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May 30th, 2012

Coast Guard Defines Rules for Employment of Foreign Workers on US Vessels

The United States Coast Guard has released a Marine Safety Information Bulletin  to provide guidance regarding the employment of non-American citizens on board US-flagged vessels.

According to the guidance, vessel operators must be aware of the citizenship waiver limitations for vessels returning to the US after operating from a foreign port. According to the bulletin, the citizenship waiver that is found in 46 CFR 15.720 (b) (1), is only applicable to those offshore supply vessels that are operating from a foreign port. The limitations do not apply to any vessel that is operating in the waters above the United States Outer Continental Shelf.

The Coast Guard also reminds vessel owners about the requirements of 46 CFR 15.720 (d), requiring the master to ensure that any non-American who replaces other crew members, has the experience, training, and other qualifications required for the position.

Foreign workers on American-flagged vessels are also eligible for compensation under the Jones Act. There is a myth that the Jones Act only applies to American seamen on an American-flagged vessel. Many U.S.-flagged vessels recruit Indian, Chinese, Filipino, and African crewmembers. These people may also be eligible for protections under the Jones Act in the event of an injury.

These protections include maintenance and cure payments that must begin as soon as they are injured. Foreign seamen may also be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against an employer or vessel owner.

The Jones Act lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers  represent injured maritime workers who qualify as Jones Act seamen, helping them recover compensation for their injuries.

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