Posted on August 29, 2019 by Ilias Kiritsis
The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has issued a statement decrying latest move on behalf of the US State Department to deny US visas to seafarers that have worked on a vessel carrying Iranian oil.
The State Department originally declared on August the 15th that they would deny entry to the US, to crewmembers found to be passively or actively supporting Iran.
"The IRGC has been designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the United States. Crewmembers of vessels assisting the IRGC by transporting oil from Iran may be ineligible for visas or admission to the United States under the terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds . . . of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” reads the statement from the State Department.
However, ITF has now responded to the US State Department, suggesting that this policy shows a clear lack of understanding as to how the maritime industry operates.
ITF maintains that it is unreasonable to expect that seafarers will have any choice in regard to the destination of a vessel or the contents of its cargo.
“Seafarers, whether they are ratings or officers, rarely know where the vessel is bound. Ordinarily, a vessel is instructed by the ship management company to sail a certain course with further directions to be given later.
“If a vessel is directed to an Iranian port, it’s common that the captain will be the only one who knows the destination a day or two before.”
“The crew, especially ratings and lower-ranking officers, will not know and have no possibility to refuse or disembark the vessel during the voyage.”
“In addition, seafarers usually have no idea who actually owns the vessel on which they are working, much less who owns the cargo,” said Dave Heindel, ITF Seafarer Section Chair in a statement.
Given the reality of how the maritime industry operates, it would be increasingly difficult for a low-ranking seafarer to be able to discern the origin of the cargo, especially in the case of transloaded cargos.
The expectation that a crew-member will be able to tell the difference between Iranian and IRGC cargo, and choose to act based on that information, could potentially be construed as unreasonable.