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1. CRM1.1 Legislation and seafarers
Most seafarers are covered by section 8(1) of the immigration act 1971 rather than the Immigration Rules because they are in transit (under contract) to join a ship or are in transit as part of a crew. The Act gives the following definitions:
- Ship includes hovercraft and seaport includes hoverport.
- Captain means master of a ship or commander of an aircraft.
- Crew means all persons actually employed on the ship or aircraft. Staff such as security guards, are not crew members within this definition.
The only reference in the rules to crew is in paragraph 128 which exempts seafarers from obtaining a work permit when they are under contract to join a ship due to leave British waters.
2. CRM1.2 Identity documents and seafarers
Seafarers must hold either a valid passport, or a seafarers identity document (SID) containing photograph, signature (or fingerprints) and a description of the holder, including nationality.
EEA nationals coming to the UK on short term visits must produce either a National Identity Card or a passport and are not subject to restrictions.
3. CRM1.3 Seafarers arriving by ships in the United Kingdom
Under section 8(1) of the immigration act 1971 a person who arrives as a member of a ship’s crew at a port in the United Kingdom and intends leaving under engagement with the ship does not need leave to enter unless:
- there is a deportation order in force against him;
- he has at any time been refused leave to enter and has not since been given leave to enter or remain; or
- an immigration officer requires him to submit to examination under paragraph 13(1)(a) to schedule 2 of the 1971 act.
4. CRM1.4 Seafarers joining ships in the UK where the 1958 convention applies
Seafarers travelling under contract to join a ship in the UK need entry clearance (if they are visa nationals), unless they hold a document issued by a country which has ratified the 1958 International Labour Organisation (ILO) ‘seafarers identity documents convention No. 108 (see CRM1.6 below).
The document must state that it is issued under the convention but the holder does not need to be a national of that country and can also be a stateless person in order to be considered visa exempt.
The UK agreed a new convention ILO 185 in 2003 and intends to ratify, if an effective method of implementation can be identified. To date, the UK has not ratified ILO185. A small number of countries, whose seafarers previously qualified for visa exemption under ILO108, have begun to ratify ILO185 (they are most notably France, Azerbaijan and Moldova). As a result of ratifying ILO185 these countries have denounced ILO108. However, holders of documents issued by these countries should continue to be treated as visa exempt for the purpose of gaining entry to the UK. This will be regularly reviewed and risk assessed on an intelligence basis by policy and intelligence colleagues.
5. CRM1.5 Seafarers joining a ship in the UK where the convention does not apply
They must satisfy the ECO that they:
- have bona fide documentary evidence of identity and status;
- are under contract to join, as a member of its crew a ship in British waters and which is leaving British waters;
- do not intend to take other employment;
- do not intend to base themselves in the United Kingdom;
- intend to leave the UK on the next sailing;
- are not a person whom any of the general grounds for refusal or leave to enter set out in paragraph 320 or 321 apply.
The ECO may issue entry clearance if they are satisfied that the ship to be joined is already at the particular port or will be when the seaman arrives there.
6. CRM1.6 Countries which have ratified the 1958 ILO convention
The convention has been ratified by the following countries:
- Antigua & Barbuda
- Czech Republic
- Irish Republic
- Russian Federation
- St Lucia
- St Vincent & The Grenadines
- Solomon Islands
- Sri Lanka
- United Kingdom
Further information regarding the countries that have ratified the convention can be found on the International Labour Organisation website.
7. CRM1.7 Seafarers ‘visiting’ and ‘transiting’ the UK
Seafarers who are visa nationals, coming to the UK for 6 months or less for the following reasons, require a visa:
- private visits;
- travelling as passengers;
- signing on ship’s articles as supernumeraries at nominal rates of pay; or
- visiting as amateur yachtsmen.
Seafarers passing through the UK to join a ship in a port abroad must be dealt with as visitors in transit.
8. CRM1.8 Seafarers and work permits
Under paragraph 128 of the immigration rules, a seafarer will need a work permit to:
- join ferries operating between two UK ports, including ports in Norther Ireland, but not the Channel Islands or Isle of Man;
- join ‘ro-ro’ services between UK ports which carry twelve or more lorry drivers;
- join dredgers operating wholly or largely within UK waters; or
- join scheduled domestic freight services between UK ports.
Work permits are not required by the following:
- those joining ferry services to ports outside the UK, including ports in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man;
- those joining ships which will be operating out of a single UK port but where the voyage is primarily outside UK waters, for example, voyages to offshore installations, offshore dredging and dumping operations;
- entertainers, hairdressers and others not strictly crew members who are joining a ship to work on it during its voyage may be treated as contract seamen, that is, not needing work permits, provided you are satisfied that they are due to leave the UK on the ship’s next sailing.
9. CRM1.9 Stateless seafarers who hold United Kingdom ID documents
Stateless seafarers who are resident in the UK are required to hold a travel document and require visas for return to the UK if they are discharged abroad. You may need to issue the visa on a uniform format form.
Entry clearance is not required if the seaman holds a valid refugee or stateless travel document with a current leave endorsement of certificate of identity issued by the Home Office authorising re-entry without a visa.
10. CRM1.10 Visa endorsement for crew joining a ship /plane
D: Joining aircraft/ship (name) at (name of port). This endorsement is not for those in transit.
11. CRM1.11 Refusing seafarers
Entry should be refused under sections 12(2) and 13(2) immigration act 1971.