personal thing; I always treat the agent with respect and answer their questions truthfully, giving them no reson to distrust me, although my still-thick Welsh accent sometimes raises an eyebrow. They have little time for small talk, and jokes are a no-no. I'm also not afraid to politely correct obvious errors on their part.

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... this will show on our computer file.

How things have changed over the years. When I first started crossing the Atlantic in the 70's, the agents at US airports used to manually look through long lists in 'black books' that were 12" (30 cm) thick before deciding to grant entry ;D

BTW the U.S. does not have the equivalent of the UK's Passport Control when you leave the U.S. There are references to implentation of an "electronic passport control", but it still currently relies on the airline or cruise line to let them know you left. IMHO that merely adds to the issue you're dealing with.

Good luck, and please let us know if/how you resolve this, so we can be more helpful to others in the future.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 04:39:37 AM by Tom »
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