Standard control procedures for the crew of a foreign ship when docking at Chicago; whether the Port of Chicago was open to trans-Atlantic traffic in March 1994, and whether a specific ship arrived in Chicago in March 1994 [USA29922.E]

The information that follows was provided by an immigration officer at the O'Hare International Airport/Chicago Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) office during a 31 August 1998 telephone interview.

Immigration control is carried out at the first U.S. port of entry where the ship docks. If a foreign ship or a ship with foreign (non-Canadian or U.S. citizen) crew arrives at the Illinois International Port (at Chicago) directly from a non-U.S. port of entry, the ship's crew must apply for admission to the United States. When the ship docks, an immigration officer inspects the crew, who must be in possession of non-immigrant visas and valid passports or seaman's books. The shipping company can also apply and obtain a visa for the entire crew; in such cases, the visa will be attached to the crew list, and not to the individual travel documents of the crew. The crewmen do not keep their passports or books when in port, as these are kept by the ship's captain; the crewmen are issued and are expected to carry with them while on land an I-95 document, which is a crewman's landing permit valid for a 29-day stay in the United States.

For additional information on procedures and controls for arriving ship crews, please consult the U. S. Code of Federal Regulations, parts No. 251 and 252, available in the Refworld database.

The information that follows was provided by a Customs Inspector at the U. S. Customs Service central office at O'Hare International Airport during a 31 August 1998 telephone interview.

Customs inspections of ships' crews are not carried out with every arriving foreign ship; they may be carried out randomly or when circumstances warrant. Customs searches are not intended to determine the immigration status or identity of crewmen.

The Illinois International Port, also known as the Port of Chicago, is an international port that has handled international traffic for many years. Although confirmation of the arrival of a specific ship in March 1994 to the Research Directorate is not possible for the purposes of this Response, the inspector pointed out that traffic at the Port of Chicago is very sparse in the winter months.

A staff officer of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation office in Ottawa stated during a 1 September 1998 telephone interview that the Saint Lawrence Seaway was closed to all traffic from December 1993 to 5 April 1994; the latter date being the day that the Seaway was re-opened to traffic. The staff officer indicated that the Port of Chicago and some other Great Lakes ports do handle ship traffic between some of the Great Lakes, but no transatlantic route could have passed through the Seaway during the first three months of 1994.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, Ottawa. 1 September 1998. Telephone interview with staff officer.

United States Customs Service, O'Hare International Airport. 31 August 1998. Telephone interview with Customs Inspector.

United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), O'Hare International Airport, Chicago. 31 August 1998. Telephone interview with immigration officer.

Additional Sources Consulted

Illinois International Port District authority, Chicago.